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Sermon Summary | "A Safe Journey"

Introduction

The book of Psalms should be treasured

  • Spurgeon thought the Psalms were undervalued in 1882—how much more today!
  • You will experience no emotion that has not been expressed in the psalms.

This psalm was chosen with Rebecca Stephenson in mind.

  • Rebecca’s husband Wade Stephenson passed away three weeks ago.

It is a Song of Ascents

  • Psalms 120 – 134 are Songs of Ascent.
  • Sung by Jews as they journeyed to various festival in Jerusalem, where they would celebrate together the great acts of God in redemptive history.

A unique Psalm because it does not address God. Rather, it brings good news about God to the human listener. Notice the frequent use of “keep” in the Psalm. Those he calls he keeps.

Vv. 1-2

The voice of a novice pilgrim

The psalmist observes the hills that come into view in his journey to Jerusalem.

  • Could represent the eager anticipation associated with nearing Jerusalem
  • Could represent the anxiety associated with the treacherous rout through them (more likely).

When looking at the hills, the writer feels his need, his vulnerability and reminds himself of where to look for help.

Vv. 3-8

The voice of a more experienced pilgrim begins (and continues to the end of the Psalm). The experienced voice reminds that this God is not simply mighty (v.2), but compassionate and intimately involved with every step. He is not a distant Creator, but the LORD who cares.

Each of us needs the voice of experience in vv. 3-8, for each of us will confront trial, suffering, and circumstances that we have not experienced before. Protection by God is the dominant idea.

V. 3 - “He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.” 

  • Good news for the pilgrim because the roads were treacherous. The potential for falling and injury was constant.
  • Consider each word. HE who keeps you will not slumber. He who KEEPS you will not slumber. He who keeps YOU will not slumber. He who keeps you WILL NOT SLUMBER.
  • Consider a mother and child; both hold one another, but the safety of the child is dependent on the hold of the mother.

V. 4 - “Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” 

  • The consoling truth must be repeated. It is too rich to be dismissed in a single line (Spurgeon).
  • Important because each Christian comes upon times of wondering whether the LORD sees, whether he knows your suffering, whether he cares.
  • “God is at work in the worst of times. He is at work doing a thousand things no one can see but him” (Piper).

V. 5 - “The LORD is your keeper.”

  • How personal! The one who keeps all Israel (v. 4) is YOUR keeper (v. 5).
  • The Psalmist works from the greater to the lesser. He keeps all Israel, so isn’t it reasonable that he can keep you? Feel his care for you!

Vv. 5b-6

  • The circles of care and concern just expand.
  • “The point of Psalm 121 is not that we will not have problems; the point is that we will be kept safe as we go through them” (Montgomery Boice). Consider Romans 8:31-39.

Vv. 7-8

  • The psalm ends with a pledge that could hardly be stronger or more sweeping.
  • There is no moment of exception where God fails to care for his Children—day and night, going out and coming in, this time forth and forevermore. All time, all activities, forevermore, like God himself.
  • We experience the “going out and coming in,” the “day and night,” and the “now” currently, and we will experience the “forevermore” when we pass into his presence.
  • If the psalmist could be assured of his care and keeping in anticipation of the cross, how much more we who can look back on the cross!
  • He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).

Conclusion

  • The journey to the New Jerusalem is a dangerous one, but he watches over every step.
  • The Psalm is not about the pilgrim addressing God but about God addressing his people and assuring them of his care.
  • Based on this and the entirety of scripture, you are going to make it. You will make it to the celestial city. You will make it because He will make sure of it.
  • For the Non-Christian, the promises of protection do not apply. If you stubbornly persist to continue in unrepentance, we can give you no assurance of God’s protection in this life but only assurance of God’s wrath at the end of it. Repent! Non-Christian, abandon your high estimation of yourself. Flee your low estimation of God and his holiness. Flee from your sin and fly to the cross, where he crushed his Son under the weight of our sin.

[by Taylor Mason]