Friday, June 15, 2007

Creator-Provider (Psalm 121)

Psalm 121 is a must read for anyone doubting God’s provisions and faithfulness. I stumbled across this Psalm the other day while searching for a prayer. I was having a bad day and needed encouragement. I’ve found it helpful in times of distress to pray the Psalms. They say what I’m trying but so much more beautifully and poetically. While reading this Psalm I discovered a connection between acknowledging God as maker of heaven and earth and God as provider.

This Psalm (written post-exile) would have been recited/sang by weary travelers making their way to the holy city of Jerusalem to worship. Verse 1 reads,

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;

Common threats to any person traveling through mountainous regions to Jerusalem would be bands of thieves and robbers (along with adverse conditions such as extreme heat, and wild animals). The mountains/hills mentioned in verse 1 would be a cesspool for such trouble. They provided easy cover for thieves wanting to pull a quick ambush. Robbers and thieves could easily hide in the hills and sabotage unsuspecting travelers. Help was needed for anyone traversing through the mountains. Help was sought and asked for,

Where does my help come from?

The Psalmist doesn’t beat around the bush in answering his own question. He boldly declares,

My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

The Psalmist acknowledges God as Creator. Knowing God’s identity as Creator of the universe leads the Psalmist to pronounce trust in God’s character. God’s character is revealed through the use of the Hebrew word samar (keep). Samar (pronounced shaw-mar) in Hebrew means to watch, to guard, to hedge around, to protect, to preserve, used to describe God’s watch and care over Israel. This verb is used six times in reference to God’s actions in this Psalm. Here is how samar is used in Psalm 121:

§ V3 – God keeps us and doesn’t slumber

He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.

§ V4 – God keeps Israel and doesn’t slumber or sleep

Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.

§ V5 – The Lord is our keeper, our shade

The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

§ V7 – The Lord keeps (protects) our soul from evil

The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.

§ V8 – The Lord keeps (guards) us

The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.

This verb, describing God’s actions towards the Psalmist who has just confessed Him as Creator, gives us a taste of God’s character. Our actions reveal our character. God protects because God is a protector. God provides for us because God is a provider. This is more than just a revelation of God’s actions, but a revelation of who God is. The Psalmist points to God’s provisions for Israel (the nation) and individuals. Verse eight’s use of “your” is singular and points to the fact that God cares for individuals. If we believe God to be creator of our universe how can we not trust in His provisions? I challenge you to commit this Psalm to memory. It’s short and easy to memorize.

No comments: