Today I read Psalm 121 and was struck by the prevalence of the word “keep”. It’s in the 8 verse psalm six times. Other translations used “guard” and “watch” and “keep watch” instead of “keep” (which is from the ESV).
I lift my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
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.
Kids know what it means to “play for keeps”. Pokemon cards (which were admittedly after my time, so I never collected them) are pitted against each other and the winner of the “battle” gets to keep both cards. Marbles work that way (before my time…though there were a couple revivals in elementary school). Most memorable in my elementary days were Pogs. The game of pogs is not very complicated…you make a stack of cardboard discs (with hollographic designs, no less, they were COOL!) and slam them with…a slammer?…, getting to keep whichever ones turned over (right?). Some kids had tubes and tubes of those pogs because they played a lot and won a lot. I had a little stack that started from a birthday party favor bag and was supplemented by cereal box prizes and happy meal prizes (or was it Burger King’s kids’ meal?). It was not a collection I was willing to risk, so I didn’t end up winning more or losing more. I valued the stack that I had, studied them, organized them, played against my sister who would only take her own.
It’s not a very good illustration, but when God wins us to himself (er, when we repent and accept the Grace made available through Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection, winning once and for all over Satan and death) we are his for keeps. The study notes I read highlighted the significance of verses 3 and 4. The same God who keeps the entirety of Israel keeps each particular member. He knows us, loves us, hears us, watches over us.
When we go out and come in, He knows. At face value that sounds like a curfew-hounding parent…but today it occurred to me that perhaps that pertains also to when we stray away from Him…in any form (living by the flesh flat out, self-centered boredom, etc.), and when we draw near to him. Perhaps more literally, as a song of ascents (on the way to Jerusalem) it has to do with going to and from Jerusalem, but I don’t have a very good understanding of that pilgrimage.
It’s time for me to head to work for the day, but it is my prayer that God would make his Keeping known to me, that I would cherish it, marvel at it, and live in gratitude for it.