Greeting: I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust.”
Text: 2) My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. 3) He will not let you foot slip – He who watches over you will not slumber; 5) The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; 6) the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7) The Lord will keep you from all harm – He will watch over your life; 8) the Lord will watch over you coming and going both now and forevermore.
Introduction: Adequate protection. It’s subject that is frequently raised in our society. We hear it in advertisements and personal appeals on a regular basis. “Is your identity protected? Are your computer records safe against hackers and crashers? Do you have a good homeowners and auto insurance policy? Do you have enough life and disability insurance? Have you looked into long-term care coverage? Are your investments protected against inflation? Do your children have all their vaccinations? Did you get your flu shot? Are you brushing your teeth and flossing daily? Are you protecting your heart and health by eating right and exercising regularly? Those are just 10 questions we get asked about being protected. We could easily rattle off 110. We can – and we possible do – spend a fair amount of time striving to get protected or to stay protected against threats and dangers to our and to our loved-ones well-being.
Some of us focus on our safety a good deal. Others of us give it only a modest amount of thought. All of us, however, are concerned about it. As we consider the matter of safety and protection in our sermon today, we will find great relief and even outright delight in the fact that God has made us promises of protection. These divine promises offer a coverage that is so profound that it includes every facet of our life. These divine promises also offer an assurance so personal that it instills a deep sense of peace and security in our souls. We turn our attention to God’s promises of protection in Psalm 121. There we note that God promises to protect us by 1) watching over us all the time, 2) shielding us from all kinds of danger, and 3) sparing us from ultimate ruin.
1.By Watching Over Us All The Time
The inspired writer declares: “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. 3) He will not let your foot slip – He who watches over you will not slumber; 5) the Lord watches over you.”
The writer begins by pointing us to the great Source of protection: the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. If we are looking to be kept safe and secure, we have to begin with God. Many people would prefer to look other places. They look to the family or to their employer or to the government as the key provider of their safety. But in doing so, they are relying on someone or something that falls far short of the security they actually need.
Jesus once posed the matter this way: In Luke 12, He says: “I tell you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him.” Jesus warns us against thinking that the only threats we have to worry about are the threats to our earthly life and welfare. If that’s all we need to be concerned about, then a reliable earthly helper is all we need. Jesus reminds us that there are greater concerns and greater threats than mere earthly dangers. He teaches us to understand that there are greater matters and more serious problems to contend with after we die. There is the matter of eternity and the welfare of our body and soul then. For these matters, no earthly helper – no family, no employer, no government can help us. The only one who can help is God.
If we are going to be truly safe in every respect, we have to look to God for help. We also have to look to Him for mercy. He is the One who can and will throw unrepentant, and so unforgiven, sinners into hell, where there is no safety. God is to be approached with an honest fear and humility by sinners who realize the wrong they have done and are sorry for it. God is to be approached with hopeful faith by sinners who know that God is merciful, and that God, for the sake of what Jesus did in living a sinless life and dying to pay for the sins of all, grants them forgiveness. Assured of His pardon and looking to Him as the Source of protection, we confess God as the powerful and capable Helper of His mercy in Christ, will no longer threaten us, but will assist us and use His almighty power to help us.
The first thing a gracious God promises to do for His people is to watch over them. The psalmist says: “The Lord watches over you.” His watch is constant. The writer tells us: “He who watches over you will not slumber.” God never tires and never gets distracted. His watch over our lives is ongoing without interruption. He watches over us all the time. His watch is also a loving watch. The writer tells us: “He will not let your foot slip.” God is lovingly attentive to our every movement. He is not keeping an eye on us so He can catch us off guard and attack us. He watches with care and concern so that He can protect us. He cares about us wherever we are and wherever we go. He is interested in every step we take. He would support us so that we can come to no harm.
The fact that God is keeping a loving watch over all His children who believe in Jesus Christ is a tremendous truth that brings us great comfort and confidence. There is no way that we can always be watching out for ourselves every second of the day. There is no way that we would have the power to ward off all the dangers we face. But what is impossible for us, is so easy for God and so much what He delights to do. A four year old girl had quite suddenly developed a fear of the dark. She didn’t want the bedroom light to be turned off and fought hard against shutting her eyes and going to sleep. Her mother took her to her bedroom window and directed her eyes to the moon. She told her daughter: “I know that you don’t like the dark and that you think that you should stay awake all the time and go without sleep, but that is too much for you to do and it is not good for you. You see the moon and you know that this is God’s light. God is going to stay awake and keep His light on. Since He is going to stay up all night and watch over all of us, there is no reason why you have to stay up also.” Assured that God would keep His loving watch, the little girl realized that she didn’t have to be afraid of turning off her light and that she could enjoy a refreshing sleep. God also keeps His constant loving watch for us. Whatever fears or worries we have, we can set them aside. We can trust the promise: “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. 3) He will not let my foot slip – He who watches over me will not slumber; 5) The Lord watches over me.”
2.By Shielding Us From All Kinds Of Danger
Next, the psalm writer announces: “The Lord is your shade at your right hand; 6) the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7) The Lord will keep you from all harm.” The psalmist tell us that the Lord not only watches us, He also acts to shield us from harm and danger. God promises to protect. He acts as a shade or shelter against the elements that can harm us on our journey through life. He protects against daytime or nighttime dangers.
The Bible describes God’s protection in a variety of images. He is called a shield to ward off the sword that would strike or the arrow that would pierce us through. God is a place of refuge where we find safety. He is a strong fortress where enemies cannot penetrate and we are secure. Listen as the writer of Psalm 91 explains God’s promise to protect us from all dangers. “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust. His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. No harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.’”
God protects His people from harm and danger. We live in a dangerous world. God is active in shielding and protecting us. He guards us against hunger and thirst, sickness and disease, accidents and injuries, assaults and attacks, depression and despair, conquest and slavery, disability and death, and countless other maladies. He uses family and friends, civil authorities and helpful strangers, the efforts of allies and the conflicts of enemies, favorable circumstances and surprising developments, conventional means and emergency measures, even guardian angels to carry out His work of protecting the people He loves so much that He would give His Son to die for them.
These promises of protection give us a calmness and security that gives us contentment and peace, even in the midst of great threats and turmoil. Consider Martin Luther’s confidence. When Luther was summoned to testify for his Biblical beliefs at the city of Worms in 1522, he knew full well that his enemies in the church wanted him captured or killed. His friends feared for his welfare. They advised and even pleaded with Luther not to go to Worms. Luther replied: “I do not care if there are as many devils in Worms as there are tiles on the roofs of every building in the city. I must go and make my confession. Thank you for your offer of protection, but I have a far better protector than you, dear elector. I am under God’s protection. When I go to Worms, I shall be where I always am – in the hands of God.” No matter the dangers and threats we face, we, too, are in the hands of our God. He has promised to shield us from all kinds of danger.
3.By Sparing Us From Ultimate Ruin
When we hear that God promises that “no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near you,” we take great comfort. But we also do some thinking. Does God’s promise mean that I am immune from ever having harm come to me or an evil enter my life? If that is what God is promising, then God is not keeping His Word and then His promise is not good. You and I are touched by illnesses and injuries. We undergo losses and damages. We are treated unjustly and unfairly at times. How can God possibly be keeping this promise of protection in these situations?
This is a good question. How do we reconcile God’s promise to protect us with the reality that our lives are often touched by harmful things and people? We look to verse 7 of Psalm 121: “The Lord will keep you from all harm – He will watch over your life.” Since the Fall into Sin and the curses that God has placed on human life in this world in Genesis 3, all people have had to face painful things. We do get sick, struggle to make a living, face frustrations, have conflicts with people, bear emotional and physical hurts and expect to die physically. How does this fit in with God’s promises to protect His people?
Well, God doesn’t hide the fact that people, even His believing people will have problems and pains in the world. He says: “The way of the sinner is hard.” He tells His believers: “It is through much tribulation that we enter the kingdom of God.” God does not say that we will be immune and untouched by bad or evil things. What He does say is that He will protect us so that we do not lose our spiritual and eternal blessings that He gives us in Jesus Christ. In the book of Lamentations, Jeremiah says: “We have suffered terror and pitfalls, ruin and destruction. Streams of tears flow from my eyes.” Then he also writes: “It is because of the Lord’s great love that we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him. Men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion. He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.”
Jeremiah is explaining that God’s promise to protect His people is good. God allows us to face trouble and hardships so that we might learn important lessons that we could not otherwise learn. God lets us taste some of the evils of life so we can see how serious sin is, what damage it causes, what punishment it deserves and be moved to continue to repent of it. But God also sustains us and works so that we are not overcome by evil. He protects our faith in Christ and will not let anything separate us from our Savior. He limits what harm can be done and works all the while to move us from this world of difficulty and danger to the place of eternal safety and security where we will live with Him forever. God lovingly exposes us to some of the bad things in life, but He keeps His promise to spare us from ultimate, eternal, spiritual ruin and loss.
Are you and I adequately protected? In Jesus Christ, in the hands of God, we are completely protected. We know God’s saving love and no longer have to fear Him. He uses His almighty power in love to protect us so we don’t have to fear anyone or anything. Treasure God’s promise to protect you. He keeps it by watching over you all the time, by shielding you from all kinds of danger and by sparing you from ultimate ruin. Amen.