My husband and I recently helped our adult daughter move into an apartment she shares with another young woman. Although the distance to her workplace and university is less than five miles, the fact that she will travel alone, especially at night, concerns us.
To calm my maternal jitters, I’ve claimed Psalm 121 for her. Many scholars believe Jewish pilgrims sang this hymn as they traveled to Jerusalem for the three annual festivals. The journey was dangerous, filled with rugged terrain and bands of thieves. Safe travel was a legitimate concern.
To allay his fears, the psalmist shifted his gaze from the treacherous roads to the source of safety: “My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” In essence, he is saying, “The Creator of these mountains and valleys is able to protect and guide me as I travel through them.”
To emphasize God’s guardianship, the psalmist used forms of the Hebrew word shamar six times in the psalm. English Bibles translate shamar in several ways: guard, protect, keep, preserve. Jews used shamar to describe the work of shepherds and watchmen. It implied diligence, constancy, and expertise.
Some people misinterpret God’s promise in verse seven: “The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life.” They conclude that God’s children will never encounter suffering or death if they are faithful and obedient. But the Hebrew word translated “life” is nephesh and refers to “the inner being of man.” In other words, no earthly peril can jeopardize our eternal well-being. (See Romans 8:38-39)
I can’t protect my two adult children from dangers—not physical, emotional, or spiritual ones. But “the Maker of heaven and earth” can and does. Psalm 121:5-6 assures me He is their body-and-soul guard both day and night.
Is someone you love traveling perilous roads, literally or figuratively? Are you on a treacherous path? “Lift up [your] eyes to the hills,” to the One who is powerful and loving enough to watch over your life and the lives of your loved ones. Claim Psalm 121:4—God “will neither slumber nor sleep” until all His children have arrived safely home.
Travel confidently and sleep soundly, pilgrim.
(Photo courtesy of microsoft office.)
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