People cope with fear in different ways, and it’s particularly visible with the new Covid-19 coronavirus. Insurance policies, safety plans, and precautionary measures are good to have, but they can fail. Rohit Brijnath wrote an article for the Straits Times 17 Feb 2020 issue entitled, ‘Fight Fear with Facts.’ His article is good, but he misses out one fact: the God factor. As such, we look to Psalm 121 for guidance. Often called a psalm of ascent or a traveller’s psalm, ancient Israelites would sing it as they journeyed to Jerusalem.
Where do we turn to for God’s help?
In Psalm 121, the psalmist wants to know where he can get help from. If we know where to look, we would feel less anxious and be reassured. So where is the source of our help? The psalmist lifts his eyes to the mountains. His help comes from above, and so he looks upward. Contrary to anxious people who often look downcast and look to the ground, the psalmist looks to the huge mountains. Their grandeur and majestic proportions would render anyone awestruck. But we are called to look even further–beyond–to the God who created the mountains. God is bigger. As Psalm 90 says, before the mountains were born, God is everlasting (v.2). As Jeremiah 10 says, ‘God made the earth by his power and established the world by His wisdom’ (v.12). Our God has unlimited power and resources to meet our every need. He is our helper.
How does God help us?
The psalmist says that God watches over us. God is our protector (Ps. 121:5). This noun, ‘Protector,’ is from the Hebrew word Shamar, which means ‘to watch, guard, keep, preserve, or protect.’ Shamar appears in Psalm 121 six times. God will not let your foot slip (v.3). Bad things happen in life, but God will not let us go through things beyond our ability to endure. There was a man who suffered from bacterial infection, and he was left with no legs and some missing fingers. This challenged his identity as a father to his children, a husband to his wife, and a PE teacher to his students. However, the Lord upheld him with His right hand. The Lord did not allow his feet to slip.
We see such great assurance in the psalmist’s words: God never slumbers nor sleeps (Ps. 121:4). This means that nothing happens to you without God knowing about it. God is always aware and listening. Further, God is your shade beside you (Ps. 121:5). God is beside you. He is close enough to protect you, and He does so at all times. How do we know this? ‘The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night’ (Ps. 121:6). He is always there to protect you; we can sleep at night because God does not.
What is the extent of God’s help?
In the last two verses of Psalm 121, we see that God will keep us from all harm, and He will shamar our lives (v.7). God guards over our lives, and because of this, evil will not reign. No permanent hard or evil will befall us. Would you choose to have God watch over you now, or forever? The psalmist says we don’t have to choose. God watches over us both now and forevermore (v.8).
When we are confronted with fear, what should we do? Should we look down, or to the mountains? When we are in life-threatening situations, let us trust God to shamar us. God will keep us. God will guard us. God will protect us. Let us look to the mountains, and let all our fears, worries, and anxiety evaporate.