Cooperate With Your Keeper

Psalm 121



1.                  This lovely song is best known for the question raised in verse one: “I lift up my eyes to the hills.  From where does my help come?”


2.                  The theme of the psalm, however, is the assertion made in verse five: “The LORD is your keeper.”

a.                   The word for “keep,” which means to watch or guard, to protect or preserve, occurs six times in the eight verses.

b.                  The singer’s point is that his help comes from his keeper.


3.                  There is a reason why this thought was so meaningful to him.

a.                   This is, like each of the Psalms from 120 to 134, entitled A Song of Ascents–more literally, “A Song of Goings-up.”

i.                    Songs like this one were sung by pilgrims while they were “ascending” toward Jerusalem for one of the three major annual feasts.

ii.                  They are brief, and they express a great love for Zion and the Lord’s house, as well as a deep desire for the peace and prosperity of Jerusalem.

iii.                It is characteristic for these little psalms to breathe a spirit of quiet, undaunted confidence in the help that comes from the God “who made heaven and earth” (121:2; 124:8; 134:3).

b.                  Maybe you can imagine how this song could have expressed the heart of a pilgrim as he approached the hills surrounding Jerusalem.

i.                    He may have lifted up his eyes near the end of his long journey, anticipating worship at the Temple and what it would mean in his life.

ii.                  He could have been fearing the perils of a mountain journey, or dreading the possibility of a sudden attack in one of the lonely ravines or passes.

iii.                It must have been quite an encouragement for him to look up to the hills and think of the keeping power of his God.


4.                  The message of this psalm is that faith in God’s ability to keep is well placed: He is a keeper from whom help can be expected.

a.                   He is the God of faithful power (v1-2).

i.                    As “the LORD,” he is the covenant God of Israel, the one who is faithful to his commitment to his people.

ii.                  As the one “who made heaven and earth,” he is the almighty creator of the world.

b.                  He is the God of ceaseless vigilance (v.3-4).

i.                    Your foot will not be moved because he will not slumber.

ii.                  He is not like Elijah said Baal was while his “prophets” limped around the altar they had made and cried out from morning to noon (1 Kings 18:27).



c.                   He is the God of individual attention (v.5-6).

i.                    The singer says the LORD who is “my help” and who “keeps Israel” is also “your shade.”

ii.                  He is at your right hand, aware of what you night need to be shaded from, prepared to help by day or night.

d.                  He is the God of now and forevermore (v.7-8).

i.                    His keeping is not partial and temporary.

ii.                  It is against all adversaries, from all evil, in all activities of life, and for all time.


5.                  The fact that this was a song to be sung by one on his way up to Zion reminds us of one of the important themes of the Bible: the keeper requires the cooperation of the kept.

a.                   John 17:6, 11, 14-15

b.                  Jude 1, 21, 24

c.                   Revelation 3:10


6.                  Being kept, then, we become keepers.  Here are at least three ways in which that must be true:

a.                   We must keep what belongs to God.

i.                    That we should fear God, love him, and keep his commandments is the teaching of the Bible, Old Testament and New (Eccl. 12:13; Deut. 4:2; Ps. 19:11; John 14:15; 1 Jn. 5:3).

ii.                  We are to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).

iii.                When we come to the end of our days, we will want to know that we have “kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7).

b.                  We must, in some senses, keep ourselves with God.

i.                    The scriptures teach us to keep ourselves “unstained from the world” (James 1:27), “free from the love of money” (Heb. 13:5), and “pure,” apparently from the sins of others (1 Tim. 5:22).

ii.                  Paul said, “Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Gal. 6:1).

iii.                Peter wrote, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable” (1 Pet.2:12).

c.                   Keeping each other is important to us, too.

i.                    We must not be like Cain, who suggested that he was not to be expected to be his brother’s keeper (Gen. 4:9).

ii.                  The same passage that tells us to keep watch on ourselves tells us, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).

iii.                We are to respect the work and appreciate the service of those who are “keeping watch over” our souls (Heb. 13:17).


7.                  From the first of the Bible to the last, the kind of keeping we have been discussing is associated with the concept of being blessed.

a.                   Numbers 6:24-26

b.                  1 Peter 1:3-5