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.
“Keep safe” seems to have become many people’s default way of saying “goodbye” during this Corona virus pandemic. They realise that there is a hidden enemy; only its effects can be seen. They are, in a way, saying, “Do all you can to stick to the rules, minimise the chance of becoming ill and don’t take chances.” Rarely do they mean, “put your trust in an all knowing, all seeing God, to whom you can turn at any time, assured that He will keep his own.” Only Christians know who is responsible for their safe keeping. However, in the midst of a crisis even believers can lose sight of the One who cares for them and and keeps them.
The power of God – “I am kept”, was one man’s stock answer if anyone asked him how he was keeping. It was his testimony to the faithfulness of a loving God. (Incidentally, it also gave him an opportunity to explain the gospel.) The apostle Peter wrote to believers who were experiencing “various trials” mainly through persecution (1 Peter 1:6), and encouraged them to go on in the faith by reminding them that they were people “who by God’s power are being guarded [kept] through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). He did not play down their circumstances and anxieties, in fact he told them that things would get worse, but what he did do was to emphasise that, however powerful the oppressor was, their Saviour was all-powerful and would never desert or neglect them. Nor is He indifferent to his redeemed people and their concerns. The Psalmist encouraged the Lord’s people in the same way in his day – “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 for evermore.” (Psalm 121:4-8). The apostle reminded his readers that to suffer is where God wants them to be for the time being. It is one of the ways in which our spiritual lives can be enriched, as our faith is tried. He said, “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (1 Peter 4.19).
John Martin, Lampeter Evangelical Church