Psalm 121: Sun and Moon
When I consider the dangers and threats from which God protects me, I seldom put the moon in the category of threats. Too much sun? Yes, danger in many ways. From skin cancer because of too much sun bathing, to sunstroke from the sun’s radiant heat, the sun can pose significant danger. But I don’t think that’s what these verses speak of:
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The answer lies in the preceding and following verses:
5 The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
7 The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
God promises to protect us from all dangers. Whether they come in the heat of the day or the cool of the night, God stands a ready watch over his people. Such is his promise.
People will point out, however, that bad things happen to God’s people all the time. They are not exempt from trouble, danger, and even calamity. Recent tornadoes in Mississippi took the lives of Christians and atheists alike. Three children in a Nashville Christian school were murdered just this week. Floods, economic upheaval, theft, violence, and troubles of all kinds do not bypass God’s people. Jesus himself said, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) And God, “causes his rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45) Jesus also said in that same verse that God, “makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good.”
I have a favorite flippant answer when someone asks, “Why is this here?” My answer: “Inertia, gravity, and friction.” That’s true, but not the whole truth. The rest of the answer is that neither I nor anyone else took the time and effort to move it. The laws of physics apply, but so do the realities of human interface. If we don’t act the dirty dish, discarded sock, or misplaced chair won’t move itself.
But in the case of the dirty dish or the intrusion of trouble, there is another side to the story. How many times have I put the dirty dish in the dishwasher? How many times have we avoided horrific troubles? How many times have catastrophes bypassed us? How many car accidents, thefts, and illnesses been kept far from us?
This doesn’t negate the pain of worldly troubles. But it might do us good to recognize that God is constantly protecting us – even though sometimes he allows troubles into our lives. We are not called on to understand the reason for this. Sometimes God has a reason he reveals to us. Most often it remains a mystery. In any case, we are to turn to God when these bad things happen.
One possible reason for God’s choice to allow suffering is powerfully displayed in a clip (below) from The Chosen. This powerful video streaming series depicts the interactions of Jesus with his disciples, the crowds, the Jewish leaders, and the Romans. The conversation between Jesus and Little James is imagined, but authentic in nature to what Jesus taught. God sometimes allows his people to suffer so that they may offer an even more powerful witness.
But most often God protects us from the dangers that come by day or at night. We can lament the times trouble intrudes. God receives such prayers. The Psalms are full of them. But we must also thank God daily for his protection, provision, and presence. For that is the far greater and more common experience for most all of God’s people.
Luther’s Morning & Evening Prayers beautifully expresses this:
Luther’s Morning Prayer
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.
Luther’s Evening Prayer
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray that You would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Your hands, I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.