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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Psalms 121



Verse 1

1. I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills—Not to the hills of Palestine in general, but to those of Jerusalem and its environs. See on Psalms 125:2. Mount Zion, in David’s time, and Moriah afterward, were particularly holy mountains, the abode of Jehovah. Psalms 14:7; Psalms 20:2; Psalms 48:2; Psalms 48:11-12. The lifting up of the eyes here implies devotional trust and desire, or the lifting up of the soul, as in Psalms 123:1; Psalms 143:8.

From whence cometh—The compound particle, meayin, is an interrogative, and should read, “From whence shall my help come?” The question is abrupt, but gives a dramatic effect, and prepares for the answer which immediately follows.

Verse 2

2. My help cometh from the Lord—It was not a superstitious reverence for places and sacred mountains, but trust in Jehovah, which sustained the psalmist’s hope. In this confession there is an underlying rebuke of the Gentile idolatry, which sought high places and mountain summits for their altars and worship. See Leviticus 26:30; Psalms 78:58; Jeremiah 3:2.

Heaven and earth—The allusion is made to show the all sufficiency of God his helper, unlike the local tutelary gods of the heathen, to which were assigned limited jurisdictions.

Verse 3

3. Thy foot to be moved—The word “moved” may signify to slip, slide, or to tremble, totter, or even to fall. An insecure foot-hold is a casualty specially incident to the pilgrim on a long journey, and is an emblem of disaster and defeat. Psalms 38:16; Psalms 94:18. The statement is equal to saying, that God would give to the true pilgrim a prosperous journey.

Verse 4

4. He that keepeth Israel—The safety of Israel is due to the vigilant care of God. It is a divine gift.

Neither slumber nor sleep—As the heathen gods were supposed to do. See 1 Kings 18:27. Through all Israel’s meandering paths along the centuries Jehovah’s eye was upon them day and night.

Verse 5

5. Thy shade—Shadow, as a covering, gives the idea, figuratively, of protection, as Psalms 91:1; Isaiah 30:2-3, and is here parallel to keeper in the first member of the verse.

Verse 6

6. Sun shall not smite, etc.It is well known that a sunstroke in the East is a common liability, sometimes producing instant death to man and beast. Probably 2 Kings 4:18-20, was an instance. The moonbeams, also, are known to affect the human system injuriously. Hence the word lunatics, applied to those who are supposed to be injured by the influence of the moon. The dangers common to the travellers are kept before the mind throughout the psalm.

Verse 7

7. He shall preserve thy soul—There is a rising in the sense here from preserve… from all evil, in the first member. That relates to the common casualties of life, this evidently to that higher preservation which belongs to the saints as such, the perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3) of a resting faith. Nephesh, (soul,) therefore, is here to be understood in its higher sense of spirit, the spiritual and immortal part. It is spiritual, or soul, preservation as distinct from mere physical. See the use of “soul,” Psalms 19:7; Psalms 24:4; Psalms 25:1; Psalms 25:13; Psalms 25:20; Psalms 57:1

Verse 8

8. Going out and… coming in—A phrase of beautiful simplicity for daily undertakings. The “going out” to labour, and the returning home to rest, describe the sweep of life’s pendulum. On the going forth of man to labour see on Psalms 104:23. Strong trust in the divine protection and faithfulness, and grateful praise, are the characteristic lessons of the psalm.


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 121:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

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Saturday, January 25th, 2020
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