Welcome to The Daily Platform. Our program features sermons from chapel services at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Every day, students are blessed by the preaching and teaching of the Bible from the University Chapel Platform. Today on The Daily Platform, Dr. Steve Pettit is continuing a study series entitled, Encountering God, which is a study of select chapters in the book of Psalms. Let me ask you to take your Bibles and turn with me please to Psalm 121. We've been working our way through the book of Psalms and our theme this semester has been Encountering God. This morning I want us to look at this Psalm that is really a greatly favored Psalm and it is about the Lord, our Helper, who comes to help us. Let's read this morning the first two verses that we'll look at the entire Psalm this morning. Psalm 121, a song of degrees or a Psalm of ascent. I will lift up my eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord which made heaven and earth. I don't know how much you know about the calendar of a Jewish year, but according to the Old Testament law that is still practiced by Jews today living in Israel, that they are required to go to the city of Jerusalem three times a year for their annual festivals or their annual feasts. One of them takes place in the springtime, March, early April, late spring getting into the summer in May, and then the last one in late September or early October.
You've probably heard of at least one or two of them. They're called Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. So these pilgrimages were to go up to the city of Jerusalem for what? Well it was a time of spiritual worship.
It was like a combination of a revival meeting and a week of vacation. And at the end of it, it was intentional to bring about in their lives spiritual refreshing, spiritual renewing, and as they left the city they would leave with spiritual rejoicing. And so Jews were required by law. So they literally came from all over what we would know as the Mediterranean region. And how did they get there? Well, by the time they got to the land of Israel, either living in it or coming from outside the country, most everybody made their way up to the city of Jerusalem by walking. So for example, Jesus lived in Nazareth which was in northern Israel and his walk was about an 85 mile walk.
Which took somewhere around four or five days to get there. So during these long journeys, what would these pilgrims do? By the way, they never traveled alone. They always traveled in large groups because that's where safety was found. So what do you think they did on these long journeys? Well what did you do as a kid growing up when your parents would travel and you'd have to travel eight, nine, or ten hours? What did you do?
Well it depends on your age. Maybe you grew up looking at an iPad, watching a movie. Maybe you had headphones on, you had a cell phone, or you did what my kids did. We had cassette tapes and they listened to Patch the Pirate.
So that's just kind of what we did traveling down the highway. Well the Jewish people, as they would travel, they would sing songs. So what songs did they sing? Well actually, God had given them songs to sing and it came out of the Jewish songbook. What is the Jewish songbook? It's the book of Psalms. And specifically, there were Psalms that were selected by God to be sung on these journeys up to the city of Jerusalem.
And what were the names of these songs? Well we saw it this morning at the bottom or right underneath Psalm 121. These are called superscriptions. And notice what it says. It's called a song of degrees. Look at Psalm 120. It says a song of degrees. A song of degrees of David. Psalm 123. And if you'll continue all the way up to Psalm 134, where it says a song of degrees, you have 15 songs that were sung by the Jews on their way to the city of Jerusalem. Now why was it called a song of degrees?
Why this designation? Well it had to do with the topography of the land. Because Jerusalem sits on top of a mountain called Mount Zion. It is the highest city in the land of Israel and it still is the highest city in the land of Israel.
It seats at about 2500 feet above sea level. Now the road that led up to Jerusalem started down in Jericho. Jericho is one of the lowest cities in the world at 800 feet below sea level. The distance from Jericho to Jerusalem is a 15 mile walk.
Below zero up to the city of Jerusalem. It was about a 3300 foot incline going uphill for 15 miles. Now it's not quite as steep as walking out of the Grand Canyon.
But that at least gives you an idea because it's about an 8 to 9 hour very difficult hike. It is hot. It is dry. The land is a desert.
It is barren. And the point is this, that everybody who traveled to Jerusalem had to go up. They had to ascend up. So these psalms are called psalms of ascent. That is being sung as you're ascending up to the city of Jerusalem.
So what's the purpose of singing these psalms? Well there's always lots of practical reasons. One reason is it helps weary travelers mentally endure a really tough . hike. But it's far more than that because it's not just practical or physical.
But it was two primary reasons. Number one it was instructional. I don't know if you've done a lot of hiking or a lot of walking but the way your mind works, at least the way my mind works, is when I walk a long distance. My wife and I and two daughters did a walk through the western side of England a number of years ago where we hiked between 10 to 14 miles. over a course of the day. Well when you do that you think a lot. So the purpose of these psalms were basically to be instructional. It was intended to teach the Jewish people certain life's lessons. And the idea is this, that life is a long journey. And you learn lessons throughout that long journey. There's one great lesson that you need to learn and you have to learn it over the long haul of life. The second reason they were to sing these psalms, of course singing it is easy to remember, but it was to be inspirational.
That is they were intended to strengthen the knowledge and the understanding of God's people about God so that they'll learn to trust God as they face the struggles of life's journey. You learn about God, but you also learn to trust God because life is a long journey. It's arduous. It's uphill.
It's oftentimes dry and hot. And these are the inspiring lessons you learn to trust God. So question, what then is the lesson of Psalm 121? What is it teaching us?
Very dangerous. What is the New Testament story that tells us about the man that was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho? And what happened to him?
He fell among thieves and he was left for dead. We call that the story of the Good Samaritan. But it teaches us a practical lesson that there are perils at every turn for travelers. So the idea of the theme of this psalm is that troubled travelers turn to trust God for security and for safety. Or we could say it very simply that what do we learn throughout life? We learn that God is our helper. That he comes to our assistance. He comes to help every one of us.
And you don't learn that over one journey, at one point, at one time in your life, but you learn it over life's long journey. That throughout the journey of your life, whether you're at the age that you're in now between 18 and 25, or at my age at 66 years old, we learn the whole time, day in and day out, that through life's long journey, God is our helper. So let's begin with the idea that the Lord is our helper found here in verses one and two.
Notice what he says. My guidance cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. So what does he say the Lord does for us? He comes to help us. The Hebrew word for help is the word ezer.
It's spelled E-Z-E-R, or you could say azer or ezer. And it's found throughout the whole Old Testament. But let me give you three simple illustrations. The first one is found in Genesis chapter two, verse 18, where it describes the first woman who was created by God for the first man. Do you remember this story? God created Adam and he put him in a garden. And one of his jobs was to name the animals.
So what did God do? Adam sat down on a stump and all the animals came marching by and he gave each animal a name. Here comes Mr. and Mrs. Skunk and all the little stinkers, you know, they come walking by. And here comes Mrs. and Mrs. Hippopotamus and all the little hippies, you know, and they come walking by. And then here comes Mr. and Mrs. Giraffe.
How cool are they? I mean, these long necks. And he watches them and they go behind the tree and they start necking with each other. And so he watches these guys.
And ladies, I don't know if you know this, but men are a little slow to get it. So after all these animals come walking by Mr. and Mrs. Skunk, he realizes that there is not someone for him. There's a Mr. Adam, but there is no Mrs. Adam. And so what did God do?
He put him in a deep sleep. And from his rib, he took out and made the first woman. And when the Bible says she was brought to him, Genesis two, it says, it is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a help meat. I will make him an azare. The woman was made to do for the man what the man could not do for himself.
And ladies, believe me, every man needs help. And that's the idea of the word, a helper. The second illustration is found in Exodus 18, where Moses names his two sons from his wife, Zipporah. The second son's name was Eliezer or El-Azer. When Hebrew parents would name their children, it would reflect their faith in God through life's experiences. And so Moses testifies through his son's name, Eliezer, that God helped deliver him from certain death by the sword of the king of Egypt. You remember at 40 years old, Moses was afraid that Pharaoh would kill him because he killed an Egyptian. And so he went to the desert and there he ends up meeting Zipporah.
And there they're married. And listen to what the Bible says in Exodus 18 four. And the name of the second son was Eliezer, which means my God, El, is help or is my help. It says, for the God of my father said he was my help and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh. So Moses experienced that God was his helper and Adam experienced that God was his helper.
And then there's a third illustration. One, I think that you know the word, but maybe not the story. It's found in 1 Samuel 7, where the Ark of the Lord is placed in a town called, and if you read it in the English, they're hard, sometimes words to read. It reads Kerjath-jearim.
If you listen to it in Hebrew, it's Kiryat Yeharim. And the Ark is there for 20 years. And during this time, the Israelites drift away from God. And Samuel the prophet speaks to the people of God and says that if they will return to the Lord, then the Lord will deliver them out of the hand of their enemies, which are called the Philistines. So what did the people do?
They responded in humility and obedience. And Samuel called all Israel to gather together for a prayer meeting at a town called Mizpah. And when the Philistines heard that the Israelites were praying in Mizpah, they went up there to fight against them.
And as the enemy was fast approaching, the people were terrified and they became desperate. And they told Samuel to continue in prayer to the Lord. And what did God do?
He did a powerful work. Listen to 1 Samuel 7 10. And the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines and discomfited them. That is confused them or shook them to the core. And they were smitten before Israel.
And what was the result? Samuel set up a stone to remember what God did for his people at that place. And listen to 1 Samuel 7 12. Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shin and called the name of it Ebeneezer. Or in Hebrew, Eben Ezer. And it literally means the stone of help. And the point is when they put the stone there and named it Ebeneezer, they were saying that till now, up until this point, the Lord has helped us. So we sing, for example, in the famous hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, the second stanza, where it goes, Here I raise my Ebeneezer, hither by thy help I'm come. And I hope by thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home.
What is it saying? God's help has brought me safely thus far. That's the song that we sing, that the Lord is our helper. So I want to ask you this morning, are you recognizing that the Lord is your helper? Perhaps you're here today and you say, I have no sense of God helping me. Well, could it be that you're far away from God?
Or could it be that you are self-sufficient in your attitude? But the true attitude of a child of God is that without Him, we can do nothing. That God is our helper. I was preaching in Chicago a number of years ago.
And on the Sunday morning, I actually preached this Psalm, Psalm 21, the Lord is our helper. Little did I realize that there was a couple there in the church who had been missionaries in South Africa. They had had a very, very difficult experience that they had gone through in South Africa, which actually brought them back to the States. Their lives had been threatened. They had almost been killed.
And so they came home on furlough and the wife was very, very fearful to go back, to go back and serve in the land where life was threatened, her children were threatened. And that morning they sat in the church service. And the message was Psalm 121. The Lord is our helper. And it was that truth that was planted in her heart that morning that gave her the strength to be able to get on that plane and go back and serve God in a foreign land in South Africa. The Lord is our helper.
May I ask you a question? Do you have a testimony that you can lay a stone down somewhere in your life and say, the Lord helped me here? There are spots all over the campus of Bob Jones University. When I was a student here, one is backside of campus between Johnson Dormitory and Broken Shire Dormitory, where I was begging God for help in my life financially. And within five minutes, God miraculously answered that prayer in the most surprising and unusual way. And I never walk back there where I don't think here is my Ebenezer. The Lord has helped me.
But it wasn't one time when I was a student here like 40 years ago. But I need the Lord's help more today than I've ever needed the Lord's help in my life. And Psalm 121 says, God is our azar. He is our helper.
Now that leads to the second point. And that is if God in general is our helper, then specifically, then how is he my helper? And that's where I want us to go back to the rest of the Psalm.
And I'd like to read it, if I may, out of the English Standard Version, because you see the word keep here over and over. The Lord is our helper because the Lord is our keeper. How do I know he helps me? Because he keeps me.
Look at what he says beginning in verse three. He will not let your foot be moved. He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper. The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day nor the moon by night. 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. The word keep here is used six times in these six verses. It means to watch over you. In the Bible, it's used to describe a gardener who tins his garden.
That's what Adam did. He kept the garden. It's used to refer to a shepherd who watches over the flock. He is a keeper. It refers to a man who is watching or guarding his house. In modern day, it refers to a goalie on the soccer team.
He's called the keeper, and he's protecting the goal. And what he is saying here is the Lord helps us by keeping us. And how does he keep us? He keeps us throughout life's journey in three specific ways. Number one, he keeps us from falling under the heavy weight of the journey. Look at what he says, if you will, please, in verse three. He will not suffer your foot to be moved.
He that keepeth you will not slumber. Think about it. Ancient travelers had to travel by foot for days carrying their luggage. How would you like to carry your luggage? How would you like to carry your wife's luggage? Consider the burden of it.
Do you know what? At times, there are burdens that we feel that we don't know if we can keep going. There are times where I want to take the burden and throw it away. But what does the Lord say? He is your helper. He will not suffer your foot to be moved.
What does that mean? Psalm 55, 22, cast your burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee. He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. When we carry a heavy weight, we feel like we're going to stumble and fall.
What does Jude tell us? He is able to keep you from falling. And so the Lord will actually carry the burden for us.
Many times we live with fear and worry and anxiety, and it becomes very hard, and it becomes very depressing. And yet the Lord says, here's how I can help you. I can keep you from falling.
I can carry the weight for you. Have you mentally and in your heart taken your burdens and have you rolled them on the Lord because he is strong enough to carry them? But then secondly, how is it that the Lord keeps us? The scripture says his care for us is constant and undistracted.
Notice what it says. He that keepeth you will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. How many of you have ever fallen asleep in class? Would you raise your hand? How many of you have actually snored in class?
Anybody do that? A couple of you. I was preaching here my first year or two as the president. I remember a guy was sitting right about out in here. That guy wasn't sleeping. His head was dropped back. His mouth looked like a gaping well. And I saw his whole mouth was open.
He was literally out. Well, God never takes a nap. God never gets tired.
How many of you a week and a half ago were really tired? Really tired. Well, God never gets tired. He never gets distracted.
Do you ever get distracted in class? God never gets disinterested. God never gets bored. You know, there are some people who are really boring. Let's be honest.
They're just boring. But God never gets bored of you. God's strength never loses its charge.
It's at a hundred percent perpetually. And the Lord's care for you is not like He goes on vacation and He leaves you alone. That God's care for you is at every moment at every second throughout the day. And then thirdly, the Bible tells us here that the Lord keeps us by protecting us from imminent danger. The sun will not smite you by day nor the moon by night.
It's hard for us to imagine this. But it is true that the sun in Israel is oppressively hot. The relentless heat drains the traveler of his strength, especially in the desert. I've been there many times. And there is nothing more comforting than shade. A little shade with a little wind.
And what is He saying here? God provides comfort and relief from the heat. The Lord is your shade upon His right hand. You do not have to live in fear of the dangers that hide at night in the shadows and lurk in the darkness because God is always there to protect us. The Lord is our helper.
And how does He do that? He keeps us throughout the entire journey of life. He will never forsake you.
He will always keep you. What a comforting reality. And what a reality that we can take before the throne of God and say to God. Because what is prayer? Prayer is not just asking God for things.
It's actually arguing with God that He will be who He promises to be. Lord, you are my helper. Lord, I need your help.
I need your guidance. I need your protection. I need your care. I need your support. I need your provision. Lord, you are my helper.
And I'm going to trust you to do that. And we bow our heads together for prayer. Dear Lord, we look to you today as our helper and our keeper. Thank you that you have promised to provide our every need and to protect us along all of our journey. Keep us, Lord, from evil and temptation. Lord, we depend on you for your power to overcome our own natures. Lord, we roll our burdens on you because you can carry them. And Lord, we ask you for your continual presence to bring us relief and comfort. And thank you, Lord, that your power is eternal and your care is perpetual. Lord, thank you for being our helper. In Jesus' name, amen. You've been listening to a sermon from Dr. Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University, from the study series, Encountering God, which is a study from the book of Psalms. Thanks for listening and join us again tomorrow as we continue this study of Psalms here on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-12 18:22:38 / 2022-11-12 18:32:37 / 10