Keeper of My Soul

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A few years ago, I attempted to hike a 13-mile trek across the outer ridge of Glacier National Park. The majority of the trail was uncovered so that you could see where you had been and could also see what was ahead of you on the trail. I remember being on mile 10 and feeling exhaustion begin to creep over my body. The heat started affecting my vision; my feet were blistering, and the end was nowhere in sight. 


I can only imagine that this is a fraction of the exhaustion God's people felt as they journeyed up to Jerusalem for the annual feasts to worship at the temple. We know they sang out loud together as they made the pilgrimage each year, and their songs are now called the Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134). 


Have you ever been on a road trip to somewhere far away with a group of friends? Usually, the first few hours are marked with energy and excitement, filled with lots of karaoke and singing. Everyone joins in the song, and spirits are high. But then comes the fourth hour and the fifth, until slowly, one by one, the singing stops, and the physical conditions of the car begin to take a toll on the body. I believe this is what it looked like for God's people as they ascended to the hills of Jerusalem. The first few hours, the singing was louder, longer, and full of excitement to worship the Lord in His temple. And perhaps as it became more difficult to walk, it became more difficult to praise. Does this sound familiar to any of you?


"I lift up my eyes to the hills.

    From where does my help come?

 My help comes from the Lord,

    who made heaven and earth."


Upon first reading Psalm 121:1, I assumed that because of how this verse was written, the Psalmist was implying that his help comes from the hills, from the place of worship. However, the question mark tells a story. The truth is the Psalms point us to something beautiful. I can imagine the Psalmist, weary and worn. I can see the dust covering his feet, his clothes, fatigue on his face; he lifts his gaze to the hills in a sign of surrender and utter dependene. In his weakness and exhaustion, the Psalmist acknowledged that his strength comes from not the hills themselves but rather the one who created them. How often do you and I worship the created rather than the Creator? 


The God of the mountains is also the God of the path. In times of trouble and need, we are to call upon the name of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 12 says, "His power is made perfect in our weakness." We do not need to wait for an ideal circumstance to worship the Lord. Worship is not reserved for Sunday mornings. It is not something that is only done on the mountaintops. In the same way God sits with us in our despair and desperation, our lives should be a daily offering of adoration in the highs and lows. 


"He will not let your foot slip—

    he who watches over you will not slumber;

 indeed, he who watches over Israel

    will neither slumber nor sleep."


How vast of a declaration this is! The God of the heavens is also a God that cares deeply for His children. The beauty of the story of God is that even in His holiness, he is intricately involved in the details of our lives. God does not miss a thing. He doesn't close his eyes and slumber as we did in Garden of Gethsemane. He is a present God who watches over His people day and night. 


 "The Lord watches over you—

    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

 the sun will not harm you by day,

    nor the moon by night."


You see, the Psalmist knows very well about the protection of God. He repeatedly declares the safety and covering that the Lord provides for His children. The shade that the Lord offers us is the most refreshing. The covering of the Lord is more than just a flighty idea or concept. It's a promise that those who call upon the name of the Lord will not be forsaken or forgotten. They will be protected from the schemes of the evil one. The shade that the Psalmist mentions here is not merely a physical shade but a beautiful spiritual shade from the things of darkness. I don't know about you, but growing up, I differentiated the Old and New Testament by associating The Old Testament with rules and the New Testament with grace. I often thought about how the God of the Old Testament seemed so distant and harsh; honestly, I felt as if I was reading two different stories. How limited was my understanding of the holiness of God! You see, God has always been loving. He has always been good. He has always been holy, yet His plan for the universe has always been perfect. 


I wonder if the Psalmist knew of the most incredible covering to come. I wonder if he knew that the shade at his right hand was a simple mirror compared to the vast blanket of grace that the Son of God was to offer by shedding His blood. It is incredible to think that in the same way that the Psalmist wrote of being covered by the shadow of the Lord, I can now write about being covered by the blood of the Lamb. This brings us to the last verse. 


"The Lord will keep you from all evil;

He will keep your life 

The Lord will keep 

Your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore."


I love how this passage is like a 3-course meal. It just keeps on getting better. Three times, the Lord says He will keep us. First, He will keep us from evil. Second, He will keep us––our souls, desires, and hearts. And third, he will keep us wherever we go and wherever we venture, the Lord is there. He is with us. Through the ages and through the times, He is there. 


That's the beauty of Psalm 121. Our protector, our covering, our help in time of need, and the keeper of our soul is here, and He wants to dine with you and me. We no longer have to scale the mountain to worship him year after year. 


I pray that as you listen to "Keeper of My Soul (Psalm 121)", you will rest in the only one who can truly keep you, Jesus, who invites you to worship at his feet any day and anywhere.