Welcome to Lent meditation and worship with Westside church. During this Lenten season, meet us here each day as we read scripture, worship and rest in the presence of God together. Know that as you listen today, you are doing so with others whether in the same space as you or not, and we pray that the Holy Spirit permeates the places we each find ourselves in right now.
Let us start today by clearing our minds and opening our hearts and minds to what the Lord wants to speak to us through His word today. Take a deep breath in and out. And another in and out.
I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!
3 He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.
5 The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
7 The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.
This Psalm is one that is found in many places. The first verse is written and posted on plaques, throw pillows and posters. It can be seen as a cliché to throw out to someone struggling but it’s so much more than that.
Psalm 121 begins with the Psalmist’s own trust and praise of God and moves into an invitation for others to trust as well. This Psalm was not only meant for those that sang it, but was a reminder to all who heard that it is true for them as well.
It can be a comfort in times of trouble or hardship. Throughout different dark nights in my own life, I held onto this Psalm repeating it over and over as though it were the only lifeline I had. To trust in God who does not sleep and watches over you, who stands as a protective shade can be a sigh of relief and allow us room to breathe in the struggles of not only our own lives, but as we care for those around the world as well.
Growing up as a young Jewish boy, Jesus would have sang this as he traveled with his family to Jerusalem as well. Theologian NT Wright’s observation regarding this Psalm brings some questions to mind as we ponder what it may have been like for Jesus to have repeated these words over and over and what that meant for him as he traveled knowing his death was imminent. He writes, “…we might contemplate the fact that Jesus himself made the Psalms his own prayer book, and doubtless knew most of if not all of them by heart. What did it mean for him to pray these, up in the hills perhaps, as a boy, as a young man, as the 30-year-old coming to terms with the strong and clear vocation that it was time to act? What did it mean for him to realize that an unsleeping God, who had guarded him all his life, was now asking him to go to the unguarded place, the ultimate danger zone, the hill outside Jerusalem where he would go to his final great work but would not return home in the normal way?”
The words of this Psalm rang true for Jesus throughout his life on earth as they ring true still for us today. It is an invitation to trust that God is who he says he is and will do what he says he will do. Jesus made the choice to step outside of the protective shade of God in order to save us. He went willingly and still trusting God, knowing that this was the only way forward to save us.
Hope beyond all human hope, you promised descendants as numerous as the stars to old Abraham and barren Sarah. You promise light and salvation in the midst of darkness and despair, and promise redemption to a world that will not listen. Gather us to yourself in tenderness, open our ears to listen to your word, and teach us to live faithfully as people confident of the fulfillment of your promises. Amen.
WRITE and DISCUSS