September 2, 2007 ~ Bay Ridges Long Term Care Centre


Psalm 121:1-8 ESV – I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?  (2)  My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.  (3)  He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.  (4)  Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  (5)  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.  (7)  The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.  (8)  The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. 


We inhabit a world where trouble abounds; a world where as much as we would like them to thing don’t always work out as we would like them to. Whether oppression, poverty, sickness or war we know, each of us knows, that this state of affairs is not how things are supposed to be. Life is supposed to be better, we know that in our hearts, but we are confronted by things that are worse than they are supposed to be and we need help.


Throughout history the thinking mind has struggled to come to grips with the difference between life as it is and as we know it is supposed to be and have come up with various corrupting influences; none of which adequately explains why things are as they are.


The Bible, however, explains that things are worse than they were intended to be because man allowed corruption to enter a perfect creation when we joined Satan in his rebellion against God. Isaiah states it with these words:


Isaiah 24:4-6 ESV – The earth mourns and withers; the world languishes and withers; the highest people of the earth languish.  (5)  The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant.  (6)  Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched, and few men are left.


And Paul says this when comparing the current corruption of creation with its imminent redemption:


Romans 8:19-24 ESV – For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  (20)  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope  (21)  that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  (22)  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  (23)  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  (24)  For in this hope we were saved.


Things are as they are rather than as they should be because creation has been cursed by God in response to man’s rebellion against Him. This is the world we live in. But the problem remains: How do we deal with the trouble that comes to us? Where do we go for help, and when?


In Psalm 121 King David proclaims that he will look to God. In fact, in almost every one of David’s psalms we can read of his utter dependence on God. Now anyone who knows anything of David’s life knows that it wasn’t all “wine and roses.” What follows is but a short list of some of things that we know happened to David:


-          He was the youngest of eight brothers, a lowly shepherd in a lowly town in an un-esteemed nation overrun by many enemies

-          For almost ten years David is forced to flee from King Saul who in jealousy and rage makes several attempts on David’s life

-          While fleeing from King Saul David lives for a time in Gath, a city of the Philistines, Israel’s enemies, and pretends to be insane to save his life

-          After becoming king of a portion of Israel David must wait an additional seven years before all twelve tribes of Israel would regard him as their king

-          Absalom, David’s son, attempting to become king, tries to take David’s life

-          After Absalom’s rebellion has been stopped a second rebellion occurs under the leadership of Sheba

-          Adonijah, an other of David’s sons, attempts to become king in David’s old age, he is joined by Joab, David’s cousin and the general of his armies


This is just a brief listing of the troubles that confronted David, the Psalms indicate that he saw that he had perhaps more than his share of troubles.  Yet he is able to write words like these:


Psalm 121:7 ESV – The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.




Perhaps another of David’s psalms can help us understand David’s frame of mind. In Psalm 34 David praises God for protecting him while he ran from Saul to the city of Gath where he had to pretend to be insane so the king of Gath wouldn’t kill him. Here is the story of his adventure in Gath:


1 Samuel 21:10-15 ESV – And David rose and fled that day from Saul and went to Achish the king of Gath.  (11)  And the servants of Achish said to him, "Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances, 'Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands'?"  (12)  And David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath.  (13)  So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard.  (14)  Then Achish said to his servants, "Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me?  (15)  Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?"


And here is the song of praise that David wrote once Achish had sent him away:


Psalm 34:1-22 ESV Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away. I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.  (2)  My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad.  (3)  Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!  (4)  I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.  (5)  Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.  (6)  This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.  (7)  The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.  (8)  Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!  (9)  Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!  (10)  The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.  (11)  Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.  (12)  What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?  (13)  Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.  (14)  Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.  (15)  The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.  (16)  The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.  (17)  When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.  (18)  The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.  (19)  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.  (20)  He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.  (21)  Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.  (22)  The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.


Notice especially verse 19 where David writes:


Psalm 34:19 ESV Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.


It seems as though David is not saying that God will keep him safe from harm but that God will keep him from being destroyed by harm; the primary idea being that God is a refuge for David in times of trouble.


But God is more than a refuge in times of trouble for those times are temporary and passing, as David well knows. His thoughts are not only that God is his refuge during earthly trouble but that God is also his security for the final trouble of death. In the final verses of Psalm 34 David proclaims his assurance that the wicked will be destroyed but that the righteous will stand firm:


Psalm 34:21-22 ESV Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.  (22)  The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.


The apostle John echoes this assurance with these words of Jesus:


John 3:16-21 ESV – "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  (17)  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  (18)  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  (19)  And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.  (20)  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.  (21)  But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God."


So David, while he is relying on God for help in the troubles of this life is also depending on God for help to take him through death and to establish him securely in eternity. David saw God’s hand in his life as he was protected from King Saul, Acish, Absalom, Sheba and the host of others who sought his life. David saw God’s grace to him through the promise that one of his descendants would rule from his throne forever. David experienced God’s care for his life and his fortune, he knew that this is the same God who would ensure his salvation (in the same sense that we are ensured our salvation: through the atonement of Jesus Christ) and he made the only response that it should be possible to make: He praised God. In almost every psalm where David is asking God for help he is also praising God, making sure that others would know of God’s mercy to him.


This also is what we should be doing. We have no problem asking God to help us in times of trouble but too often we often simply let the matter drop once those times of trouble are past and no one ever hears of what God has done for us. Quite often we don’t even give God a simple “Thank you.” If someone were to give us a gift of tremendous value would we be able to keep quite? Wouldn’t we at least express our gratitude to this person? Why should our relationship to God be any different when He has given us the most valuable gifts we could ever receive? From His hand we have life, the enjoyment of life, forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternity. All of these are gifts, we did nothing to earn them. Shouldn’t we be as outspoken on God’s behalf as we are on the behalf of any other person who has been excessively kind to us?


As a challenge let each of us this week look for opportunities to thank God and tell others of  His help, and let us use these opportunities when we find them. Let each of us be as outspoken about God and His mercy as we are for our favourite food or sport. Let us not be silent for if we are silent who will know that there is a God who cares.