Thursday of 1 Lent

The Lord will Keep You – Psalm 121

“The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life.  The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”

Psalm 121:7-8

The promise that the Psalmist stands upon is that the Lord “will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life.”  This hopeful exile is already looking toward life in Jerusalem where homes will be rebuilt and the returnees will be able to go out and come in from their own homes.  For the Jews, that “going out and coming in” is a sacred act.  The doorway of a home is reminiscent of the first Passover in Egypt when God commanded the Israelites to sprinkle blood on the doorposts as a sign, and for protection from the angel of death (Exodus 11).  Faithful Jews place a Mezuzah on their doorposts as a reminder of this protection.  A Mezuzah is a small decorative case containing a fragment of parchment upon which the words of the Shema (Deut. 6:4-9) are written.  This fulfills the command to “write the words of God on the doorposts of your house” (Deut. 6:9).  When we go out or come in to our home we are passing, as it were, from one world to another.  As liturgical Christians, we can sanctify that transition with a font of holy water by the doorway.  When we make the sign of the cross with the holy water upon our departure or our return, it is a reminder to us that though we may be moving out into the world, or returning from it, we belong to another kingdom, and by our baptism we have been marked as Christ’s own forever.  We are reminded that the Lord will be with us; He will keep us from all evil; He will keep our life.

This “signing,” as we pass through the doorway of our home, is a sign of worship.  Worship is the essential component of our life in Christ as we walk in His paths.  Worship is the practice of putting God first in all that we do.  It is the act of assigning “worth” to God above the worth we place on the things of this world.  As we sanctify the doorway of our home, we declare our home to be first and foremost a “house of God”, and we make our home in Him.  Our homes are intended by God to be havens of peace, even as Jerusalem is the “City of Peace”.  

The prophet Isaiah foresaw the day when the Lord would restore Jerusalem, and at the beginning of his written prophecy he cried out, 

It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’ 

Isaiah 2:2-3

The Psalmist wanted to return to Jerusalem, to the mountain of the house of the Lord, and to rebuild the house of worship, the Holy Temple, on that mountain.  Then both returnees and the pilgrims from the nations could go out and come in to the Lord’s house and He could “teach us His ways, and that we may walk in His paths.”  And the Psalmist’s hope stretched further, that even the homes of the returnees would be safe havens, places where they could go out and come in before the Lord.  He believed that the Lord would keep their lives in His eternal care, that their homes would be places of worship.  

“The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”  Let us give to Him who keeps us from all evil the worth that He so richly deserves.

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