A SONG OF DECREE
This bears no other title than “A song of degrees.” It is several steps in advance of its predecessor, for it tells of the peace of God’s house, and the guardian care of the Lord, while Psalm 120:1-7 bemoans the departure of peace from the Goodman’s abode, and his exposure to the venomous assaults of slanderous tongues. In the first instance his eyes looked around with anguish, but here they look up with hope. From the constant recurrence of the word keep, we are led to name this song “a Psalm to the keeper of Israel.” Were it not placed among the Pilgrim Psalms we should regard it is a martial hymn, fitted for the evensong of one who slept upon the tented field. It is a soldier’s song as well as a traveller’s hymn. There is an ascent in the Psalm itself which rises to the greatest elevation of restful confidence.
- I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. The window opened towards Jerusalem. The hills we look to. The help we look for. The eyes we look with. “Whence cometh my help?” A grave question; for, I need it, greatly, in varied forms, constantly, and now. In few directions can I look for it, for men are feeble, changeable, hostile, evil and wicked? I must look above. To Providence, to Grace, to my God.
- My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. The Creator the creature’s helpers. God is his people’s “help.” He helps them in proportion as they feel their need of his help. His help is never in vain. “My help cometh,” not from the earth merely, or the skies, but “from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isa 40:26-31.
- He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. The preservation of saintly character the care of the Creator. Comfort for a pilgrim along the mauvais pas of life. We have a Guide omniscient, omnipotent, unsleeping, unchanging. “He that keepeth thee will not slumber.”
The Lord’s care is personal in its objects. The keeper of Israel is the keeper of the individual. God deals with us individually. This is implied in his care of the church, which is composed of individuals. It is involved in the nature of our religion, which is a personal thing. It is affirmed in Scripture. Examples; promises; experiences. “He loved me,” etc., etc. It is confirmed by experience. The Lord’s care is unwearied in its exercise. He is never unacquainted with our condition. He is never indifferent to it. He is never weary of helping us. We sometimes think he sleeps, but this is our folly. – Frederick J. Benskin, 1882.
- Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The suspicion – that God sleeps. The denial. The implied opposite – he is ever on the watch to bless. He keepeth Israel,
As his chief treasure, most watchfully. As his dearest spouse, most tenderly. As the apple of his eye, most charily and warily. – Daniel Featly, 1582-1645.
- The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. The Lord Keeper. Blessings included in this title. Necessities which demand it. Offices which imply it, – Shepherd, King, Husband, Father, etc. Conduct suggested by it. God as near us, and as indivisible from us as our shadow. “The Lo, to is thy keeper,” not angels.
He is able to keep thee. He has infinite knowledge, power, etc. He has engaged to keep thee. He has kept thee. He will keep thee. In his love; in his covenant, etc., as his sheep, his children, his treasures, as the apple of his eye, etc. – F. J. B.
“The Lord is thy keeper.” Wakeful: “Will not slumber.” Universal: “Thy going out and thy coming in”….”From all evil.” Perpetual: “Day”…”night”….”evermore.” Special: “Thy”….”Israel.” – W. J.
- The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The highest powers, under God, prevented from hurting believers, and even made to serve them. Our Horoscope. Superstitious fears removed. Sacred assurances supplied.
- The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. Personal agency of God in providence. Personal regard of providence to the favoured individual. Special care over the centre of the personality “thy soul.”
- The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. Who? “The Lord.” What? “Shall preserve thee.” When? “Going out and coming in from this time forth.” How long? “For evermore.” What then? “I will lift up mine eyes.” I. Changings going out and coming in. Unchanging – “The Lord shall preserve thee and even for ever more. Amen.