Psalms 121

PSALM CXXI

The resolution of a godly man, 1, 2.

The safety and prosperity of such, as they and theirs shall

be under the continual protection of God, 3-8.

NOTES ON PSALM CXXI

This appears to be a prayer of the Jews in their captivity, who

are solicitous for their restoration. It is in the form of a

dialogue.

Ver. 1, 2. The person who worships God speaks the two first

verses, "I will lift up mine eyes-my help cometh,"-Ps 121:1, 2.

Ver. 3. The ministering priest answers him, "He will not suffer

thy foot to be moved." "He that keepeth thee will not slumber,"

Ps 121:3.

To which the worshipper answers, that he knows that "he who

keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep," Ps 121:4; but he

seems to express a doubt whether he shall be an object of the

Divine attention.

Ver. 5, &c. The priest resumes; and, to the conclusion of the

Psalm, gives him the most positive assurances of God's favour and

protection.

Verse 1. Unto the hills] Jerusalem was built upon a mountain;

and Judea was a mountainous country; and the Jews, in their

several dispersions, turned towards Jerusalem when they offered up

their prayers to God.

Verse 2. My help cometh from the Lord] There is no help for me

but in my God; and I expect it from no other quarter.

Verse 3. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved] The

foundation, God's infinite power and goodness, on which thou

standest, cannot be moved; and whilst thou standest on this basis,

thy foot cannot be moved.

Verse 4. He that keepeth Israel] The Divine Being represents

himself as a watchman, who takes care of the city and its

inhabitants during the night-watches; and who is never overtaken

with slumbering or sleepiness. There is a thought in the Antigone

of Sophocles, that seems the counterpart of this of the psalmist,

τανσανζευδυναμιντιςανδρων

υπερβασιακατασχοι

τανουθυπνοςαι---

πειποθοπαντογηρως

ακαματοιτεθεων

μηνες

Antig. ver. 613, Edit. Johnson.

Shall men below control great Jove above,

Whose eyes by all-subduing sleep

Are never closed, as feeble mortals' are;

But still their watchful vigil keep

Through the long circle of th' eternal year?

FRANKLIN.

Verse 6. The sun shall not smite thee by day] Thus expressed by

the Chaldee: "The morning spectres shall not smite thee by day,

during the government of the sun; nor the nocturnal spectres by

night, during the government of the moon." I believe the psalmist

simply means, they shall not be injured by heat nor cold; by a

sun-stroke by day, nor a frost-bite by night.

Verse 7. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil] Spiritual

and corporeal, natural and moral.

He shall preserve thy soul.] Take care of thy life, and take

care of thy soul.

Verse 8. Thy going out and thy coming in] Night and day-in all

thy business and undertakings; and this through the whole course

of thy life: for evermore.

ANALYSIS OF THE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FIRST PSALM

The scope of this Psalm is to show that God alone is the refuge

of the distressed.

I. While some are looking for earthly comfort and support, "I

will lift up mine eyes unto the hills," &c.

II. Faith sees God, the only helper; and says, "My help is the

Lord."

And the first reason for this is given: God's omnipotence and

sufficiency. "The Lord that made heaven and earth," and is

consequently the author and dispenser of all spiritual and

temporal blessings.

And the second reason is, his grace and goodness; "he will not

suffer thy foot to be moved."

A third reason is, his watchful care: "He that keepeth thee will

not slumber."

III. The end which God proposes in his watching,-to keep them.

1. He is the "Keeper of Israel." He guards his Church; he is as

a wall of fire about it.

2. He is a shade. This certainly refers to that kind of

umbraculum, or parasol, which was in very ancient use in the

eastern countries. The sense of the passage is, Neither the day of

prosperity nor the night of adversity shall hurt thee; nor the

heat of persecution, nor the coldness of friends or relatives: all

these shall work for thy good.

3. "He shall preserve thee from all evil;"-and,

4. Especially from every thing that might hurt thy soul: "He

shall preserve thy soul."

The psalmist concludes with this encouraging assurance.

1. "The Lord shall preserve thy going out." We are always

beginning or ending some action, going abroad or returning home;

and we need the protecting care of God in all.

2. "From this time forth." Now that thou hast put thy whole

trust and confidence in God, he will be thy continual portion and

defence in all places, in all times, in all actions; in life, in

prosperity, in adversity, in death, in time, and in eternity.

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