Psalm 121:5
Shall neither slumber nor sleep. The words "slumber" and "sleep" are not climactic. Indeed, the Hebrew word for "slumber" is the stronger term of the two. There is no more in the setting of the two terms than poetical repetition. The one peril of the night-watchman is that he might be overcome with sleep. The one duty of the watchman is to keep ever, through his watching-time, awake and alert. Yet at the best no absolute security can be placed in any human watchman. A man may be overpowered with sleep, and be physically unable to resist its advances. Absolute security of defense lies in God, and we may fully trust in him. It is inconceivable that we can be placed in any circumstances or conditions which are unknown to him. Illustrations may be taken from the wilderness-journey of Israel. The pillar-cloud of the Divine presence was always there, night and day; and never anything could happen to Israel that was not divinely permitted. Or illustrate from the sick-bed of the sufferer. Worn out, the nurse may fall asleep, but the eye of the God of all consolation is never dimmed (see Psalm 139.).

I. THE EVER-WATCHFUL WATCHMAN SEES. This is more necessary in a watchman than keeping awake; he must be quick to observe, attentive, noticing everything. "All things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do." God's seeing includes what is by man seeable and by man unseeable; it includes what is and what is to be. "In every place, beholding the evil and the good."

II. THE EVER-WATCHFUL WATCHMAN UNDERSTANDS. He not only sees things, but sees the significance of things. Estimates the importance of what he sees. Recognizes the relation of what he sees to his people. Makes what he sees the ground of his prompt and gracious action in their behalf.

III. THE EVER-WATCHFUL WATCHMAN HELPS. By his merciful defendings: "No plague shall come nigh thy dwelling." By his wise upholdings: "Will not suffer thy foot to be moved." By his wonderful overrulings, which constantly turn seeming evil into real and permanent good. If our life is thus within the constant Divine inspection, we may put away all fears, and simply "seek the kingdom of God, and his righteousness." - R.T.







The Lord is thy keeper.
A celebrated traveller — after an absence of three years, during which he had walked across the continent of Africa from east to west, through vast regions never before trodden by the foot of the white man — recently received an enthusiastic welcome home. As he approached the quiet Kentish village where he had spent his boyish days, his first act, before entering his much-loved home, was to pass through the portals of the church where his aged father ministered, and, humbly kneeling, offer his devout thanksgiving to that .God who had watched over and preserved him in all his wanderings. Among other appropriate Scriptures this psalm was read. It was a touching scene! Many hearts heaved with emotion, and many tears were shed, as the reader,, in trembling accents, uttered the words, "The Lord is thy keeper," etc. It was a fitting acknowledgment of that Divine goodness which had safely con. ducted the weary, sun-burnt traveller through all the perils of his great and adventurous journey.

I. THE DIVINE PROTECTION IS AMPLE AND EFFICIENT.

1. It is ample. "The Lord is thy shade." He surrounds His people, and guards them at every point of attack. The foe must be able to pierce the invulnerable, and conquer the invincible, before he can touch the feeblest saint who is sheltered by the wings of God.

2. It is efficient. "Upon thy right hand." As the enemies of God's people are ever standing at their right hand to frustrate all their efforts in well-doing, so Jehovah is at their right hand to encourage and sustain those efforts, and restrain their enemies.

II. THE DIVINE PROTECTION SHIELDS FROM THE MOST OPEN ASSAULTS. "The sun shall not smite thee by day." The worker in the dismal mine, the traveller by road, or rail, or sea, the toiler surrounded by the most destructive materials, is alike under the. shadow of the Divine protection.

III. THE DIVINE PROTECTION GUARDS FROM THE EFFECTS OF THE MOST SECRET TREACHERY. "Nor the moon by night." The Divine Sentinel never slumbers. He can never be outwitted by the cunning of the most malicious.

IV. THE DIVINE PROTECTION IS A DEFENCE AGAINST EVERY EVIL. "The Lord shall preserve thee from evil: He shall preserve thy soul." He protects from the evil of sin and of suffering. He turns away the evil that is feared, and alleviates and sanctifies the evil He permit.

V. THE DIVINE PROTECTION IS REALIZED AMID THE ACTIVE DUTIES OF LIFE. "The Lord shall preserve thy going out." The good man is directed in the beginning of his undertakings, and shielded by the Divine presence during their active prosecution (Deuteronomy 28:3-6). He is safe wherever his duties carry him — in the workshop, the street, the busy mart, on the restless sea, or in strange and distant countries.

VI. THE DIVINE PROTECTION OVERSHADOWS THE REST AND QUIETNESS OF HOME. "And thy coming in." Evening brings all home; and the weary one, after the toils and dangers of the day, enjoys the peace and rest of his home all the more because he knows he is encircled by the Divine guardianship. And when the shadows of life's eventide gather round him, he fears not. The Lord will preserve his coming in — his tranquil entrance into the heavenly home!

VII. THE DIVINE PROTECTION IS UNREMITTING. "From this time forth and even for evermore." Lessons —

1. Offer grateful praise for the protection of the past.

2. Fear not the most furious assaults of the enemy.

3. Put all your confidence in the Divine Protector.

(G. Barlow.)

I. THE KEEPER.

1. Those who are redeemed need to be kept (Exodus 23:20).

2. He who is our Redeemer is also our Keeper (Psalm 121:5; 1 Samuel 2:9; Isaiah 42:6; John 17:11).

(1)He keeps us in His power (1 Peter 1:5).

(2)He keeps us by His peace (Philippians 4:7).

II. THE KEEPING.

1. As in a tower (Proverbs 18:20; Psalm 18:2).

2. As in a bank (2 Timothy 1:12).

3. As in a sheepfold (Psalm 23:1; Psalm 80:1).

4. As behind a shield (Psalm 84:11).

(1)Safe (Psalm 31:20; Psalm 121:5-8; Jude 1:24).

(2)Holy (John 17:11, 15; 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24).

(3)Happy (Isaiah 26:3; Psalm 32:7).

(4)Ceaseless (Isaiah 27:3; Psalm 121:3).

III. THE KEPT.

1. They renounce their own keeping (Proverbs 3:26; Psalm 127:1).

2. They commit themselves to be kept (1 Peter 4:19; Psalm 31:5).

3. They trust Him to meet them (2 Timothy 1:12; Psalm 31:28).

(E. H. Hopkins.)

1. The Lord is my Watchman! I remember that in the days of my boy-hood when my father was away from home, it was sometimes my duty to lock up the house. I used to try every door and every window, but never went to bed with a feeling of peace. I never gained an assurance that everything was safe. I feared that some door remained unlocked, or, if I were sure about the doors, some window would haunt me through the night and disturb my rest. But when my father was the "watchman," and had gone round the house and seen to the doors and windows, I "laid me down in peace and slept." I could trust his vigilance and his care, and the trust was the parent of restful contentment. "The Lord is thy Watchman." Our Father does not leave us to our own self-discovery; He tries the doors and windows of my being. He knows the state of the locks. He knows every room in my personality, and just what are the chances of each room being burglariously entered and despoiled. Our Father especially watches over our safety in the seasons of the night. When sorrow is in the home, when death is at the gate, when calamity blackens the sky, the heavenly Watchman is always near. "He keepeth watch over His flock by night."

2. He is not only my Watchman, He is my Defence.(1) Now let us remember that our Father is sometimes compelled to provide defences for us in ways that are not agreeable or welcome. Defences may sometimes seem the agents of cruelty. The cruelty, however, is only apparent. There is no cruelty in the act of a father who places barbed wire fencing round the edge of the precipice. There is no unkindliness when we put the barbed wire round the mouth of a perilous well. The thorny hedge may keep us from the more dangerous ditch. Have we not sometimes heard people speak in this wise: "Ah, well, his present illness is no doubt saving him from a greater one." Only the other day I heard a doctor say, speaking of a certain patient: "His fever was his salvation." In the feverish fire something was consumed that might have been productive of a more perilous disease. And our Father sometimes sends the fire into our life in order that He might keep us from something infinitely worse. The fire in the forest wards off the wild beasts; and in the fire which God sometimes permits to dwell in our life many things are seared away, and many things are destroyed. In the fire of tribulation superciliousness is destroyed, and so is callousness and every form of pride. The Lord is our Keeper, and in apparent cruelty He pours out the treasures of His heart.(2) Now let us mark the thoroughness of our Father's "keeping." "He shall keep thee as the apple of the eye." How wonderful is the figure I The delicate, sensitive organ, the eye, is protected by the bony framework like an encircling cave. The exquisite instrument is enthroned, as it were, in walls of rock. And just as the eye is protected with these strong encircling ramparts, so my Father will protect me. "He is able to keep you from falling." It is an exquisite figure; the mother is training her little one to walk, and while in great timidity and uncertainty it moves from step to step, the mother's arms almost encircle it, and most surely prevent it from falling. And I, too, am learning to walk, am learning to walk as a child of light; and my feet are so uncertain, and my resolution is so Wavering, that I need the encircling care of the everlasting arms. "The Lord is thy keeper," and "He is able to keep you from falling."

(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)

This verse refers to God during the day. For, oh, when we get out during the day, end go down to the town there, and go about our daily business, we are apt to think: Now, we do not need all that our minister has been preaching to us about — God's care, and God's keeping, and God being our nursing Father. During the day we will kind of "forge ahead" without Him. Nay; do not make that mistake, for you will not. Let God be your Keeper down in business there. I speak to you business men. Suffer the word of exhortation. On some grounds I have no right to speak to you. I stand here and speak for God, and say, when you go back to the office, before you take that budget of letters and open them, look up to God, and say, "Now, Thou art to help me here — here among these papers, and manuscripts, and these clerks, and this business of per cents., and I do not know what all." Aye, they are dangerous things — "per cents." Oh, Heaven help you! You need God among the per cents. You will lose your soul among the per cents, and the ledgers. Remember the overshadowing Presence, and, while it keeps you, may it also sanctify you. "The Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night." Travellers in tropical countries know the great danger from a stroke of the sun, or a stroke of the moon, or from lying out at night in the mists and the damps. All the dangers of the way are met and forestalled by this great and mighty Keeper of His people.

(John McNeill.)

The Lord is "thy Keeper," but not thy jailor. His keeping is not confinement, but protection. When you commit your ways to Him, He does not abridge your liberty; He only defends you against evil.

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