Psalm 121

A psalm of degrees or ascents

“ I will raise my eyes towards the hills.

Where does my help come from?

My help comes from Yahweh,

Creator of heaven and earth“

God forbid your foot slips!

God forbid your guardian falls asleep!”

“Indeed, the guardian of Israel

Does not fall asleep or drowse.

Yahweh is a guardian for you;

Yahweh is your shade at your right hand:

The sun shall not strike you by day

Nor the moon in the darkness.

Yahweh will guard you from all evil;

He will stand guard on your soul.“

Indeed Yahweh will guard your comings and goings

From this time now and forevermore.“

This is a famous psalm in English prose and in Scots verse, which makes any new translation difficult.

It’s important to recognise the different voices in the psalm:

Verses 1,2, is voice which asks and answers the question about the origin of help.

Verse 3 is a kind of sympathetic prayer by a second voice.

Verses 4 -7 are by a third voice answering the prayer.

Verse 8 could just be more from the third voice but I’ve chosen assign it to the second.

The voices may give the image of a group of pilgrims making their way to Jerusalem. If so, the hills are doubtless Zion and the Temple. The repetition of the word “guard” is significant:

Yahweh guards Israel his people

Yahweh guards the faithful pilgrim/ worshipper

Yahweh is capable of guarding against all natural and human evils.

The mention of ‘comings and goings’ indicates the intimacy of Yahweh’s guardianship.

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