It begins this way, “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come” (Psa. 121:1)? This psalm of ascents, as it was later dubbed, points to Jehovah God as the central agent of help for the believer. It is believed to be called a psalm of ascents because of its use by Jews during their pilgrimage to Jerusalem, much like that we see of Jesus and His family making in His youth (Luke 2:41). If we read this psalm through the context of a traveler with his eyes fixed on Mount Zion and Jerusalem, we will certainly see what it holds for us.
It opens with a question and answer. I seek to reach the mountain, who will help me? The Lord God, Jehovah-Jireh, who made all things. From verse two to three, it transitions from first person to second person. It also serves to transition into talking about the Lord as the “keeper” of the pilgrim. He will not allow the foot to slip is more than a traction issue. If you travel by foot and your foot slips, the resulting injury could keep you from completing your journey. The rest of verses three and four speak to the diligence of our God in His watch over the pilgrim. A sleeping god is what Elijah accused the Baal worshipers of having on Mount Carmel (1 Kgs. 18:27). The same God that protects the individual also protects the nation.
The remainder of the psalm follows a two part or parallel format with “the Lord is” (v. 5) and “the Lord will” (vs. 7-8). There is a reaffirmation of the Lord as the Keeper, and then an unusual likeness of God as shade. As a traveler, one would welcome shade on a journey. God is depicted as protecting from the sun and moon. It is not that the moon causes cancer but that God is always diligent to provide an overwatch both night and day.
In verses seven and eight, we look at the concept of direct defensive protection. As a traveler on the open road, you were subject to attack. Jesus used that in His parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30). An attack was something that could happen especially to those traveling in small groups. Jehovah will protect you to the keeping, or hedging about, of your soul. Material goods are not mentioned as protected. Just that which is most important. Jehovah will also guard “your going out and coming in,” which is to say everything you do. From the time you leave your home/defensive position until the time that you return to your home/defensive position, God has your back.
As you ponder this psalm and its pertinence to you, oh pilgrim (1 Pet. 2:11-12), do you not fix your gaze on Zion? Are you not in pilgrimage to that Holy City. Know this, Jehovah will keep you, will protect you and will guard you. Serve Him.