|<< Psalm 121 >>|
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
The resolution of a godly man, Psalm 121:1, Psalm 121:2. The safety and prosperity of such, as they and theirs shall be under the continual protection of God, Psalm 121:3-8.
This appears to be a prayer of the Jews in their captivity, who are solicitous for their restoration. It is in the form of a dialogue.
Psalm 121:1, Psalm 121:2. The person who worships God speaks the two first verses, "I will lift up mine eyes-my help cometh," - Psalm 121:1, Psalm 121:2.
Psalm 121:3. The ministering priest answers him, "He will not suffer thy foot to be moved." "He that keepeth thee will not slumber," Psalm 121:3.
To which the worshipper answers, that he knows that "he who keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep," Psalm 121:4; but he seems to express a doubt whether he shall be an object of the Divine attention.
Psalm 121:5 etc. The priest resumes; and, to the conclusion of the Psalm, gives him the most positive assurances of God's favor and protection.
1‹‹A Song of degrees.›› I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
Unto the hills - Jerusalem was built upon a mountain; and Judea was a mountainous country; and the Jews, in their several dispersions, turned towards Jerusalem when they offered up their prayers to God.
2My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
My help cometh from the Lord - There is no help for me but in my God; and I expect it from no other quarter.
3He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved - The foundation, God's infinite power and goodness, on which thou standest, cannot be moved; and whilst thou standest on this basis, thy foot cannot be moved.
4Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
He that keepeth Israel - The Divine Being represents himself as a watchman, who takes care of the city and its inhabitants during the night-watches; and who is never overtaken with slumbering or sleepiness. There is a thought in the Antigone of Sophocles, that seems the counterpart of this of the psalmist,
Ταν σαν, Ζευ, δυναμιν τις ανδρων
Ταν ουθ' ὑπνος αἱ -
ρει ποθ' ὁ παντογηρως,
Ακαματοι τε θεων
Antig. ver. 613, Edit. Johnson.
Shall men below control great Jove above,Whose eyes by all-subduing sleep
Are never closed, as feeble mortals' are;But still their watchful vigil keep
Through the long circle of th' eternal year?
5The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
6The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The sun shall not smite thee by day - Thus expressed by the Chaldee: "The morning spectres shall not smite thee by day, during the government of the sun; nor the nocturnal spectres by night, during the government of the moon." I believe the psalmist simply means, they shall not be injured by heat nor cold; by a sun-stroke by day, nor a frost-bite by night.
7The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil - Spiritual and corporeal, natural and moral.
He shall preserve thy soul - Take care of thy life, and take care of thy soul.
8The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
Thy going out and thy coming in - Night and day - in all thy business and undertakings; and this through the whole course of thy life: for evermore.