The psalm closes with a staggering promise that the Lord will preserve the believer from all evil and will sustain the daily goings and comings of their life now and forevermore. Here we return to the apparent incongruity this passage presents. Are we to really believe that no harm will ever befall the believer? If a believer’s life is cut short, does this mean that God has broken His promise? God’s people have endured much physical suffering individually and collectively. They have been enslaved, imprisoned, and wiped out in numbers. Could it be that the Lord was slumbering?
How can the believer reconcile the suffering, trials, and persecution they are guaranteed with the astounding assurance in Psalm 121 that the Lord will keep them from all evil? Some might misinterpret this passage and claim a false gospel of health and wealth. Others may question God’s wisdom when they look at the tragedies befalling Christians throughout the world. Often we simply view this psalm as a platitude. We turn to it when we feel uneasy or anxious, but stop short of the solace it offers once our fears are momentarily assuaged. We are satisfied with momentary relief when we are promised comfort forevermore.
Psalm 121 is described as a “song of ascent,” indicating that it may have been sung by Hebrew pilgrims on their way to worship in Jerusalem. Why does the psalmist lift his eyes to the hills? One explanation is that the traveler is raising his eyes towards the temple in an act of confidence. Another interpretation relies on the understanding of this passage as a literal journey, where the hills might represent danger. With either interpretation, the answer to the pilgrim’s question remains the same: the Lord who made heaven and earth is his help.