Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.


This short Psalm is one of the most memorized and oft-quoted. It provides words of assurance to those who may be in turmoil or difficulty. In it, we find confirmation that the creator and ruler of the cosmos has personal concern for the lives of all people.


Traditionally, this Psalm has been used as a prayer for those on a journey, travelers on their way to somewhere new. But in it, we find words of assurance for all of us on this journey of life. God will watch over us, and God’s “shade” is always within reach.


For the people of Israel, the desert metaphor was always understandable and relatable. Their people had wandered the desert and even after settling in the Promised Land, they had to travel the desert often. It was always part of their world. So “shade” had a deep and metaphorical meaning. If you have ever been in a desert, you know that shade opportunities are few and far between. The Psalmist tells us God’s “shade” is always within reach, always at our right hand. Though we may feel the brutality of the desert and the torture of the sun, there will be shade within reach. When we feel we cannot go on, we will find shade to rescue us for a bit and give us strength to move forward.


For whatever journey you are on today, I pray these words provide you comfort and assurance. Consider memorizing them, so that next time you find yourself in a desert, you will know shade is just within your reach. 


Dear Lord, teach me to hear, lead me to see and guide me to heed your words. Let these words from the Psalms infuse my soul. I trust you, Oh Holy One. I submit fully to your will for my life. Lead me on the path of righteousness and forgive me for the ways I fail. May your grace be born anew in me each day. And may your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.