Theme: Our Sure Protector
In this week’s lessons, we are reminded in vivid and powerful ways how the Lord watches over his children.
Scripture: Psalm 121:1-8
The last stanza of this psalm abandons imagery and says directly that God is our protector at all times and in all circumstances.
3. Our protector always (vv. 7, 8). The powerful fourth stanza sums up everything that has been said in a series of intensifying statements. We have already seen that God is our guard against all evils both of the day and night, for God does not sleep at night. Now we learn that God will also 1) keep us from all harm; 2) watch over our lives; 3) watch over our comings and goings; and 4) do all of that both now and forever.
This makes a New Testament believer think of that great corresponding passage at the close of Romans 8, or the doxology that ends the book of Jude.
To the Romans Paul wrote,
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:31-39).
Jude wrote: “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen” (Jude 24, 25).
Is this realistic? Is it actually true that we will be protected from all harm if God is with us? Will we never have troubles? Sometimes Christians are accused of being unrealistic, and this is probably accurate in many instances. But the Bible is not unrealistic—neither in Psalm 121, nor in Romans, nor in Jude.
When Psalm 121 says, “My help comes from the LORD,” it is acknowledging that we are going to need help on our journey. When it speaks of the Lord watching over us day and night, it implies that we need watching.
Similarly, when Jude writes that God “is able to keep us from falling,” he is admitting that there is much that would cause us to fall and even that we sometimes do fall, but that God is able and does bring us through to his glorious presence in heaven in spite of it.
As for Paul, when he says that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” he is not closing his eyes or shutting his ears to the hostile and destructive forces that surround the Christian. On the contrary, he actually opens his arms to these forces and invites them to come forward, saying nevertheless and at the same time that they will never succeed in detaching us from Jesus Christ.
Explain what the fourth stanza teaches us.
What themes found in Psalm 121 are also found in Romans 8:31-39? In Jude 24, 25?
Is it realistic to expect God to protect us from all harm? In what sense?
Application: Memorize Romans 8:31-39 and Jude 24, 25.
Prayer: Ask the Lord to increase your faith and trust to keep you and carry you through whatever difficulties you are struggling with now.
For Further Study: The book of Psalms has been a source of encouragement, comfort, and hope for God’s people throughout history, in all the seasons of life and the joys and sorrows that it brings. If you would like to add James Boice’s classic three-volume study to your library, the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is offering it at a special price of 25% off.