Psalm 121:1-2 ESV
“I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.”
Is the Lord the first one we go to when we face temptation, or when we go through a trial, or when we are sick, or when we have a decision to make? Do we seek his counsel and help first? Or is he a last resource when all else fails and we have nowhere else to go?
Many times, I have heard people say, “I have tried everything I know to do, and nothing is working, so all I can do is trust the Lord.” I have probably said something like that at various times in my life, too. But that is backwards, isn’t it?
The Lord should be our first resource, and all else should flow from that. He will lead us in what decisions to make. He is our physician and our healer, too, first and foremost. He will give us guidance and direction. And he will open and close doors for us according to his will.
The Apostle Paul said at one point that he and Timothy were so utterly burdened beyond their strength that they had despaired of life itself. Indeed, he said, they felt that they had received the sentence of death. But, he stated, that was to make them rely not on themselves but on God who raises the dead (2 Co 1:8-10).
And I believe the Lord allows us to go through difficult times for the same reason, to teach us to rely on him and not on our own resources; to teach us to go to him first and to get his counsel, help, and healing, and then to go in the direction he leads us.
Psalm 121:3-6 ESV
“He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
“The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.”
The Lord does not promise us that we will not have to go through difficult times or that everything will be easy for us. He said that if we follow him, in the truest sense of the word “follow,” that we will be hated and persecuted for righteousness’ sake, as he was.
So, that means that we should expect to be hated, persecuted, falsely accused, gossiped about, slandered, hounded at every turn, and that we will have people trying to trick us so that they can trip us up with our words. We should expect to be called “crazy,” “off,” “of Satan,” “hyper-religious,” “legalistic,” and “self-righteous,” too, etc.
And we should anticipate that people will reject us, ignore us, shun us, kick us out of their gatherings, or kindly encourage us to go someplace else where we will be a “better fit.”
But the Lord will be our strength during these times if we will learn to trust him through it all. He will keep us from falling and from giving way to fear, if we will put our hope and confidence in his goodness, and if we will believe in his sovereignty and rely on him and his support.
But, like Paul, we must learn to rely on the Lord and not on ourselves. We must learn to put our complete trust in the Lord at all times, and in all circumstances. And we must keep our eyes and our minds focused on him and not on the “waves” crashing all around us.
Psalm 121:7-8 ESV
“The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.”
When this says that the Lord will keep us from all evil, it does not mean that evil people won’t be allowed to do bad things to us. They will. The Bible says they will. Jesus warned us that evil people would hate and persecute us, falsely accuse and arrest us, and even put us to death.
But the Lord will keep us from all evil in the sense that he will keep us from falling into temptation to do evil and that he will keep us from giving way to fear when evil people come against us. He will spiritually protect us against all of Satan’s evil schemes against us, but we have to trust him, and we have to do what he says to do, and we must not stop up our ears to him.
The Lord will help us only as far as what we will allow him to help us, for the most part. For if we ignore his counsel, and we go our own way, instead, then we step outside of his protective care, and we open ourselves wide to falling into sin and to giving way to fear.
For example, the Scriptures teach us that no temptation has seized (overtaken) us except what is common to man and that God is faithful and he will not let us be tempted beyond what we are able to bear, but he will provide a way out (a way of escape) from underneath the temptation so that we can bear up under it (See 1 Co 10:13).
The thing of it is, though, is that we have to take that way of escape. We have to surrender our lives to him, leave our lifestyles of sin behind us, and follow him in obedience to his commands. We must resist Satan, flee temptation, be putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and be putting on the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s schemes against us.
For example, we can’t feed our sinful natures with the garbage of this world and then be surprised if we fall into temptation to sin. We have to throw off those sins that easily entangle and those weights that serve as obstacles to trip us up. For, we can’t play with fire and not expect to get burned.
Thus, if we want the Lord to help us, we have to obey him and do what he says to do. There is no point in seeking his counsel if we are not willing to obey what he says. We have to be willing to make serious cuts of things out of our lives if those things keep tripping us up and we keep falling.
If we don’t listen and obey, and we go it our own way, then we should not blame God for not protecting or helping us. We must cooperate with his will and purpose for our lives and with his counsel and his commands, which are for our good, if we want to be kept from evil, and if we truly want to walk in purity of devotion to our Lord. So, trust him! Obey him!
Jesus, Be Near to Me
Words and music by Tommy Walker
Jesus, be near to me
Let me know You are here
How I need You, how I need You
To reveal Yourself to me
Through Your unchanging truth
Through the breath of Your Spirit
In my questions and pain
Whisper words of Your love
Always the same…
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