Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Psalms 121

Verses 1-7

Psalms 121:1. I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

It is wise to look to the strong for strength. Dwellers in valleys are subject to many disorders for which there is no cure but a sojourn in the uplands, and it is well when they shake off their lethargy and resolve upon a climb. The holy man who here sings a choice sonnet looked away from the slanderers by whom he was tormented to the Lord who saw all from his high places, and was ready to pour down succor for his injured servant. Help comes to saints only from above, they look elsewhere in vain: let us lift up our eyes with hope, expectancy, desire, and confidence. Satan will endeavor to keep our eyes upon our sorrows that we may be disquieted and discouraged, be it ours firmly to resolve that we will look out and look up, for there is good cheer for the eyes, and they that lift up their eyes to the eternal hills shall soon have their hearts lifted up also. The purposes of God; the divine attributes. Tthe immutable promises, the covenant, ordered in all things and sure. The providence, predestination, and proved faithfulness of the Lord — these are the things to which we must lift up our eyes, for from these our help must come.

Psalms 121:2. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

What we need is help, — help powerful, efficient, constant: we need a very present help in trouble. What a mercy that we have it in our God. Our hope is in Jehovah, for our help comes from him. Help is on the road and will not fail to reach us in due time, for he who sends it to us was never known to be too late. Jehovah who created all things is equal to every emergency; heaven and earth are at the disposal of him who made them, therefore let us be very joyful in our infinite helper. He will sooner destroy heaven and earth than permit his people to be destroyed, and the perpetual hills themselves shall bow rather than he shall fail whose ways are everlasting. We are bound to look beyond heaven and earth to him who made them both: it is vain to trust the creatures: it is wise to trust the Creator.

Psalms 121:3. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Though the paths of life are dangerous and difficult, yet we shall stand fast, for Jehovah will not permit our feet to slide, and if he will not suffer it we shall not suffer it. If our foot will be thus kept we may be sure that our head and heart will be preserved also. In the original the words express a wish or prayer, — “May he not suffer thy foot to be moved.” Promised preservation should be the subject of perpetual prayer; and we may pray believingly; for those who have God for their keeper shall be safe from all the perils of the way. Among the hills and ravines of Palestine the literal keeping of the feet is a great mercy, but in the slippery ways of a tried and afflicted life, the boon of upholding is of priceless value for a single false step might cause us a fall fraught with awful danger. We should not stand a moment if our keeper were to sleep, we need him by day and by night, not a single step can be safely taken except under his guardian eye. God is the convoy and bodyguard of his saints. No fatigue or exhaustion can cast our God into sleep; his watchful eyes are never closed.

Psalms 121:4. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The consoling truth must be repeated: it is too rich to be dismissed in a single line. It were well if we always imitated the sweet singer, and would dwell a little upon a choice doctrine, sucking the honey from it. What a glorious title is in the Hebrew — “The keeper of Israel,” and how delightful to think that no form of unconsciousness ever steals over him, neither the deep slumber nor the lighter sleep. This is a subject of wonder, a theme for attentive consideration, therefore the word “Behold” is set up as a waymark. Israel fell asleep, but his God was awake. Jacob had neither walls, nor curtains, nor bodyguard around him, but the Lord was in that place though Jacob knew it not, and therefore the defenseless man was safe as in a castle. He keeps us as a rich man keeps his treasure, as a captain keeps a city with a garrison, as a royal guard keeps his monarch’s head. If the former verse is in strict accuracy a prayer, this is the answer to it, it affirms the matter thus, “Lo he shall not slumber nor sleep — the Keeper of Israel.” Happy are the pilgrims to whom this psalm is a safe conduct; they may journey all the way to the celestial city without fear.

Psalms 121:5. The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.

Here the preserving One who had been spoken of by pronouns in the two previous verses, is distinctly named — Jehovah is thy keeper. What a mint of meaning lies here: the sentence is a mass of bullion, and when coined and stamped with the king’s name it will bear all our expenses between our birthplace on earth and our rest in heaven. Here is a glorious person — “Jehovah,” assuming a gracious office and fulfilling it in person, — Jehovah is thy “keeper,” in behalf of a favoured individual — my, and a firm assurance of revelation that it is even so at this hour — Jehovah is thy keeper. A shade gives protection from burning heat and glaring light. We cannot bear too much blessing; even divine goodness, which is a right-hand dispensation must be toned down and shaded to suit our infirmity, and this the Lord will do for us. When a blazing sun pours down its burning beams upon our heads the Lord Jehovah himself will interpose to shade us and that in the most honourable manner, acting as our right-hand attendant, and placing us in comfort and safety.

Psalms 121:6. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

None but the Lord could shelter us from these tremendous forces. There are dangers of the light and of the dark, but in both and from both we shall be preserved — literally from excessive heat and from baneful chills; mystically from any injurious effects which might follow from doctrine bright or dim; spiritually from the evils of prosperity and adversity; eternally from the strain of overpowering glory and from the pressure of terrible events, such as judgment and the burning of the world. Day and night make up all time: thus the ever-present protection never ceases.

Psalms 121:7. The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

It is a great pity that our admirable translation did not keep to the word “keep” all through the psalm, for all along it is one. God not only keeps his own in all evil times but from all evil influences and operations, yea, from evils themselves. This is a far-reaching word of covering: it includes everything and excludes nothing: the wings of Jehovah amply guard his own from evils great and small, temporary and eternal. Soul-keeping is the soul of keeping. If the soul be kept all is kept. The preservation of the greater includes that of the less so far as it is essential to the main design: the kernel shall be preserved, and in order thereto the shell shall be preserved also. Our soul is kept from the dominion of sin, the infection of error, the crush of despondency, the puffing up of pride; kept from the world, the flesh, and the devil; kept for holier and greater things; kept in the love of God; kept unto the eternal kingdom and glory. What can harm a soul that is kept of the Lord?

This exposition consisted of readings from Isaiah 5:1-19, and Psalms 121:1-7.

Verses 1-8

Psalms 121:1. I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

No help comes from anywhere else but from the eternal hills. Let us lift up our eyes, therefore, hopefully expecting help from the hills; it is on the road, it “cometh.” The psalmist with the eye of faith could see it coming, so he watched its approach.

Psalms 121:2. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

He would sooner unmake them than desert his people. He that made heaven and earth could certainly find shelter for us either in heaven or in earth. He cannot, he will not leave us, he will make room for us in heaven when there is no room for us here. What a blessed thing it is to look right away from the creature to the Creator! The creature may fail you; but the Creator is an ever-springing well of all-sufficient grace.

Psalms 121:3. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:

He will not endure it, he will not suffer it. Many would like to trip thee up; but he will not allow it, he loves thee too well.

Psalms 121:3. He that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Thou mayest slumber, for thou art frail, but he is a Watchman to whose eyes sleep never comes. You are always safe. Alexander went to sleep, he said, because Parmenio watched; and you may take the sleep of the beloved because Jehovah watches over you.

Psalms 121:4. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

Behold it, that is, mark it; put a nota bene at the side of it, take cognizance of this as a great and sure truth. Jacob went to sleep with a stone for his pillow, but he that kept him did not sleep; he came to him in the night-watches, and revealed to him his covenant.

Psalms 121:5. The Lord is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.

Oh, what a keeper we have! Can you not trust him? Will you not be at peace in your mind if it be indeed true that Jehovah keeps you, and is your guard in the hour of danger?

Psalms 121:6. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

Then, when canst thou get hurt? If thou art protected both day and night, these make up all the time. God does not make a new sun for his people, the sun would smite us as well as others, but he takes the sting out of the sun’s excessive brightness: and we have the same sickly moon as others have, with the same influences over us, but God takes care that the moonbeams do not harm his people. Neither the sun of prosperity nor the night of adversity, neither the light of truth nor even the dimness of mystery, shall injure one of the chosen seed.

Psalms 121:7. The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

That is the soul of our preservation; if the life, the soul, be kept, then are we kept altogether.

Psalms 121:8. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in —

Thine early days of youth, when thou art going out into life; and thy coming in, when the older days creep over thee, and thou art coming in to God and heaven; thy going out into business, and thy coming in to private devotion.

Psalms 121:8. From this time forth, and even for evermore.

Let us, therefore, feel restful at this time, and even for evermore, having the Lord for our Keeper and Preserver.

This exposition consisted of readings from Psalms 121, 122.

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Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Psalms 121". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.