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.

Psalm 121: 7, 8

 

Alright, I admit it; these verses are actually taken from a children’s fairy tale. They were written by someone who wanted to provide a rosy-tinted, false sense of security to some young people so that they would go to sleep and stop bothering their adult care givers. Well, no. That simply isn’t true, either. These lines come from one of that wonderful body of writing that is known as the Psalms of Ascents. These are traveler’s tales. The sorts of reminders that whole families would recite and sing together as they took the often dangerous journey from their homes to Jerusalem so that they could worship God together with their entire nation. Although they were intended to ease the journey and to make the miles go by faster, they had a much greater purpose than that.

 

These songs are intended to remind the singers of God. As the travelers recited the lines from them their hearts were being prepared to enter into deep and transformative worship. The author of these lines was not attempting to gloss over the hardships of life. Instead, he deals with them from the perspective of an extreme realist. In these verses we see the great challenge that confronts all of us as we go about our own travels. Evil is out there; it is everywhere. It crouches and lurks among the shadows of the street where we live. It comes at us from far away, and it even attempts to set its traps in our own homes. Evil tries to worm its way into our minds and whisper the lies of Satan to our hearts. Although defeated by Christ, evil just hasn’t gotten that message; so, it is relentless in its desire to disrupt the lives of people who do know God.

 

Since this was the world that these ancient travelers knew, they sang about the truth of God’s protection, preservation, and salvation. As this same reality is ours, we can do the same thing. There is an old popular image of a person who is walking along a dark and frightening lane; so, in order to get his courage up, he starts to whistle. This idea was expressed in The King and I as Anna sings, “Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect and whistle a happy tune, so no one will suspect I’m afraid.” There is one very big difference between the experiences of these fictional characters and those of God’s people. Their courage was a façade; it didn’t penetrate to their hearts. However, we can trust that God is truly protecting us. He will take us along the road that we are traveling, and our souls will be safe. There is danger in the journey, but the outcome of it all is never in question. During every minute of each day, Christ holds us close and keeps us secure.