Psalms 121:5 MEANING

Psalm 121:5
(5) Thy keeper.--Notice again how the prominent word is caught up from the preceding verse and amplified, and then again repeated, and again amplified in Psalm 121:7-8, where preserve is an unfortunate substitution by the Authorised Version.

Shade.--An image of protection, and one peculiarly attractive to the Oriental. (See Numbers 14:9, margin; Psalm 91:1; Isaiah 25:4; Isaiah 32:2.)

Upon thy right hand.--Some commentators combine this expression with the figure of the shadow, supposing the psalmist, in the phrase "right hand," to allude to the south or sunny side. But this is prosaic. No doubt there is here, as so often, a confused combination of metaphors. We have several times met with the figure of the right-hand comrade in war, a protection to the unshielded side (Psalm 16:8; Psalm 109:31, &c).

Verse 5. - The Lord is thy Keeper; the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. "Thy shade" means "thy protection." "thy defense." Protection was especially needed on the right hand, as the side which no shield guarded. Latin writers call the right side "latus aperture."

121:1-8 The safety of the godly. - We must not rely upon men and means, instruments and second causes. Shall I depend upon the strength of the hills? upon princes and great men? No; my confidence is in God only. Or, we must lift up our eyes above the hills; we must look to God who makes all earthly things to us what they are. We must see all our help in God; from him we must expect it, in his own way and time. This psalm teaches us to comfort ourselves in the Lord, when difficulties and dangers are greatest. It is almighty wisdom that contrives, and almighty power that works the safety of those that put themselves under God's protection. He is a wakeful, watchful Keeper; he is never weary; he not only does not sleep, but he does not so much as slumber. Under this shade they may sit with delight and assurance. He is always near his people for their protection and refreshment. The right hand is the working hand; let them but turn to their duty, and they shall find God ready to give them success. He will take care that his people shall not fall. Thou shalt not be hurt, neither by the open assaults, nor by the secret attempts of thine enemies. The Lord shall prevent the evil thou fearest, and sanctify, remove, or lighten the evil thou feelest. He will preserve the soul, that it be not defiled by sin, and disturbed by affliction; he will preserve it from perishing eternally. He will keep thee in life and death; going out to thy labour in the morning of thy days, and coming home to thy rest when the evening of old age calls thee in. It is a protection for life. The Spirit, who is their Preserver and Comforter, shall abide with them for ever. Let us be found in our work, assured that the blessings promised in this psalm are ours.The Lord is thy keeper,.... This explains more fully who it is that keeps Israel and particular believers, and confirms the same; not a creature, but the Lord; the Word of the Lord, as the Targum, in Psalm 121:7, Christ, the Word and Wisdom of God; who is the keeper of his people by the designation of his Father, who has put them into his hands to be kept by him; and by their full will and consent, who commit the keeping of their souls to him; for which he is abundantly qualified, being able as the mighty God; faithful to him that has appointed him; tender and compassionate to those under his care, whom he keeps as the apple of his eye; and diligent and constant, for he keeps them night and day, lest any hurt them: he keeps them as they are his flock, made his care and charge; as they are the vineyard of the Lord of hosts; as they are a city, which, unless the Lord keeps, the watchmen watch in vain; as they are his body and members of it, and as they are his jewels and peculiar treasure: these he keeps in the love of God; in his own hands; in the covenant of grace; in an estate of grace; and in his own ways, safe to his kingdom and glory;

the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand; he is at the right hand of his people, to hold their right hand; to teach them to go, lead them into communion with himself, and hold them up safe; and to strengthen their right hand, assist them in working, without whom they can do nothing; and to counsel and direct them, and to protect and defend them against all their enemies. So a shadow signifies defence; see Numbers 14:9, Ecclesiastes 7:12; and such great personages are to others; in which sense Virgil (n) uses the word "shadow"; and much more true is this of God himself. And he is like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land; or of a spreading tree, which is a protection from heat, and very reviving and refreshing; see Isaiah 32:2. The allusion may be to the pillar of cloud by day, which guided and guarded the Israelites in the wilderness, and was a shadow from the heat, Isaiah 4:5; as Christ is from the heat of a fiery law, the flaming sword of justice, the wrath of God, and the fiery darts of Satan.

(n) "Et magnum reginae nomen obumbrat", Aeneid. l. xi.

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