Psalm 121:5

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 5. The Lord is thy keeper. Here the preserving One, who had been spoken of by pronouns in the two previous verses, is distinctly named -- Jehovah is thy keeper. What a mint of meaning lies here: the sentence is a mass of bullion, and when coined and stamped with the king's name it will bear all our expenses between our birthplace on earth and our rest in heaven. Here is a glorious person -- Jehovah, assuming a gracious office and fulfilling it in person, -- Jehovah is thy keeper, in behalf of a favoured individual -- thy, and a firm assurance of revelation that it is even so at this hour -- Jehovah is thy keeper. Can we appropriate the divine declaration? If so, we may journey onward to Jerusalem and know no fear; yea, we may journey through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil.

The Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. A shade gives protection from burning heat and glaring light. We cannot bear too much blessing; even divine goodness, which is a right hand dispensation, must be toned down and shaded to suit our infirmity, and this the Lord will do for us. He will bear a shield before us, and guard the right arm with which we fight the foe. That member which has the most of labour shall have the most of protection. When a blazing sun pours down its burning beams upon our heads the Lord Jehovah himself will interpose to shade us, and that in the most honourable manner, acting as our right hand attendant, and placing us in comfort and safety. "The Lord at thy right hand shall smite through kings". How different this from the portion of the ungodly ones who have Satan standing at their right hand, and of those of whom Moses said, "their defence has departed from them". God is as near us as our shadow, and we are as safe as angels.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 5. -- The Lord is thy keeper. Two principal points are asserted in these previous words.

  1. Jehovah, and Jehovah alone, the omnipotent and self existent God, is the Keeper and Preserver of his people.
  2. The people of God are kept, at all times and in all circumstances, by his mighty power unto everlasting salvation; they are preserved even "for evermore." In the first particular, the divinity of the great Keeper is declared; and, in the second, the eternal security of his people through his omnipotence and faithfulness. This was the Psalmist's gospel. He preached it to others, and he felt it himself. He did not speculate upon what he did not understand; but he had a clear evidence, and a sweet perception, of these two glorious doctrines, which he delivered to the people... This character, under the name of Jehovah, is the character of Christ. Just such a one is Jesus, the Shepherd of Israel. He says of himself to the Father, "Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the Son of Perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled." ... From what has been premised, it seems evident, that the keeper of the faithful is no other than Jehovah. This the Psalmist has proved. It appears equally evident that Christ is their Keeper and Preserver. This he hath declared himself; and his apostles have repeatedly declared it of him. It follows, therefore, that Christ is truly and essentially Jehovah. All the sophistry in the world cannot elude this conclusion; nor all the heretics in the world destroy the premises. And, if Christ be Jehovah, he is all that supreme, eternal, omnipotent being, which Arians, Socinians, and others deny him to be. -- Ambrose Serle, in "Hora Sotitarice", 1815.

Verse 5. -- Keeper. Shade. The titles of God are virtually promises. When he is called a sun, a shield, a strong tower, a hiding place, a portion. The titles of Christ, light of the world, bread of life, the way, the truth, and life; the titles of the Spirit, the Spirit of truth, of holiness, of glory, of grace, and supplication, the sealing, witnessing Spirit; faith may conclude as much out of these as out of promises. Is the Lord a sun? then he will influence me, etc. Is Christ life? then he will enliven me, etc. --David Clarkeon, 1621-1686.

Verse 5. -- Thy shade upon thy right hand. That is, always present with thee; or, as the Jewish Arab renders it, "Closer than thy shadow at, or from thy right hand." -- Thomas Benton, in "Annotations on the Book of Job and the Psalms", 1732.

Verse 5. -- Thy shade. In eastern countries the sun's burning rays are often arrows by which premature death is inflicted; and when the Psalmist speaks of Jehovah as a shady covert for the righteous that imagery suggests the idea of the "coup de soleil" or sunstroke as the evil avoided. --J.F., in The Baptist Magazine, 1831.

Verse 5. -- Shade. The Hebrew word is tv[l, "a shadow," and hence it has been supposed that the words, "thy shadow at thy right hand," are a figurative expression, referring to the protection afforded by the shade of a tree against the scorching rays of the sun, or to the custom which prevails in tropical climates especially, of keeping off the intense heat of the sun by a portable screen, such as an umbrella or parasol. The word is often put for defence in general. Compare Numbers 14:9 ; Isaiah 30:2 ; Jeremiah 48:45 . --James Anderson.

Verse 5-8. -- How large a writ or patent of protection is granted here! No time shall be hurtful, neither "day nor night," which includes all times. Nothing shall hurt, neither sun nor moon, nor heat nor cold. These should include all annoyances. Nothing shall be hurt. "Thy soul shall be preserved, thy outgoings and thy comings in shall be preserved." These include the whole person of man, and him in all his just affairs and actions. Nothing of man is safe without a guard, and nothing of man can be unsafe which is thus guarded. They should be kept who can say, "The Lord is our keeper"; and they cannot be kept, no, not by legions of angels, who have not the Lord for their keeper. None can keep us but he, and he hath promised to keep us "for evermore". --Joseph Caryl.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 5. -- The Lord Keeper.

  1. Blessings included in this title.
  2. Necessities which demand it.
  3. Offices which imply it, -- Shepherd, King, Husband, Father, etc.
  4. Conduct suggested by it.

Verse 5. (last clause). God as near us, and as indivisible from us as our shadow.

Verse 5. -- The Lord is thy keeper, not angels.

  1. He is able to keep thee. He has infinite knowledge, power, etc.
  2. He has engaged to keep thee.
  3. He has kept thee.
  4. He will keep thee. In his love; in his covenant, etc., as his sheep, his children, his treasures, as the apple of his eye, etc. --F.J.B.

Verse 5. -- The Lord is thy keeper.

  1. Wakeful: "Will not slumber."
  2. Universal: "Thy going out and thy coming in:" "From all evil."
  3. Perpetual: "Day:" "night: ... evermore."
  4. Special: "Thy:" "Israel." --W.J.