The book of Psalms is a collection of 150 ancient Hebrew songs and prayers. As the NIV Quest Study Bible says, “psalms give voice to personal feelings; they are poetry, not doctrinal essays”. The psalmists frequently were interested in how something felt more than what it meant. Think of the psalms as entries in a diary; they reflect people’s most intimate encounters with God. Watch for figures of speech, exaggerations, and repetitions. Certainly, poetic language requires that we read with our hearts as well as our minds. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible says “the various psalms help us see that God responds to us in our emotional highs and lows”.
Truly, as Tremper Longman III points out in his book “How To Read The Psalms” “It is simply not true that our emotional life is something over which we have no control. The Psalms can help us to discipline our emotions. This does not mean that we should repress our emotions; far from it, if we follow the example of the psalmist. The Psalms are honest expressions of emotions. We get privileged insight into the negative feelings of the psalmist to which we call all relate” Through the Psalms, our intellect is informed, our emotions are refined, and our wills are directed. What further motivation do we need to spend time reading and meditating on the Psalms?
Psalm 121 is one of 15 psalms categorized as Song of Ascents(Shir Hama’alot), although unlike the others, it begins, Shir LaMa’alot (A song to the ascents).
Fascinating! But after reading this Psalm we have some questions: Where do we run when we are in trouble, and things are not going exactly the way we want? Who do we look for to help us? What or who is the source of the confidence we need to face the headwinds of life?
Well, Psalm 121 encourages us in such times. It reminds us where our help comes from and infuses us with confidence: “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth,” as Tremper Longman states in his book “How To Read the Psalms”: “the lives of obedient Christians are always fulfilling, but never easy” As Christians, we have something which the world lacks: Christ, who brings meaning to our lives. Nonetheless, as long as we are in the world, we will confront hostility, frustration, fear, and danger. But we have someone that is concerned with our safety and well-being, who does not sleep nor slumber.
The Psalter wisely expresses that God does not Sleep nor Slumber; indeed, there is a difference between these two concepts: “booths are the two states of rest, the mind and the body of a human being. Sleep is the primary state of rest, whereas slumber is the supreme state of rest. Both these states are said to be different in character and nature”
However, regardless of the meaning of both words, one thing is clear: God never neglects or simply rests because He feels tired! The LORD never falls into a torpid, slothful, or negligent state; He is always been on point taking care of His children. We can see cases wherein a mother, defeated by exhaustion, may stay asleep while her baby is still in her arms.
Yes, the baby may fall and get hurt; that does not mean that the woman is a bad mother or anything; it means that she is human and she is limited; conversely, we will never fall from God’s arms because the LORD YAHWEH is never fatigue, we are never too much for Him. God will never fall into a state of indolent inactivity. He actively and purposely watches over His beloved flock. He takes care, prevents wounds, and heals the ones that we get.
Finally, one thing that I want to point out is that the LORD YAHWEH provides us through this Psalm, an assurance in His loving care that allows us to rest, to sleep in the midst of the storm regardless how firessly comes over us. In other words: the LORD is saying “rest that I am in control”.
It comes to my mind a very particular scene narrated in Matt 26:36-45 when Jesus asked three trusted disciples to pray with Him in His darkest hour, they all fell asleep, not once, but three times. God will never do that to us. Even when we sleep, He stays wide awake.
Let us keep in mind that the LORD can keep, He is the source of help and the safety of every believer.
Enjoy your journey and trust the process 🙂