Psalm 121:5-6 - 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.
We are accustomed to describing God in terms from Scripture that are very familiar to us. We may call Him our King, Shepherd, Creator, or Savior, but the psalmist describes the Lord in terms that we do not often use. The Lord is our keeper and our shade.
When God confronted Cain for the murder of his brother Abel, Cain asked in pretended innocence, "Am I my brother's keeper?" (Genesis 4:9b) What could he possibly know about his brother? Was he responsible for him? Cain was responsible; he was supposed to "keep" his brother, to care for him. Scripture speaks of people who were keepers of many kinds of things—livestock, prisons, gates, and vineyards. Abel, Cain's brother and victim, was a keeper of sheep. To be a keeper of things or people was to have responsibility for them, to guard them and see to their care.
God is our keeper. He created and redeemed us. In love and grace, He has made us His own through Christ Jesus. The Lord has taken responsibility for our care. He came among us to be our Shepherd, our keeper, to guard and guide His precious flock as the prophet Isaiah foretold: "He will tend His flock like a Shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms" (Isaiah 40:11). As a vinedresser keeps a vineyard, our Heavenly Father is the Vinedresser, the keeper who tends His carefully planted vines. Jesus said, "I am the true Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit" (John 15:1-2).
The psalmist also rejoices in God as the shade at our right hand. We may not often think about shade of any kind, except when seeking relief on a hot summer day. Yet for desert-dwelling people who must survive in a climate marked by heat and blinding sunlight, the shade of a rock, tree, or tent offers welcome sanctuary from the deadly heat. Rulers in ancient realms did not have to search for shade. Servants stood beside them holding a canopy overhead as a shelter from the sun. God is our shade, our ever-present shelter. He covers us with His love. He protects us from flaring troubles that may arise under the day's bright sun. He shields us from the fear and anxiety that may strike us on long, moonlit nights.
Jesus our Lord experienced the heat of the day and often prayed through the long hours of the night. On a day when the hot sunlight was swallowed by darkness, Jesus took onto Himself the responsibility for our sin and guilt. Then, in the bright dawn of the first Easter, Jesus rose to life, scattering the darkness of sin and death. Our crucified and risen Lord is our keeper and the shade at our right hand. He will keep us, to guide and guard us. He will shelter us in the welcome shade of His love.
WE PRAY: God and Savior, keep me in Your care, today and always. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler.
1. What are your favorites words to describe God?
2. What do you think of when you hear that God the Father is the Vinedresser and Jesus is the true Vine?
3. What does it mean to bear fruit in Jesus? Do you believe God is using you to bear fruit? How so?
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