Guarded in the Mountains
Joel, my second son, turned forty and like his older brother, he decided to celebrate by hiking in the Adirondacks. As teenagers raised in Texas, backpacking in these rugged mountains was a major coming-of- age challenge. They love to return to Upstate New York, and I love spending four days hiking with my now grown sons. It was the highlight of last fall, but in Old Israel hiking in the mountains was not something you did for fun.
Three times a year all the men, often with their families, hiked back to Jerusalem to worship and hiking in those hills was dangerous. The semi-desert terrain threatened sunstroke and, like the trails in the Adirondacks, rocks could become a killer.
When we celebrated my oldest’s fortieth, Joel slipped coming down Algonquin and his ankle became a goose egg. He’s always endured pain, but watching him wince, as he had to maneuver the rocks on the steep descent, I wondered whether we would end up carrying him out. The writer of Psalm 121 knew steep rocky trails. Six times in the eight lines of his poem, he stresses that the LORD will guard him in the hills.
“My help is from the LORD the maker of heaven and earth. He does not let your foot stumble. Your guard does not slumber…The LORD guards you from all harm, He guards your life. The LORD guards your going and coming, now and forevermore.” Psalm 121: 3, 7-8
LORD, I need You to guard me not only when I’m hiking with my sons but as I travel in July to interact with some pastors on how to preach Your Story. Protect me this day from not only stumbling physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. Help me remember that this Psalm also promises that You will guard Israel for all time; therefore, there will come a day when the Jews as Your people will acknowledge that Your Son is their Messiah.
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