The Lord Surrounds His People
With my wife being a schoolteacher, and myself a college student, and our wedding taking place during our Christmas breaks, we had little time and no money to spend on an elaborate honeymoon. Over the next year, we saved and planned for a belated honeymoon on our one-year anniversary to Salt Lake City, Utah. After the flight was over, the rental car obtained, and all the hustle and bustle of the traveling behind us, it didn’t take long for us to see the beauty of God’s creation all around us. Literally. Salt Lake City lies in a mountain valley with the Wasatch Mountains to the east and north, and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west, so, being surrounded by the incredible mountains covered in snow, is a memory still vividly etched in my mind.
Psalm 125:1-5 “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore. For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong. Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts! But those who turn aside to their crooked ways the Lord will lead away with evildoers! Peace be upon Israel!”
First, the Psalter likens God’s people to the mountains, and for good reason. The God who created all the mountains created you and He created me, and He will not let our feet be moved; He who keeps us will not slumber (Psalm 121). And so, just like to the Psalter who would have seen and witnessed the never moving nature of Mount Zion, we too can be just as unmoving if we will only trust in the Lord. Unmoving with regards to fear. We won’t be a people who get scared into wavering from God’s standard of integrity regardless of shame today’s society tries to shade us with. Unmoving with regards to anxiety. We won’t be a people who will allow worries of what might be stop us from loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and loving our neighbor as ourselves, evidenced by good works. Unmoving with regards to resolve. We won’t be a people who make commitments to our families, ourselves, or our God only to not follow through at the end. Finally, unmoving with regards to our devotion to the true Word of God. We won’t be a people who toss aside God’s Word seeking something that “fits better” with the times. We will be bold, strong, committed, and true, if we will only trust in God.
Secondly, the Psalter likens God to the mountains that surround Jerusalem, which is a wonderful use of imagery. It perfectly depicts God’s unending love for His people while also inducing thoughts regarding the magnitude and depth of such love. I remember the overwhelming beauty and size of the mountain ranges surrounding us on the trip. Wherever we went, there they were, still encircling us as if we and they had never moved. God is unmoving. He will remain nearby when physical/earthly families may not accept our decision to walk with God. He will remain nearby when life goals, short or long-term, are devastatingly take from us or seem impossibly out of reach. He will remain nearby when temptation is knocking, and Satan is trying to wear you down. God will remain nearby, yes, but also completely surround us and protect us.
Psalm 3:1-8 “O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God. But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people!”
Lastly, I believe the Psalter is bringing to light something that is deeply engrained in man. “Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, but lead away those who turn to crooked ways.” In our jobs, schools, governments, judicial systems, etc., we yearn for justice. We yearn for good to be victorious and for evil to suffer great defeats. Like in this psalm, there are many examples throughout the book of Psalms where the author is calling for God to punish the wicked and to uphold the righteous, and these I think are incredibly useful in reminding God’s people today where salvation and punishment (spiritually speaking) reside, and that is with God. Part of trusting in God is trusting that He, in His time, and in His ways, will perfectly administer judgment on the foes of this world.
Being surrounded by his unmoving love and care for us, may we wait, trusting in God and mirroring his love, for not only his people, but for all men. God as the mountains; we as Jerusalem.
1 Pet. 3:8-9 “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”