The LORD, My Keeper (Psalm 121:5-6)
The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. —Psalm 121:5-6
Psalm 121 helps you to know Yahweh. It takes you to the majestic and humbling heights of adoration of our LORD1 who is creator of heaven and earth, and then expounds the intimacy of his perfect and personal care of each one who belongs to him.
The LORD is your keeper. The LORD created the heavens and the earth. He created the sun and the moon. He is sovereign over the sun and the moon and will guard you, his faithful pilgrim exposed to these created elements, as you make your way to the Celestial City. The LORD will keep you. Don’t be afraid. He will keep you strong in joy, keep your eyes focused on him, will keep you devoted to him, keep you loving him, and keep you persevering in him. He is the keeper and guardian of your soul – and gives his “own dear presence to cheer and to guide.” The promise of being kept by the LORD is echoed in John 17 when Jesus prayed for you in his high priestly prayer to the Father, “All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me.” And in John 10 when Jesus declared, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” The LORD is your keeper. Don’t be afraid.
The LORD is your shade on your right hand. Yahweh, the LORD himself will be your shade upon your right hand. The right hand is frequently used in Scripture as a symbol of strength and honor, but also as a symbol of need. If you are poor and hungry, in need of healing, you will stretch out your hand for help. To reach out in need can make us feel exposed to the world’s judgment of our weakness and cause us shame. Our Keeper knows this and gives himself as our shade, softening the glare, and giving us protection. Does this bring to mind the fortress and refuge of the “shadow of the Almighty” in Psalm 91? Yahweh is intimately looking out for your every need, and he himself is the protective shade from the blistering sun on your outstretched hand. The LORD is keeping you, restoring your strength, and providing for your need.
The sun will not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD is keeping you and protecting you from harm. There are different ways of looking at the protection promised in this verse. You may first think of it in a literal way. Most of us know about the dangers of sunstroke–less common is knowledge of moon-stroke, but for those who live in the Middle East, there is no doubt that to lay unprotected, asleep for eight hours under a full moon can be just as injurious as being without shade under a blazing sun.2 Yet, the psalmist could also be figuratively referring to those things that can draw our hearts away from pure devotion and worship of the LORD. The sunshine of blessings and the nighttime of trials seek to “strike” us and cause us to take our eyes off of the LORD our Creator and Keeper. But we who belong to him will be kept steady by him in the light and the dark–he will cause us to persevere in him every single moment of this life, under every sun and moon, day and night–from this time forth and forevermore.
1. Is the LORD your keeper? If your answer is “no,” today is the day to turn to Jesus and embrace Him as your Lord and Savior. Give yourself to Him to be kept by Him. He will hold you and keep you forever. 2. Using a concordance, look up other references for the words keep, kept, and keeper. Ask questions about the verses such as “What does this verse teach me about God?” and “How can knowing this verse help me fight the fight of faith?”
1. When you see the pronoun “LORD” in all capital letters in your Bible, it signifies that this is God’s name “I AM” translated from the Hebrew “YHWH” or “YAHWEH.” When you see “Lord” capital “L” and lower case in your Bible, most often this signifies it is God’s name “Master” translated from the Hebrew “Adonai.”↩ 2. Treasury of David by C. H. Spurgeon, Psalm 121, pg. 22-23↩