2016-11-13 God’s Promises: His Full Protection

Cornerstone EPC                                                                              Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                          November 13, 2016

“God’s Promises: His Full Protection”
Text: Psalm 121:1-8

We come once again to this place to hear and to respond to God’s Word, read and proclaimed, and we begin again by noting God’s matchless promises.  They are very great and precious (2 Peter 1:4), fail-proof (2 Corinthians 1:20), and widely granted (Acts 2:39).  Let’s review what we have seen, and have cherished, in this sermon series so far.  We have noted and treasured God’s promise of eternal life to each who, by faith, receives Jesus as Savior and Lord.  We have welcomed the reminder that God will never leave us, nor forsake, to the end of the age.  We also have rested in the promise that God will supply our every need according to His riches in glory through Christ Jesus—and, in place of worry concerning our provision, we are to seek foremost the Kingdom of God and its righteousness.  Today we consider God’s full protection—and we consider this promise from the pen of a Spirit-led, but unnamed, Psalmist.  Let us hear, then, what God says to us through His inspired penman.

(HERE READ THE TEXT)

Recall that the ascriptions at the start of many Psalms are no less God’s Word than the material which follows them.  Hence, we start with this psalm’s ascription: a song of ascents (KJV degrees).  These songs, Psalms 120-134, the Old Covenant pilgrims sang as they ascended Mount Moriah—Mount Zion—to worship the Lord at the three appointed annual feasts (Deuteronomy 16:16): to wit, Unleavened Bread, or Passover (in the early spring); Weeks, or First-fruits (in the late spring); and Booths, or Tabernacles (in the early fall).  These songs cover a number of subjects, but our concern this hour is a single psalm—and what is says.  Upon that psalm’s message we now focus our attention.

The Psalmist, led by the Holy Spirit, asks, “From whence does my help come?”  Though he looks to the mountains—to the high places, and not to the low ones—his helps comes not from the hills, majestic and exalted though they be.  Rather, his help, and ours, comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and earth, Who made the hills—and everything else.  Interestingly, our Lord incarnate, Jesus Christ, promised the Helper, the Holy Spirit, to be with His redeemed after His return to Heaven (John 14:16, et al.).  Our help, then, comes not from creation, but from the Creator—our triune God.

Let’s look more at the nature of this help—and of Him Who helps.  Again and again we see the English word keep in this psalm.  We see clearly that God indeed is the keeper of His covenant people in Christ Jesus.  That is, He keeps them close to Himself, He watches over them, and He preserves them.[1]  More particularly, we see in verses three and four that our God neither slumbers nor sleeps.  The most faithful and ardent shepherd or watchman will from time to time grow weary and inattentive—and he may grow drowsy unto slumber.  Not so our great God.  He is ever-vigilant at all times—especially, it seems to me, on the third shift.

More than this, God protects from sun and moon.  We may take this in a quite literal sense.  God protects us by His shading from the worst of the heat and the damage the direct rays of the sun can do.  Even the brilliance of the moon hurts the eyes occasionally—and may work other difficulties (high tides, e. g.) as well.  We may understand this also (and chiefly, I think) figuratively.  Our God protects us at all times.  He protects in our providential movements—all of them.  He watches, keeps, and preserves in our going out and in our coming in—and at all points in between.  Moreover, He does this for all time: now, forevermore, and every intervening time.

Furthermore, our God protects us from all harm (or evil; the Hebrew word underneath our English word harm will bear both senses).  Let’s understand this matter aright.  Temporal harms do come, but no ultimate harm shall befall us.  Temporal harms, in God’s good providence, work together for our good (Romans 8:28).  We may not understand this at the time; in fact, we may never understand it fully until we are in Heaven in the direct presence of our Savior.  Nevertheless, it remains true.  He is our protector par excellence; we need look nowhere else for a better one.

We do wonder at God’s protection from time to time.  On the one hand, we marvel at His powerful, detailed protection that protected us from great harm.  On the other hand, we wonder at God’s protection when we absorb providential blows.  Then, often, we wonder, “Is He protecting us?”  Let’s reflect briefly on each case.  When God’s protection is obvious, then praise Him and rest in His excellent care.  However, note carefully the following when providentially buffeted.  No matter the pain and anxiety level in our trial, there is no difficulty we face that couldn’t be worse.  The fact that it isn’t worse is itself a reason to praise God and to note His protecting work—even in adversity.  Moreover, note that God is working all things, in view of His redeemed in Christ, for His maximal glory and for our maximal good.  In view of these, therefore—not to mention all the foregoing—rejoice in and rest in our triune God, Who always protects us and is indeed our hiding place (Psalm 32:7)

AMEN.

[1] These are the senses of the Hebrew verb shamar (keep, watch, preserve) given in the Brown-Driver-Briggs lexicon of the Hebrew Old Testament.

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