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Bible Commentaries

Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms

Psalms 121

Verses 1-8

V. 1, 2. Some read the first verse as an interrogation, " Shall I lift up, &c ? " (marg.) as if the Psalmist had enquired whether it became him, as a worshipper of God, to look up to those hills for help, on which idolaters worshipped their idols. But the sentence, as it stands in our version, may mean, that he would look up to the hill of Zion, or Moriah, on which the tabernacle was placed, for help from that God, whose glory appeared above the mercy-seat. If David was the writer of this psalm, (as is most probable,) and if it be explained as it stands in our version; it must relate to other dangers and difficulties, and not to those of his persecutions by Saul ; for the hill of Zion was not in Israel’s possession, nor was the ark placed there, till after Saul’s death. (Nolcs, 2 Samuel 5:6-9; 2 Samuel 6:12-13.) ’Though 1 am driven, not only from ’ my own palace, but from God’s dwelling-place; yet my ’eyes shall be ever directed thitherward ; from whence 1 expect a powerful aid against those numerous enemies, that are combined to destroy me.’ lip. Patrick.

V. 3, 4 (Mars. Ref. Notes, Psalms 16:8-11. Psalms 37:23-24. 1 Samuel 2:9. Proverbs 3:23-25.) ’ Bishop Lowlh supposeth the first two verses to be the language of David, ’ when going out to war ; and the answer of eneourage’ ment to be made by the high priest from the holy place.’ Bp. Home. If, however, the psalm was written when David was driven away from Jerusalem by Absalom, this could not be : yet, it seems to have been composed, in order to be sung responsively ; and these verses form the response to the preceding avowal of confidence in God. ’ In him thou hast a Guardian, who is not like all others, ’ liable to remit his care, by being subject to sleep or death. ’ The eye of his Providence is upon thee, and that is always ’open. "Behold, He that keepeth Israel neither slumbereth nor sleepeth." ’ Bp. Home. (Notes, Psalms 44:23-26. 1 Kings 18:27-29.)

He will not suffer, &c. (3) jn;-to . This might perhaps be more literally rendered as a prayer ; and the two verses translated in connexion thus : " May he not suffer thy " foot to be moved ! may he who keepeth thee not slum’ ber ! Behold, he will not slumber, neither will he sleep, " keeping Israel." The former verse appears to be the language of supplication ; the latter, of assured confidence. This marked difference between the Hebrew negative particles >fi and "> is generally observed by our Translators ; and this is one of the very few instances of the contrary.

V. 5- 8. As the pillar of cloud and fire shaded Israel in the wilderness, from the scorching noon-day sun, and from the chilling cold and unwholesome influences of the night, over which the moon presides ; (Note, Genesis 31:40;) so the Lord shelters his people from every open assault, and every insidious attempt of persecutors, seducers, or the powers of darkness.

(Notes, Exodus 13:21-22. Numbers 10:33-34. Matthew 6:13. 2 Timothy 4:16-18.)

Nor scorching sun, nor sickly moon, Shall have his leave to smite; He shields thy head from burning noon, From blasting damps at night. ’ He guards thy soul, he keeps thy breath, here thickest dangers come ; Go and return, secure from death, Till God commands thee home.’ Watts.

’ He sheweth that God’s providence not only watcheth ’ over his church in general ; but also over every member ’ thereof.’ (Notes, Psalms 91:3-12. Psalms 125:1-2. Job 5:20-27.) For evermore. (S) Notes, Psalms 37:37-38. Psalms 48:14; Psalms 73:23-28.


During the believer’s wearisome pilgrimage and perilous warfare, he should constantly look unto him, who bled on mount Calvary, and who now reigns upon the holy hill of Zion ; in whom " we have righteousness and strength," through whom we have access to the mercy-seat, and to JEHOVAH as our Father, and by whom we shall ere long be received into everlasting mansions. The Helper and " Keeper of Israel" is the almighty Creator of heaven and earth; and " if he be for us, who can be against us?" (Notes, Romans 8:28-39.) We should then enquire, whether we belong to this holy nation, this peculiar people ; which being ascertained, we may dismiss our anxious cares and fears ; or only be careful to use the appointed means, and be found employed in our proper work. (Noles, Matthew 6:25-32. Philippians 4:5-7.) The Lord will " uphold " our goings in his ways, that our footsteps slip not." He " neither slumbereth nor sleepeth ; " he will keep his people night and day, in dangers, snares, temptations, and persecutions ; from open and secret enemies : he will preserve them from all real evil, and make all seeming evil work together for their good : he will protect their lives, during the appointed period, and order all the circumstances of their departure : lie will preserve their souls, and take care of them in going out and coming in ; when present with their bodies, and when separated, and when again united to them, from this time forth for evermore. (Notes,Psalms 84:11-12. 2 Corinthians 5:5-8. Philippians 1:21-26; Philippians 3:20-21.) " Happy are the people that are in such a " case ; yea, blessed are the people, who have the LORD " for their God."

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Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 121". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. 1804.