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.

Psalm 121 seems like such a passionate statement of confidence. God will not let your foot slip. God will not let harm come to you. Too bad there’s a cynic inside each of us that immediately points out a laundry list of past harmful foot slippings. And just like that, this beautiful statement of optimistic faith is reduced to naive childishness. Obviously, the divinely inspired inerrant word of God is not naive nor childish, but this chapter doesn’t seem to line up with real life. What gives?

Well, we could get into the definitions of words and massage meanings. We could look at different perspectives and form a fairly comprehensive explanation that no one would remember the next time we read Psalm 121. Instead, I want to go after that inner cynic we all have.

An arrogant person might postulate understanding the Bible like this: “If it doesn’t make sense, it is not true.” When confronted with something tough in the Word, we don’t change the word to fit our understanding of life, rather, we change our understanding to fit the Word of God. We can then seek the nuances of the meanings and the perspectives which amplify the Truth and make it that much more applicable and awesome.

When a father tells his child about the world, the child takes his word for it and though he may have a myriad of questions, still accepts it. At the end of the day, as God’s children, we should probably do likewise. When God tells us about his world through the Bible, I think we should first respond with, “Okay, I accept that,” and then proceed with the questions.

If the Lord will in fact keep you from all harm, then the struggles of life aren’t the harms God protects us from. The Lord is keeping us safe from greater eternal spiritual harm, all the while working all things together for the good of those who love him. The trials and hardships of life are plots for the movie we are in, at the end of which it states, “No souls were harmed in the making of this film. The watchful director guarantees it!”

Jonathan Duncan

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