Whatever you are going through in life there is likely a Psalm that will offer encouragement and remind you of God’s love and care. In Psalm 121 we see this imagery of a journey, and I think it’s a great reminder of God’s provision through our journey of life.
I want to dive into the meaning of Psalm 121 because I think there’s some powerful truth in there for us today. This is a passage that each Christian should hang onto and remind themselves of.
We are going to dive into what this Psalm means in just a minute, but first let’s start by looking at what it says.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
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.
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.
The Lord will keep you from all harm, he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
The Content Of Psalm 121
Psalm 121 is part of a group of psalms called the “Songs of Ascents” or “Pilgrim Songs.” These were songs that would have been sung by Jews traveling to Jerusalem for one of the annual festivals. Jerusalem was situated on a high hill, and during their ascent these songs would have been sung.
These songs center around God’s provision, care, and encouragement for his people. And we will see in Psalm 121 there is imagery of God’s provision during these travels.
So, as we dive into the Psalm 121 meaning I would encourage you to place yourself on one of these journeys. Picture yourself walking through life, climbing these hills, and what new meaning the words take on.
The Meaning Of Psalm 121
Psalm 121 is a psalm of confidence that celebrates God’s care for his people. It was used by Israelites to direct their thoughts to God as they traveled to Jerusalem. But really the meaning shows us how God is ALWAYS caring for us, wherever we are.
We are going to go verse by verse through this Psalm to see what it can teach us about God’s provision. Let’s dive into the Psalm 121 meaning and see what it holds for us today.
I Lift Up My Eyes To The Mountains, Where Does My Help Come From? (Psalm 121:1)
Some translations read this verse as, “Shall I lift my eyes to the hills? Does my help come from there.”
Here the Psalmist is asking, “where does my help come from?” It doesn’t come from the earth, from flesh, or from anything I can gaze upon. They will never come through. The things of this world cannot provide the help we need. Our help must come from someone else.
We often search for help in the wrong places. We look to the world around us, to culture, to politicians, and others to provide for us. But they cannot provide for us what we actually need. We must look to something/someone else.
My Help Comes From The Lord, The Maker Of Heaven And Earth. (Psalm 121:2)
Psalm 121:2 quickly answers the question asked in the first verse, my help comes from the Lord. The Psalmist is reminding himself that his help is from the one who made those mountains.
All those other things we place our hope in only let us down, they cannot help us. It is God alone who our help comes from. This is what the Israelites would dwell on as they traversed toward the temple. It’s not the mountains that provide, but God.
This flys in the face of what culture tells us. It tells us our help comes from our government, it comes from within ourselves, it comes from connecting with nature… But it doesn’t, our help comes from the Lord.
He Will Not Let Your Foot Slip, He Who Watches Over You Will Not Slumber. (Psalm 121:3)
This is a picture of a traveler traversing treacherous terrain walking toward the temple to worship. This imagery means that God is providing a firm and stable path; he will not let your foot slip.
Further, God will not take a break from protecting them on this long journey. When it was dark, God was watching. When they slept, God wasn’t. God is watching them each step of the way. The Psalmist is showing God’s provision over his people.
For us today God is watching over us. We are all on a journey through life and sometimes it gets difficult and treacherous, but God is with us and he will not let our foot slip.
Indeed, He Who Watches Over Israel Will Neither Slumber Nor Sleep. (Psalm 121:4)
The Psalmist here expands the scope. God isn’t just watching over him, but the entire nation. And again he reiterates he will not slumber or sleep.
Israel was continually attacked, they were constantly under threat from their enemies who were unrelenting. But God will not sleep; he is on constant watch over his people.
Similar to Israel, we have an enemy that is prowling like a lion waiting to devour us. But we also have a God who’s always watching over us; he’s not sleeping on the job. He will protect us.
The Lord Watches Over You The Lord Is Your Shade At Your Right Hand. (Psalm 121:5)
In Psalm 121:5 the Psalmist is describing God as our protecter. Remember the imagery from this passage, they are ascending toward the temple. It can be treacherous and tiring. But God is watching over his people.
God will protect them as a shepherd watches over their flock; danger will not overcome them day or night.
The Sun Will Not Harm You By Day, Nor The Moon By Night. (Psalm 121:6)
The Psalmist is describing the physical elements they are exposed to on their journey. And this might seem a little repetitive, like we get it already. But that’s the point, sometimes you have to constantly repeat something before you actually believe it.
It’s important in our faith that we continually remind ourselves of what God has done for us and how we should live in light of what he has done. We are prone to forget the most basic of things, that’s why a repetitive Psalm like this is so crucial.
The Lord Will Keep You From All Harm, He Will Watch Over Your Life (Psalm 121:7)
The image here is a God who cares deeply for his people. He doesn’t just want them to worship him, he wants to care and provide for them. He concerns himself with what they are going through and experiencing. He’s not distant, he’s present.
The same is true for us today, God cares about you. He’s with you. He’s watching over you. You need not worry because the creator of the universe cares about you.
The Lord Will Watch Over Your Coming And Going Both Now And Forevermore. (Psalm 121:8)
This Psalm was often recited as Jews traveled to Jerusalem for one of the annual festivals. But the promise of this psalm isn’t just true during their travels. The Psalmist ends by affirming that God is watching over his people all the time. This is a continuing theme found in the meaning of Psalm 121 that we shouldn’t miss.
How To Apply The Psalm 121 Meaning To Your Life
This Psalm was a powerful reminder for Jews as they traveled to Jerusalem. And while today we might not make treks like that, we are all on this journey through life. The promises in this passage are ones that we should still hang onto.
So, what does God promise to do? He promises to protect you, to watch over you, to be with you as you journey through life. Day and night God is watching over you.
Now, this does’t mean that no harm will ever come to those who follow God in this life. Jesus promised his followers they would face trials in this life. The promise of this Psalm is that God will be with us through everything, and that he will deliver us from what we are facing. Maybe in this life and certainly in eternity.
The meaning of Psalm 121 is an incredible blessing and reminder. They are words that followers of Jesus should hang onto, remind ourselves of, and encourage others with.
I would encourage you to take these words and remind yourself of them. Write them on a notecard and place them on your mirror. Set a reminder in your phone. Don’t lose sight that God is with you and he is caring for you.
Remember this promise, “The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in, from this time on and forevermore.”
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Thank you for reading this blog post! I hope that it helped you see the Psalm 121 meaning and how it applies to your life. If it did, would you share it with a friend?