James Smith, 1865
"The Lord is your keeper" Psalm 121:5
Our safety and happiness lie in what the Lord is to us.
In darkness he is our light;
in weakness he is our strength;
in danger he is our refuge;
at all times he is our keeper.
He never trusts his people in any hands but his own. "Indeed, he loves his people; all his holy ones are in his hands!" (Deuteronomy 33:3). The Great Shepherd has said, "No one shall pluck them out of my hand." Let us notice
1. The OBJECTS of the divine care.His people his children his sheep the whole of them. To each it may be said, "The Lord is your keeper." But how are they known? How shall we know that the Lord is our keeper? He keeps all those who feel that they cannot keep themselves. And the Holy Spirit teaches every believer that he needs a keeper that he has neither wisdom nor power to keep himself that he must be kept by one greater and wiser than himself or he is undone.
Those whom the Lord keeps . . .
perceive that they are exposed to innumerable foes and dangers;
that they are never safe for one moment if left to themselves;
that they must fall except an omnipotent hand upholds them;
that their enemies will triumph over them except the Lord is a wall of fire round about them. Therefore, they put themselves into the Lord's hands for protection. They commit themselves unto him, as unto a refuge of defense, to save them. They daily cry unto him to keep them. Their prayer is, "Keep me as the apple of the eye: hide me under the shadow of your wings." "O keep my soul and deliver me, for I trust in you."
To them, the name of the Lord is a strong tower, and they run into it and are safe. The Lord always keeps those who are busily employed in his work. The diligent servant is safe. The obedient child is sure of protection.
If we feel that we cannot keep ourselves;
if we perceive that we are surrounded by dangers and foes;
if we put ourselves into the hands of God for protection;
if we daily call upon him to keep us;
if we exercise faith in his word of promise; and
if we are actively engaged in his service
no doubt but the Lord will keep us!
Let us, therefore, consider
2. Our omnipotent PROTECTOR.Believer, "Jehovah is your keeper." Jehovah, in all his infinite being and perfections is engaged for your protection. "He keeps the feet of his saints." He commands us to cheer his weak, fearful, and drooping people with a song. He says, "In that day, sing about the fruitful vineyard. I, the Lord, will watch over it, watering it carefully. Day and night I will watch so no one can harm it." (Isaiah 27:2-3).
But WHEN does the Lord keep us? Always, every moment. But especially in times of peculiar trial. He is always nearest when most needed. Often nearest when he is least perceived.
He keeps his people in seasons of heavy trouble. He does not keep us from trouble; but he keeps us in trouble, and he keeps us by trouble. "The Lord tries the righteous." He keeps us in the midst of many fears. Our fears dishonor him. They distress us. But in the midst of them he keeps us, and whispers to us, "Do not be afraid for I am with you. Do not be discouraged for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand!" (Isaiah 41:10). And when the night grows darker, and the storm beats more fiercely, and our fears grow stronger, and we tremble and are afraid he again says, "I hold you by your right handI, the Lord your God. And I say to you, Do not be afraid. I am here to help you!" (Isaiah 41:13).
From WHAT does the Lord keep his people? Not from common calamities. Not from severe afflictions. For they are a poor and an afflicted people.
But he keeps them from sinking under their troubles. Good hope makes them buoyant. It keeps the head above water. It points to the rainbow in the clouds to the distant streak of light, the harbinger of approaching day. The Christian may cry, "Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me!" But he shall also have to say, "He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me."
He will keep them from being overcome and conquered by inward corruption. It will work, and work mightily. It will struggle, and struggle like the drowning man. It may for a season bring them into captivity, and cause them to cry out, "I am carnal, sold under sin. Oh, wretched man that I am!" But sin shall not have dominion over them; for they are not under the law but under grace.
He will keep them from going back into the world, and apostatizing from the truth. They may be tempted to it. They may feel secretly inclined to do so. They may rashly conclude, under circumstances, that they are apostates. But no one ever did apostatize yet, who had God for his keeper. If God undertakes to keep he can do it; he will do it.
HOW does he keep them? By angelic powers. "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation" (Hebrews 1:14). And as it was promised to the Head, so it is also to every member, "He shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways" (Psalm 91:2). Holy and blessed beings are our keepers in this dangerous world!
He keeps them also by the indwelling and operation of the Holy Spirit. Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. He abides and works in every believer. Having claimed us in the Savior's name, he never renounces his claim. Having begun a good work, he never leaves it unfinished but will complete it in the day of Christ.
He keeps them by his sacred word. This is a light unto their feet, and a lantern unto their paths. It feeds them, and renews their strength. It cheers them, and animates them on their journey. It preserves them from a thousand wiles.
WHY does he keep them? Why! Because he loves and values them. No parent ever loved a child as he loves the lowest of his people. No miser ever valued his gold as he values the poorest of his saints.
And then he has pledged himself to do so. He has said, "I will keep it." Besides, he can glorify himself by doing so. Oh, what glory will redound to his holy name, when the complete number of his elect when every lamb of his fold, shall appear perfect before him in Zion! Not one missing. Not one lost. No; not inconsistent Jonah; nor backsliding Peter; nor even the unaccountable Solomon.
My Christian friend, we shall need keeping in the future; never let us forget this. Let us make sure that the Lord is our keeper. Let us daily seek his keeping; never going out into the world until we have put ourselves into his hand, by a solemn act of faith and prayer. Never let us, for one moment, trust to our own vigilance, power, or sagacity; for if we do, we shall certainly fall. Self-dependence always procures a fall.
Young Christian, look to Jesus, cleave to Jesus, trust in Jesus, and he will keep you as a lamb in the fold, as a child in a castle of rocks.
Weak Christian, look to this when Satan tempts you, when your heart misgives you, when fears oppress you, when everything appears to run cross and contrary, "The Lord is your keeper!"