Important figures such as the President always have at least one bodyguard with them. Officially, we know them as the “Secret Service” and protecting the President is just one of their duties, but perhaps it is the one we see the most. The role of the bodyguard is to ensure the safety of the one whom they guard. People need a bodyguard because they may be in danger from fans, foes, and anyone wanting to harm them. Just knowing that the President has constant protection deters countless attacks! Yes, the President has protection even while he sleeps.
How about us? We may not think we have a target on our back (thank goodness!) but in a very real sense, we all do. There are powers of darkness known as demons, out there. What we call “spiritual warfare” is real. But there is good news for us. We have a Guardian!
We may not have the public profile of a President, but Psalm 121 describes the One who watches over us.
Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” paraphrase actually captures this passage commendably:
A Pilgrim Song
121 1-2 I look up to the mountains;
does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.
3-4 He won’t let you stumble,
your Guardian God won’t fall asleep.
Not on your life! Israel’s
Guardian will never doze or sleep.
5-6 God’s your Guardian,
right at your side to protect you—
Shielding you from sunstroke,
sheltering you from moonstroke.
7-8 God guards you from every evil,
he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
he guards you now, he guards you always.
– Psalm 121 (MSG)
Let’s recount some of those facts:
- You aren’t the source of your strength, God is (v. 2).
- You aren’t your own guardian, God is (v. 4).
- As your guardian, He will never cease from His watchful service (v. 4).
- He will stand by you (v. 5).
- Your Guardian wards off evil (v. 7).
- He goes with you wherever you go (v. 8).
- And: “He guards you now, He guards you always” (v. 8).
Let that sink into your soul: “He guards you now, He guards you always.”
We often take truths about God for granted. Perfect example: the fact that God never dozes or sleeps (v. 4). Before you think, “Well, obviously, He is God!” Not so fast. For ancient Israel, this would have been a unique truth distinguishing Yahweh, the God of Israel, from other gods. Within the prayer books from these ancient cults (like the Babylonians) there are incantations (formulaic prayers) of what to do if “god” is sleeping and not able to hear your prayer. Think about that! They had to reconcile that maybe their prayer was falling on deaf ears! But not those who trust in Yahweh, not us!
Our God does not tire or grow weary. And He never grows tired or weary of tending to your cares and concerns.
In this season of life, we invite you to find rest in this Psalm. It is amazing how receiving spiritual rest contributes to our physical rest. We are holistic beings, and so spiritual truths can (and will) help us rest better, physically.
Ancient Jews had their own sets of prayers to guide their evening hours. Before they would fall asleep, they would pray this: “Blessed are you, LORD, our God, King of the Universe, Who makes the bands of sleep fall upon my eyes, and slumber upon my eyelids.”
They noticed something we take for granted, sleep is a gift and a blessing. And even in sleep, our relationship to God is not set aside.
While we fall into a restful state of unconsciousness, He guides us, protects us, and guards us. He is that good. No other “god” was so attentive and caring.
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety. – Psalm 4:8
We invite you to choose a portion of Scripture, starting with Psalm 121, as something to read and reflect on before you lay your head on your pillow. After all, meditating on biblical truth before bed has been proven to reduce stress and improve your quality of sleep. He will guard you even while you sleep. “He guards you now, He guards you always.”