This week, Richard Coekin (CEO of Co-Mission and Senior Pastor of Dundonald Church) encourages us with the words of another psalm.
The Lord Is Watching over You!
(Psalm 121 – A song of ascents)
This profoundly reassuring and beautiful psalm is another in the collection called ‘Songs of ascent’ (Psalms120–134). These were probably sung by pilgrims during their arduous journey along the steep and winding roads to Jerusalem for one of the great Jewish feasts celebrating God’s saving grace. They speak powerfully of simple faith in the goodness of the ‘Lord’. Indeed, this name is a reminder of his ‘covenant’ promise to redeem his people from slavery for freedom to worship him. These psalms point forward to our Saviour Jesus, who perfectly exhibited this faith in his arduous ‘ascent’ – his journey through death for our sins, resurrection and ascension to glory with the Father. His ‘way of the cross’ is also the pilgrim path of all his followers. This is the arduous journey we must all travel through the sufferings of this life – including the anxiety, sickness and economic perils brought by Covid-19 – until we arrive to be with Jesus forever in the happiness of the heavenly Jerusalem.
As before, I have broken up the psalm verse by verse, each with a line of expansion, as a prayer we can pray – whether on our own, with our flatmates, with friends on Zoom, or with family around the kitchen table.
The wonderful assurance of this psalm is supremely in the phrase that appears five times: the Lord ‘watches over you’. This means that the Lord, who created the universe, is the guardian protector of all who follow Jesus, for we are now his beloved children. This doesn’t mean we are immune from all sickness and trouble – a loving Dad will watch his child scratch their knees in the playground, watch them cry as the dentist gives them a tooth filling, and watch from the touchline as they get injured playing football. As children must go through hardships to grow up, so Christians must go through suffering to become like Jesus in our faith. But that happens only and always under the watchful eye of our loving heavenly Father … the Lord who ‘watches over you’!
Almighty God, our loving heavenly Father, our Lord who keeps his promises,
‘1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from?’
In this worrying season of sickness and economic difficulty, we are very aware of our weakness and need.
‘2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.’
We are trusting in you, Lord, for you are the powerful creator and governor of the universe.
‘3 He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber…’
We trust that you will never let go of us because you are watching over us constantly.
‘4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.’
We know that you have always watched carefully over your people, and you never get tired or fall asleep.
‘5 The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand…’
We trust you are watching over us right now, protecting us from anything that isn’t good for us becoming more like Jesus,
‘6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.’
We know your natural world, including coronavirus and economic recession, cannot hurt or frighten us without your loving permission.
‘7 The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life…’
We rejoice in the presence of your Spirit protecting us from all harm, for you are our watchful heavenly Father.
‘8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.’
We rest in your protection throughout the day, watching over us constantly through life and death, today and every day, now and forever,