The moment we say no to the world and yes to God, all our problems are solved, all our questions are answered, all our troubles are over. Nothing can disturb the tranquility of the soul at peace with God. Nothing can interfere with the blessed assurance that all is well between me and my Savior. Nothing and no one can upset the enjoyable relationship that has been established by faith in Jesus Christ. We Christian are among the privileged company of persons who don’t have accidents, who don’t have arguments with our spouses, who aren’t misunderstood by our peers, whose children do not disobey us.
If any of those things should happen – a crushing doubt, a squall of anger, a desperate loneliness, an accident that puts us in the hospital, an argument that puts us in the doghouse, a rebellion that puts us on the defensive, a misunderstanding that puts us in the wrong – it is a sign that something is wrong with our relationship with God. We have, consciously or unconsciously, retracted our yes to God; and God, impatient with our fickle faith, has gone off to take care of someone more deserving of his attention.
If those first two paragraphs shocked and disturbed you, that’s good! They are directly taken from a chapter on this week’s Psalm (Psalm 121) in a book by one of my pastoral heroes in the faith (Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction). When I first read them, my reaction went from confusion, to alarm, to disbelief! Thankfully, Peterson was simply using this as a rhetorical ploy to point out what Christianity does not teach – even if it’s what we secretly or subconsciously might believe.
Psalm 121 is the second Song of Ascent in the Psalter. It’s a song to prepare our hearts for worship together as God’s family. Psalm 121 is predicated or based on the fact that, as Christians, we will face trouble and need help. The world we live in is not safe, predictable, or compassionate. When I say the world is not “compassionate,” what I mean is, the oil on the road doesn’t discriminate who it leads into a skid based on their age, etc. Same with cancer, scams, and the economy.
The Psalms/Songs of Ascent are corporate songs – to be sung together as God’s family in groups of households/churches. The Psalms of Ascent remind us why we need Corporate Worship. With Psalm 121 we, along with God, ask an important question, “Where does your help come from?” That’s an important question. How about you?
Where do you turn when you need help? What is it that you trust in to help you make your way in this world? What do you rely upon to keep you safe? What do you hope will provide comfort and security for you?
As we consider the affirmations and promises in Psalm 121, it’s important to remember that Psalm 121 is not promising that Christians will never need help, face difficulty, experience suffering, or know deep disappointment (remember Psalm 120 from last week!). Remember, things we trust in that are not God cannot fulfill the promises they make to save and protect us from those things!
But what Psalm 121 does promise is that God is our keeper. He is the one who keeps us, watches over us, protects us, sustains us, and looks after us. So, take a few minutes to read Psalm 121 and rest in that today.
I look forward to you reminding me this Sunday that God is my keeper! I look forward to us celebrating together this beautiful truth and reality – the one we sooooo often forget:
7The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
Yours in Christ’s love,