The Keeper of Israel (Psalm 121:3-4)
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. —Psalm 121:3-4
Verse 3. He will not let your foot be moved. Though the paths of life are dangerous and difficult, yet we shall stand secure, 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 let your foot be moved.” Promised preservation should be the subject of perpetual prayer; and we may pray believing; 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 grace of upholding is of priceless value, for a single false step might cause us a fall fraught with awful danger. To stand erect and pursue the even tenor of our way is a blessing which only God can give, which is worthy of the divine hand, and worthy also of perennial gratitude. Our feet shall move in progress, but they shall not be moved to their overthrow.
He that keeps you will not slumber. We would 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. This is a choice stanza in a pilgrim song. God is the convoy and bodyguard of his saints. When dangers are awake around us we are safe, for our Preserver is awake also, and will not permit us to be taken unawares. No fatigue or exhaustion can cast our God into sleep; his watchful eyes are never closed.
Verse 4. Behold, he who keeps Israel will 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 deep slumber nor lighter sleep. He will never suffer the house to be broken into by the silent thief; he is ever on the watch, and speedily perceives every intruder. This is a subject of wonder, a theme for attentive consideration, therefore the word “Behold” is set up as a mark. 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. In the days that followed, he mentioned God under this enchanting name—”The God that led me all my life long”—perhaps David alludes to that passage in this expression.
The word “keeps” is also full of meaning—he keeps us as a rich man keeps his treasures, as a captain keeps a city with a garrison, as a royal guard keeps his monarch’s head. If the former verse is accurately called a prayer, this is the answer to it; it affirms the matter thus, “Lo, he shall not slumber nor sleep—the Keeper of Israel.” It may also be worthy of mention that in verse three the Lord is spoken of as the personal keeper of one individual, and here of all those who are in his chosen nation, described as Israel—mercy to one saint is the pledge of blessing to them all. Happy are the pilgrims to whom this psalm is a safe conduct; they may journey all the way to the celestial city without fear.
Taken from: Spurgeon, Charles H. “Psalm 121.” Treasury of David
Have you been entrusted to be the “keeper” of something of immeasurable value (i.e. pastor your congregation, soldier your platoon, parents your children, young people the children they babysit, children your younger siblings or pets, etc.)? Describe this trust or responsibility.
In what ways is this trust like the description of God in Psalm 121 and in what ways different?
Think of a time of difficulty or trial when the Keeper of Israel guarded you; kept you from falling into the sin of despair or hopelessness. Write out a praise to God, tell of His supremacy and his goodness to you.