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Psalm 121:6-8

6. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. 6565     There seems to be an allusion in the first member to sun-strokes, which are very fatal in hot countries, sometimes inflicting instant death, or being soon followed by death, while at other times, when the person lives, he continues through the remainder of his days in a state of idiocy. Comparatively few survive and perfectly recover the effects of such a visitation. What the Psalmist means by the smiting of the moon is at first sight not so obvious. Some suppose that he speaks in conformity with a popular belief, which it is supposed prevailed in the East in his time, just as it does in the present day, respecting the deleterious influence of the moonbeams on the human body, although there is no ground for such a belief, the moon no doubt getting the blame of the injury done by the cold and dampness of the night. But the probability is, that by the striking of the moon he simply alludes to the cold of the night, which has very baneful effects on the human frame, particularly in such oriental countries as Palestine, where there is a sudden change from extreme heat in the day to extreme cold in the night. 7. Jehovah shall keep thee from all evil; he will keep thy soul. 8. Jehovah will keep thy going out and thy coming in, henceforth and for ever.


6. The sun shall not smite thee by day. By these forms of expression the Psalmist magnifies the advantages which result to us from our having God present with us; and, by the figure synecdoche, under one particular, he declares in general that the faithful shall be safe from all adversities, defended as they are by Divine power. The language is metaphorical, the cold of night and the heat of day denoting all kind of inconveniences. The sense then is, that although God’s people may be subject in common with others to the miseries of human life, yet his shadow is always at their side to shield them from thereby receiving any harm. The Prophet does not, however, promise the faithful a condition of such felicity and comfort as implies an exemption from all trouble; he only, for the purpose of assuaging their sorrows, sets before them this consolation — that being interested in the Divine layout, they shall be secure from all deadly harm; a point which he unfolds more distinctly in the following verses, where he tells us that God will so keep his own people from all evils, as to maintain their life in safety. The statement in the text before us is indeed general, but he afterwards specifies the chief parts of human life.

8. Jehovah will keep thy going out and thy coming in. The sense is, Whatever thou shalt undertake or engage in during thy life shall come to a happy and successful termination. God no doubt directs by his Holy Spirit the, deliberations of his servants; but it appears to me, that this passage is rather to be referred to prosperous issues. If, however, any one would give it a more extended meaning I have no objection. It is enough for me to embrace that sense which is indisputably certain and solid, That God will be the continual guide of his people, so that stretching out his hand to them he will conduct them according to their hearts’ desire from the beginning even to the end. Farther, it is of importance to mark the reason why the Prophet repeats so often what he had briefly and in one word expressed with sufficient plainness. Such repetition seems at first sight superfluous; but when we consider how difficult it is to correct our distrust, it will be easily perceived that he does not improperly dwell upon the commendation of the divine providence. How few are to be found who yield to God the honor of being a keeper, in order to their being thence assured of their safety, and led to call upon him in the midst of their perils! On the contrary, even when we seem to have largely experienced what this protection of God implies, we yet instantly tremble at the noise of a leaf falling from a tree, as if God had quite forgotten us. Being then entangled in so many unholy misgivings, and so much inclined to distrust, we are taught from the passage that if a sentence couched in a few words does not suffice us, we should gather together whatever may be found throughout the whole Scriptures concerning the providence of God, until this doctrine-” That God always keeps watch for us” — is deeply rooted in our hearts; so that depending upon his guardianship alone we may bid adieu to all the vain confidences of the world.

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