Psalm 121:8

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 8. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. When we go out in the morning to labour, and come home at eventide to rest, Jehovah shall keep us. When we go out in youth to begin life, and come in at the end to die, we shall experience the same keeping. Our exits and our entrances are under one protection. Three times have we the phrase, "Jehovah shall keep", as if the sacred Trinity thus sealed the word to make it sure: ought not all our fears to be slain by such a threefold flight of arrows? What anxiety can survive this triple promise? This keeping is eternal; continuing from this time forth, even for evermore. The whole church is thus assured of everlasting security: the final perseverance of the saints is thus ensured, and the glorious immortality of believers is guaranteed. Under the aegis of such a promise we may go on pilgrimage without trembling, and venture into battle without dread. None are so safe as those whom God keeps; none so much in danger as the self secure. To goings out and comings in belong peculiar dangers since every change of position turns a fresh quarter to the foe, and it is for these weak points that an especial security is provided: Jehovah will keep the door when it opens and closes, and this he will perseveringly continue to do so long as there is left a single man that trusteth in him, as long as a danger survives, and, in fact, as long as time endures. Glory be unto the Keeper of Israel, who is endeared to us under that title, since our growing sense of weakness makes us feel more deeply than ever our need of being kept. Over the reader we would breathe a benediction, couched in the verse of Keble.

"God keep thee safe from harm and sin,
Thy Spirit keep; the Lord watch o'er
Thy going out, thy coming in,
From this time, evermore."

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 8. -- The Lord shall preserve. The word "shamar" imports a most tender preservation; from it comes "shemuroth", signifying the eyelids, because they are the keepers of the eye, as the Lord is called in the verse preceding -- shomer Ishrael, "the keeper of Israel". If the lids of the eye open, it is to let the eye see; if they close, it is to let it lest, at least to defend it; all their motion is for the good of the eye. O, what a comfort is here! The Lord calls his Church "the apple of his eye": "he that toucheth you, touches the apple of mine eye". The Church is the apple of God's eye, and the Lord is the covering of it. O, how well are they kept whom "the keeper of Israel" keepeth! The Lord was a buckler to Abraham, none of his enemies could harm him; for his buckler covered him thoroughly. The Lord was a hedge unto Job; Satan himself confessed he could not get through it, howsoever many a time he assayed it, to have done evil unto Job...

But seeing this same promise of preservation was made before (for from the third verse to the end of the Psalm, six sundry times, is the word of keeping or preserving repeated), why is it now made over again? Not without cause; for this doubling and redoubling serves, first, for a remedy of our ignorance. Men, if they be in any good estate, are ready to "sacrifice to their own net," or "to cause their mouth to kiss their own hand," as if their own hand had helped them: thus to impute their "deliverance" to their "calf," and therefore often is this resounded, "The Lord," "The Lord." Is thy estate advanced? The Lord hath done it. Hast thou been preserved from desperate dangers? Look up to the Lord, thy help is from on high, and to him let the praise be returned. Secondly, it is for a remedy of our natural diffidence: the word of the Lord in itself is as sure when it is spoken, as when it is sworn; as sure spoken once, as when it is oftener repeated; yet is not the Lord content to speak only, but to swear also; nor to speak once, but often, one and the selfsame thing. The reason is showed us by the apostle, that hereby he may "declare to the heirs of promise the stability of his counsel." Hebrews 6:1 Genesis 21:32 . As Joseph spake of Pharaoh his vision, "It was doubled, because the thing is established by God, and God hasteth to perform it"; so is it with every word of the Lord, when it is repeated; it is because it is established, and God hastens to perform it. --From a Sermon by Bishop Couper, entitled "His Majesties Coming in", 1623.

Verse 8. -- The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in. All actions being comprehended under one of these two sorts, "going out" to more public, and "coming in" to more private affairs; or again, "going out" to begin, and "coming in" at the end of the work. But by this expression may here perhaps be more particularly signified that God would protect David, even to the end of his days, whenever he marched out with his armies, or brought them home. --Thomas Fenton.

Verse 8. -- From this time forth, and even for evermore. He has not led me so tenderly thus far to forsake me at the very gate of heaven. --Adoniram Judson.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 8. -- Who? "The Lord." What? "Shall preserve thee." When? "Going out and coming in from this time forth." How long? "For evermore." What then? "I will lift up mine eyes."

Verse 8. --

  1. Changing -- going out and coming in.
  2. Unchanging -- "The Lord shall preserve," etc.

WORKS ON THE 121 PSALM.

In "Letters on Spiritual Subjects...by SAMUEL EYLES PIERCE... London: 1862," Vol. I., pp. 359-370, there are "Some Observations on the Hundred and Twenty first Psalm."

In "Meditations on Twenty select Psalms, by Sir ANTHONY COPE, Chamberlain to Queen Katherine Parr. Reprinted from the edition of 1547;...By WILLIAM H. COPE, M.A. 1848," there is a Meditation on this psalm.

See also List of Works upon the Gradual Psalms, in notes on Psalm 120.