The one who guards – that’s the way God is described eight times in Psalm 121. I’m only two songs into rereading Eugene Peterson’s classic “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction” about the Songs of Ascents, but I’m all ready to place money on this being one of my top two favorites.
The songwriter here is concerned that when adversities come, we might make a serious mistake in our thinking. As Peterson writes, we might “conclude that God has gotten bored looking after us and has shifted his attention to a more exciting Christian, or that God has become disgusted with our meandering obedience and decided to let us fend for ourselves for a while, or that God has gotten too busy fulfilling prophecy in the Middle East to take time to sort out the complicated mess we have gotten ourselves into.“
To ward off such foolish and get our eyes pointed in the right direction, this song – only 8 verses and less than 100 words – is a “good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over” with God’s activities. He guards, watches, shields, shelters, preserves, keeps, accompanies.
“Build your faith on this God,” the author seems to say. Yahweh is a not a guardian from a far; He is the solid, active, secure Guardian who keeps all evil from getting inside you.
I look up to the mountains;
does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.
He won’t let you stumble,
your Guardian God won’t fall asleep.
Not on your life! Israel’s
Guardian will never doze or sleep.
God’s your Guardian,
right at your side to protect you—
Shielding you from sunstroke,
sheltering you from moonstroke.
God guards you from every evil,
he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
he guards you now, he guards you always.
Here’s my latest cheatsheet: