Read Psalm 121 together as a family.
121 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
Psalm 121 is full of promises of God’s protection. God is our helper. God never sleeps. Nothing ever catches Him by surprise. He will not neglect us nor forsake us. He is our shade to protect us by day or by night.
God is our keeper. This word also describes Adam’s duty over the garden of Eden; he was to guard or keep it against threats (like, say, a serpent). God is our guard. In English, the word keep is also a noun that refers to the strongest part of a fortress or castle. So, we may also think of God as our secure fortress (See Ps. 18).
Discuss: How have you experienced God as your keeper?
Does this psalm mean that a believer will never experience suffering? That a Christian will never get sick or experience harm? No. The book of Psalms is full of anguish and suffering (see, for example, Psalm 6 and Psalm 38). King David, who wrote many of the Psalms, was deeply familiar with both personal and political disaster. Near the end of his reign, a plague killed thousands of people in Israel (1 Chr. 21:1-17). So, the Bible is not promising that believers will have an easy, painless life.
Rather, the promise of Psalm 121 is that God is our keeper, no matter what evil, suffering, disease, or enemies we may face. None of these can thwart God’s plan for His people. Psalm 139:16 says that, “in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” God knows the exact number of our days. He is the one who gave us life, and he is the one who will call us home one day. He is the keeper of your life.
Without a doubt, some Christians have already suffered and even died as a result of the coronavirus. Does this mean that God’s Word has failed them? Again, the answer is “No.” All of us will face death one day, and when that time comes, we have a savior who has conquered death. 1 Thessalonians 4:14 says, “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” Because of this hope – Jesus who died and rose again – we can face danger, sickness, and even death with courage.
For many people, the present crisis has cast an overwhelming shadow over all of life. While Christians are not exempt from the effects of this pandemic, we must not let it dominate us. Christ is still the King. God is still the shade at our right hand (v.5). We can remind ourselves of this by keeping to the rhythms of the Christian life. So, while we can’t meet for Sunday worship, we can still do the following:
Pray: When we pray, we are recognizing that our help comes from the LORD. Looking to God as our help is not to deny the importance of things like medicine, doctors, and good hygiene. Rather, we are recognizing that God is the giver of these gifts and that, apart from Him, our efforts would be in vain. Therefore, let us pray for doctors, nurses, and other health workers, that God would supply them with strength and endurance. Let us pray for local authorities and government leaders, that God would give them humility, wisdom, and discernment. Let us pray for those who are particularly suffering – the sick, the poor and needy, those whose livelihoods are threatened – that God would protect and provide for them. And let us pray for ourselves, that we would not be overcome by fear, but that we would trust in God.
Practice family discipleship/worship: If you haven’t been practicing family discipleship, this is a good time to start. Family discipleship doesn’t replace corporate worship on Sundays, and neither does corporate worship replace family discipleship. Both are necessary and commanded by God (see Eph. 6:4 and Heb. 10:24-25).
Think about the cultivation of a plant. A plant needs soil, water, and sunlight. What is the “soil” of your family? What “water” do you give to your family? What is the “light” of your family? Is it Christ, or something else? Practicing family discipleship is one way that we can plant our families firmly in Jesus.
What does family worship look like? It doesn’t need to be complicated. Each week, set aside some time to gather as a family (start with 15-30 minutes). Read and discuss God’s Word together. Sing a hymn together. And, at the end, pray for one another.
Parents discuss: How are you actively discipling your children? Children discuss: How are you following the spiritual leadership of your parents?
Read God’s Word: Hopefully, you’ve been spiritually prepared for this crisis because you’ve already been spending in God’s Word. If not, there is no better time to get back into reading the Bible. A Christian who doesn’t read God’s Word is like a soldier who goes into battle without a sword (Eph. 6:17). As important as it is for us to be careful about our physical health, it is even more important that we remain vigilant about our spiritual health. Let God’s Word be a lamp for your feet and a light for your path (Ps. 119:105).