Psalm 121:3
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
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(3) He will not.—The LXX. and Vulg. rightly, “may He not suffer,” &c. The Hebrew cannot be a simple negative. That it is Israel which is addressed the next verse seems to prove.

Psalm 121:3-8. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved — To wit, so as to fall into mischief. He speaks, as it were, from God to himself, but, withal, to the encouragement of all good men. He that keepeth thee will not slumber — Will not overlook nor neglect any thing which is necessary for thy preservation. The Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand — Both to refresh thee, and keep thee from the burning heat of the sun. In those countries where the heat of the sun was intolerable, shady places were esteemed not only very refreshing, but likewise salutary, and necessary to the preservation of health and life. When, therefore, the psalmist styles God his shade, he means that he protected him from danger, and refreshed him with comforts. The sun shall not smite thee by day — With excessive heat; nor the moon by night — With that cold and damp which come into the air by it. Intemperate heats and colds are the springs of many diseases. And, “as the heat of the sun by day, so the copious dews, which fall most abundantly in the moonshine, were very pernicious in those countries.” The sense is, He shall protect thee from all evils, both day and night. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and coming in — Shall guard and assist thee in all thy expeditions, journeys, and affairs, both at home and abroad; from this time forth, and even for evermore — He will be thy guide even unto death, and then bring thee to his heavenly kingdom. God will protect his church and his saints always, even to the end of the world; the Spirit, which is their preserver and comforter, shall abide with them for ever.

121:1-8 The safety of the godly. - We must not rely upon men and means, instruments and second causes. Shall I depend upon the strength of the hills? upon princes and great men? No; my confidence is in God only. Or, we must lift up our eyes above the hills; we must look to God who makes all earthly things to us what they are. We must see all our help in God; from him we must expect it, in his own way and time. This psalm teaches us to comfort ourselves in the Lord, when difficulties and dangers are greatest. It is almighty wisdom that contrives, and almighty power that works the safety of those that put themselves under God's protection. He is a wakeful, watchful Keeper; he is never weary; he not only does not sleep, but he does not so much as slumber. Under this shade they may sit with delight and assurance. He is always near his people for their protection and refreshment. The right hand is the working hand; let them but turn to their duty, and they shall find God ready to give them success. He will take care that his people shall not fall. Thou shalt not be hurt, neither by the open assaults, nor by the secret attempts of thine enemies. The Lord shall prevent the evil thou fearest, and sanctify, remove, or lighten the evil thou feelest. He will preserve the soul, that it be not defiled by sin, and disturbed by affliction; he will preserve it from perishing eternally. He will keep thee in life and death; going out to thy labour in the morning of thy days, and coming home to thy rest when the evening of old age calls thee in. It is a protection for life. The Spirit, who is their Preserver and Comforter, shall abide with them for ever. Let us be found in our work, assured that the blessings promised in this psalm are ours.He will not suffer thy foot to be moved - He will enable you to stand firm. You are safe in his protection. Compare the notes at Psalm 38:16. This, with the remainder of the psalm, seems to be of the nature of an answer to the anxious question in Psalm 121:1 - an answer which the author of the psalm, in danger and trouble, makes to his own soul, imparting confidence to himself.

He that keepeth thee will not slumber - He will be ever watchful and wakeful. Compare Isaiah 27:3. All creatures, as far as we know, sleep; God never sleeps. Compare Psalm 139:11-12. His eyes are upon us by day, and in the darkness of the night - the night literally; and also the night of calamity, woe, and sorrow.

3, 4. His sleepless vigilance is added.

to be moved—(Compare Ps 38:16; 66:9).

He speaketh as it were from God to himself, but withal to the encouragement of his followers and of all good men.

To be moved, to wit, so as fall into mischief.

Will not slumber; will not overlook nor neglect any thing which is necessary for thy preservation.

He wilt not suffer thy foot to be moved,.... This is either an address of the psalmist to his own soul; or to any other good man, his friend and acquaintance, assuring of stability, and of final perseverance in grace to glory. The Lord keeps the feet of his saints from falling: he will not suffer them to be moved out of the spiritual estate in which they stand; nor off of the Foundation and Rock of ages, on which their feet are set, and their goings established; nor out of the house of God, where they are as pillars; nor out of his ways, where he upholds their goings; moved in some sense they may be, yet not "greatly moved"; their feet may be "almost" gone, and their steps "well nigh" slipped, and yet shall not fall finally and totally, or so as to perish; see Psalm 62:2;

he that keepeth thee will not slumber; neither angels nor men are the keepers of the saints, but the Lord himself; he is the keeper of every individual saint, of every regenerate person, of everyone of his sheep, of every member of his church; he keeps them by his power, he preserves them by his grace, he holds them with his right hand; guides them by his counsel, keeps their feet from falling, and brings them safe to glory: and a watchful keeper he is, he does not so much as slumber; he keeps them night and day, lest any harm them, Isaiah 27:3. Gussetius reads the whole as a prayer, "let him not suffer thy foot", &c. "let not thy keeper slumber" (i); to which the answer follows.

(i) "ne permittat--ne dormitet", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Ainsworth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not {b} slumber.

(b) He shows that God's providence not only watches over his Church in general, but also over every member of it.

3. It is maintained by some grammarians that the negative particle ’al “sometimes expresses merely the subjective feeling and sympathy of the speaker with the act” (Davidson, Syntax, § 128, R. 2), and consequently the rendering of the A.V. is retained in the R.V. Psalm 121:4 will then repeat the ‘subjective feeling’ of Psalm 121:3 as a categorical assertion. But here at any rate it is preferable, with R.V. marg., to retain the usual deprecative meaning of ’al; May he not suffer thy foot to be moved; may he that keepeth thee not slumber! and in Psalm 121:4 the speaker as it were corrects himself, or possibly another speaker chimes in: ‘Nay, there is no need for such a prayer, for Israel’s keeper never sleeps.’ Israel’s watchman is not like a human sentinel, liable to be overcome by sleep upon his watch; He is not such as the heathen suppose their gods to be (1 Kings 18:27), but unceasing in His vigilance. He that keepeth Israel may be an allusion to Genesis 28:15.

3, 4. It is possible to suppose that the speaker of Psalm 121:1-2. addresses himself, but it is more natural to hear in these verses the voice of another speaker, answering the first with words of encouragement.

Verse 3. - He will not suffer thy foot to be moved. The psalmist addresses himself with consolatory assurances. God will not allow any evil to approach him, so as to do him hurt. He that keepeth thee will not slumber. God does not sleep - his vigilance is unceasing (comp. Isaiah 27:3). Psalm 121:3Apollinaris renders as meaninglessly as possible: ὄμματα δενδροκόμων ὀρέων ὑπερεξετάνυσσα - with a reproduction of the misapprehended ἦρα of the lxx. The expression in fact is אשּׂא, and not נשׂאתי. And the mountains towards which the psalmist raises his eyes are not any mountains whatsoever. In Ezekiel the designation of his native land from the standpoint of the Mesopotamian plain is "the mountains of Israel." His longing gaze is directed towards the district of these mountains, they are his ḳibla, i.e., the sight-point of his prayer, as of Daniel's, Daniel 6:11. To render "from which my help cometh" (Luther) is inadmissible. מאין is an interrogative even in Joshua 2:4, where the question is an indirect one. The poet looks up to the mountains, the mountains of his native land, the holy mountains (Psalm 133:3; Psalm 137:1; Psalm 125:2), when he longingly asks: whence will my help come? and to this question his longing desire itself returns the answer, that his help comes from no other quarter than from Jahve, the Maker of heaven and earth, from His who sits enthroned behind and upon these mountains, whose helpful power reaches to the remotest ends and corners of His creation, and with (עם) whom is help, i.e., both the willingness and the power to help, so that therefore help comes from nowhere but from (מן) Him alone. In Psalm 121:1 the poet has propounded a question, and in Psalm 121:2 replies to this question himself. In Psalm 121:3 and further the answering one goes on speaking to the questioner. The poet is himself become objective, and his Ego, calm in God, promises him comfort, by unfolding to him the joyful prospects contained in that hope in Jahve. The subjective אל expresses a negative in both cases with an emotional rejection of that which is absolutely impossible. The poet says to himself: He will, indeed, surely not abandon thy foot to the tottering (למּוט, as in Psalm 66:9, cf. Psalm 55:23), thy Keeper will surely not slumber; and then confirms the assertion that this shall not come to pass by heightening the expression in accordance with the step-like character of the Psalm: Behold the Keeper of Israel slumbereth not and sleepeth not, i.e., He does not fall into slumber from weariness, and His life is not an alternate waking and sleeping. The eyes of His providence are ever open over Israel.
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