Working from Psalm 121:2, this article shows what it means that God preserves our lives. Not only does God preserve and protect us here on earth, but He also preserves our life by bringing us into eternity.

Source: Clarion, 2011. 2 pages.

Psalm 121:2 - The Lord My Helper

My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:2

Psalm 121 is probably a well-known psalm and a much-loved psalm. Its frequent statement that the LORD watches over us is very comforting. But the very fact which makes this Psalm much-loved also leads to questions. Sometimes terrible things happen, and we ask: "Was the LORD not watching over me?"

This psalm is a song of ascents. It was sung as the Israelites travelled up to Jerusalem on special occasions. That trip was fraught with danger – wild animals, bandits, rough terrain, and intense heat. The travellers must have wondered whether they would make it to Jerusalem.

As the psalmist approached Jerusalem, he saw the hills surrounding Jerusalem rise up before him in the distance. Those hills signified the dwelling-place of the LORD and reminded the psalmist of covenant fellowship with the LORD. There the blood of the sacrifices flowed, pointing to the blood of Christ. Then the psalmist asked himself, "Where does my help come from?" (v. 1). And he told himself as a statement of faith, "My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth" (v. 2).

The use of the covenant Name of God – LORD (Yahweh) – indicates that the LORD is a present help because his Name means "I am who I am." The LORD'S Name points to his faithfulness toward his people and that they can count on him. As such, he who watches over us neither slumbers nor sleeps (vv. 3, 4) and he watches over our coming and going both now and forevermore (v. 8).

God is with us. We know that this is possible only because God sent his Son into the world to reconcile us to himself. Christ is the Immanuel – God with us! Shortly before his ascension, our Saviour said, "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matt 28:20).

Therefore, the LORD preserves us. No less than six times the psalmist uses a word which means "watch over," "keep," or "preserve" (vv. 3, 4, 5, 7, 8). To drive the point home the psalmist uses the common biblical imagery of shade, which points to protection and safety:

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.Psalm 121:5, 6

But does this mean that we are guaranteed no harm? We should not read this psalm in isolation from other parts of Scripture. The Bible tells us that God has his purpose for trials and difficulties in the lives of believers (e.g., Job). Psalm 121 teaches us that nothing happens to us by chance or accident. Our foot does not slip by accident because the LORD is inattentive; the LORD watches over us (v. 3). No one and nothing can take our lives without the LORD'S will (v. 7).

As we confess in the Heidelberg Catechism, "...leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed, all things, come to us not by chance but by (God's) fatherly hand" (Lord's Day 10, Q&A 27). Nothing just "happens" to us!

Let's also remember that the preservation of our lives is more than that we are still alive and well. Our lives have a direction and goal: this life is the beginning of eternal life. We are pilgrims on the way to the new earth! God preserves his children for arrival at that destination. We confess this in the fifth chapter of the Canons of Dort, which deals with the preservation of the saints. A believer need never doubt whether he or she will survive the spiritual journey of life. The LORD will keep you from all harm that would prevent you from reaching the destination. That destination is the New Jerusalem, the place where "the sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat" (Rev 7:16).

To underline the confidence which we may have, the psalmist points to the fact that the LORD is powerful: he is "the Maker of heaven and earth" (v. 2). Whenever God wants to remind us of his power, he points to his work of creation. Is anything beyond the ability and control of him who made all things? We are safe with the LORD. So each believer may confess:

My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Add new comment

(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.