Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Guardian of the Galaxies

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Watch Nancy teach this message.

Leslie Basham: Most days, could you use an afternoon nap? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is thankful that God never grows tired or weary.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: God never sleeps. He never forgets. He never forgets your situation. The people of Israel would sometimes cry out to God and say, “Have You forgotten us?” This is a reminder that our Keeper is always watching us. He’s always actively caring for us.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for March 12, 2019.

Nancy’s here with day 2 in the series, “A Song for the Christian’s Journey.”

Nancy: You may have heard people talking about “Guardian of the Galaxy.” Does that phrase ring a bell? This is a fictitious superhero team that travels into space. They made their first appeared in the Marvel Comic books beginning in the late 60s, and that story has become the basis for two popular superhero films by the same name, 2014 and 2017, Guardians of the Galaxy.

I have to tell you, I didn’t know anything about Guardians of the Galaxy. I still don’t know much, but here’s a little sentence that I read about them. It says:

In the aftermath of the Phalanx invasion of the Kree, Star-Lord decides to form a team of interstellar heroes that will be proactive in protecting the galaxy, rather than reacting to crises as they happen.

And, apparently, this team is sometimes successful at warding off those invasions, and sometimes they’re not. So, that’s the Guardians of the Galaxy, so they say.

And I’m here to tell you today, as we continue our look at Psalm 121, that there is a Guardian of the Galaxy, and He is not fictional, and He doesn’t require a team. This is the one true and living God, and He never fails, and He never loses.

I couldn’t help but think of that term, “The Guardians of the Galaxy,” as I have been reading and re-reading and meditating on Psalm 121 in recent weeks.

Let’s read the psalm again, and we’ll pick up where we left off in the last session.

This is a Song of Ascents—songs that would be sung by the Jewish pilgrims en route to Jerusalem for the annual feast days and holy days. “We’re Marching to Zion”—you know that old gospel song? That’s the picture you have here. These are happy people. These are eager people. They’re eager to be in the presence of the Lord. And so they’re singing the songs of the Lord—Psalm 120 to 134 are labeled this way: Songs of Ascent—climbing toward the mountain of Jerusalem where the temple of God is.

And so the psalmist says:

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth (vv. 1–2).

Now, as we read the rest of this psalm the question is: How does God help us? And in verses 2 through 8, I want you to watch for repeated words that give us an indication of how God helps us in more specific ways.

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 (vv. 3–8).

Today we’re going to unpack verses 3 and 4 and the first part of verse 5. And just let me say, before we jump into that, I’ll point out a big picture observation here. Verses 1 and 2 are in the first person (“I” and “my”). “I lift up my eyes unto the hills. From where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord.”

When you get to verses 3­ through 8, you see it’s in the second person. It’s not “I” and “my,” but it’s “you” and “your.” “He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber,” etc.

Now, people have speculated as to why there’s that difference. And what’s the difference between the first two verses and verses 3 through 8?

One thought is that in verses 1 and 2, there’s an individual worshiper who’s asking this question. “Where does my help come from.” And that the rest of the psalm is another pilgrim or one of the priests answering the question. It’s a response to the question of verse 1.

So, “Where does my help come from?” The answer is, “He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.”

So there’s dialogue going on between these worshipers.

Another thought is that this whole thing could be the psalmist having a dialogue with himself. You ever do that? I know I do. And it’s not unheard of in Scripture.

For example, in Psalm 42, “Why are you cast down, O my soul?” And then the answer is, “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him” (v. 11). So the psalmist is counseling his own heart. He’s saying, “Why are you cast down, heart? Why are you discouraged?” He’s saying that to himself. And then he answers himself: “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him.”

That’s the kind of thing that could be going on here. “Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord.”

And then he tells his own soul: “He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.”

This is what I call counseling your heart according to truth. Sometimes that’s what we need to do. We just need to take a hold of ourselves, take a hold of our own hearts when they are wavering and flailing and discouraged and frustrated.

My husband is sweet about doing this for me. He’s a calming influence in my life. So when I’m kind of hyperventilating over something hard or something that wasn’t to my liking, he has a way. He listens; he cares, but he has a way of just speaking truth into my heart. I love that!

But you may not have a husband with you at all times, or ever. You may be single. You may be alone in your study or in your workplace or just in your own thoughts. We need to learn to counsel our own hearts according to God’s Truth. So we tell our heart: “Heart, He will not let your foot be moved. He who keeps you will not slumber.”

We’re telling ourselves the truth, and as we speak the truth to ourselves, we come to believe and to rest in that truth.

So, verses 3 and 4 and the first part of verse 5:

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 . . . Now, what is the word that you saw repeated throughout this whole second part of the psalm? This is a very obvious question—a question with an obvious answer. What’s the word that came up again and again and again? “He will keep you.” “The Lord is your keeper.”

Listen, in Scripture, when you’re studying God’s Word . . . People will sometimes say to me, “I wish I could get the things out of Scripture that you do.” I’m telling you, you can. I’ve never been to seminary. I’ve never studied Greek or Hebrew, but there are so many helpful tools available today. And the first one is to get into the Word. Open it up. Read it. Re-read it. Re-re-read it. Re-re-re-read it. Read it again and again and again. That’s meditation.

Memorize it. I’ve been mulling over Psalm 121 for weeks—as I’m falling asleep, when I wake up in the middle of the night, which is frequent at this season of my life. When I wake up in the morning, I’m quoting this psalm.

It’s actually been a little challenging for me because I first memorized it in the King James, and now I’m trying to do it in the ESV. So I keep getting confused. But that’s okay. The point isn’t to be able to quote it word perfect, recite it.

The point is to get it worked into your heart so that when you get pushed or shoved or something happens in your day, a circumstance you didn’t expect, what’s going to come out in your response is going to be what you’ve been filling your mind and your heart with: “The Lord is your keeper. The Lord is your helper. He will not let your foot be moved.”

So you meditate on that. One of the things you do is look for repeated words, for emphasis. That’s not hard to do in this psalm. The emphasis is very clear, and we’re going to talk about what it means that the Lord is our keeper.

But first, He is the Lord. That’s the word Jehovah, Yahweh. It’s the personal name for God. He’s the self-existent one. He doesn’t need my help or yours. He’s full and complete in Himself. And He’s the one who reveals Himself to us, makes Himself known to us and is a personal God.

The Lord Jehovah is your keeper. Some translations say He’s your protector. Some say He’s your preserver or your guardian.

There are several different English words that can be used to translate this Hebrew word that appears six times in verses 3 through 8, approximately 475 times in the Old Testament.

That word is translated “to keep, to keep safe, to preserve, to watch over, to have charge of, to guard, to keep watch over, to protect, to observe.”

Let me give you a couple of other examples where that word appears, and you get something of a broader sense of its meaning.

In Genesis chapter 2, it says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it”—to care for it, to watch over it, to tend it (v. 15). He was caring for it. He was watching what was going on in that garden, and he was taking care of it. He was keeping it.

And then we come to chapter 3. After Adam and Eve sinned, the Scripture says God “drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life” (v. 24). It kept. It protected that tree of life so that man—sinful man—could not get to the tree of life—until when? In Revelation chapter 22 we see the tree of life again where now the redeemed people are free to go back and partake of the tree of life.

And so the Lord is our Keeper, our Protector, our Preserver, our Guardian. And what does a keeper do? He keeps. So you see this in a noun form and a verb form in this passage. He keeps. He protects. He guards. He preserves. He watches over us.

The Lord—this is the bottom line of this psalm—the Lord is the “Guardian of the Galaxy”—and not just our galaxy, but of every galaxy.

I was curious as to how many galaxies there might be. I’m not much of an astronomer, so I googled that this morning. Astronomers estimate that there are at least 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe, and that’s just what we know about so far, or think we know about. And how much more there is beyond that, only God knows.

So God is the Guardian of all the galaxies. “He’s got the whole world—and all the worlds, and all the stars and all the planets and all the suns and the moons and the galaxies—in His hands.” He’s the Guardian, the Keeper.

And He’s not a passive Keeper of His people or of the worlds. He is actively guarding His people day in and day out, day and night, as we’ll see in this psalm.

Quoting again my friend Charles Spurgeon on this psalm, he said,

None are so safe as those whom God keeps; none so much in danger as the self-secure.

If we think we’re in control, we’re keeping . . . You think you’re keeping your children safe? Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to keep your children safe, but as a mom, don’t you realize that if you’re standing with them 24/7, which you can’t do, you still cannot protect your children from every possible circumstance and situation in life, especially when they get bigger and leave your home. You can’t do it.

But God is the Keeper. So when we think we’re self-secure, we are most vulnerable. But none is so safe as the one who recognizes that he is kept by God.

Now, we said, again, that these were Songs of Ascents that were sung by pilgrims en route to Jerusalem. There were dangers on the journey. They didn’t have modern roads. Roads were usually just paths that had been worn by travelers and animals.

Actually, the roads around here remind me of that a little bit. (laughter) After the winter time they get really hard to traverse.

But on these roads, they were just very rough, and it was easy to slip on those rocky roads.

And so, as we travel through the Christian life, we face dangers. We face distractions. We face roadblocks—countless things that could cause us to slip or trip or fall. It can be sins. It can be weaknesses. It can be attitudes. It can be relationships. But in all of this we have a divine Helper who keeps us from falling.

“He will not let your foot be moved.”

Psalm 73 talks about a time . . . the psalmist reflects on a time when his foot did almost slip. He said, “Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped” (vv. 1–2).

Why? Not because God fell down on the job but because he got his eyes off of God. He said, “For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (v. 3).

The psalmist, who in this case was Asaph, in Psalm 73, learned that when he stopped looking to the Lord, and when he started focusing on the “mountains and the hills,” the arrogant, the prosperity of the wicked, he came close to slipping.

But this passage says that as we focus on the Lord, as we trust Him as our Keeper, He will keep our foot from slipping.

Now, that doesn’t say that we won’t have problems, that we won’t have pain, that we won’t have suffering. This passage makes it clear that we will—and the rest of Scripture for sure makes it clear that we will have those problems, those rocks in the road, those obstructions, those hindrances, but our Keeper will be with us and will get us safely over that path and all the way to the house of God. He’ll get us there safely. We can trust that He will not let our foot be moved.

Now, verse 3 goes on to say, “He who keeps you will not slumber.”

And then verse 4 says, “He who keeps Israel.”

What’s the difference between those two phrases? One: “He who keeps you”—that’s very individual, very personal. Right? “He who keeps Israel”—that’s very corporate. That’s community. That’s collective.

God is Israel’s Keeper. He’s the covenant-keeping God. He made a covenant with His people, and the psalmist is saying, “God will keep His covenant with His people. He will be their Keeper.” But He’s also the Keeper—and I love this—of each individual in that community of faith. He will keep Israel. He’s the Keeper of Israel. And He will keep you, individual Jew headed to Jerusalem. What an assurance that is!

So, God doesn’t just deal with His people collectively. He does that. But He also deals with them personally and individually. And it’s the same with us, His redeemed people.

He is the Keeper of His Body, His Bride, the Church. He keeps the whole. But that also means that He keeps each part of the whole, each person in the whole. And that means that if you are a part of that redeemed community called the people of God, the Church, the Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ, if you’re a part of that, you can trust Him to keep you. I can trust Him to keep me.

We can claim this blessing of Psalm 121, “The Lord will keep you” because we are a part of that Body of believers that He protects and keeps and guards. Is that reassuring to your heart? We’re part of the whole. He keeps the whole. He will also keep us as individuals.

And then it says, “He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”

That just says that our Helper, our Keeper never sleeps. He never takes a nap. He never needs a nap. He is always awake.

This speaks of the constant care and watchfulness of God for His people. Day and night, every day, every night, He is always awake. He is always watchful. He never gets drowsy. He never falls asleep on the job.

Now, you compare that with somebody who was a security guard or body guard that might be hired to watch a dignitary or some celebrity. That body guard could fall asleep because every human keeper needs sleep.

And then you think of the false gods of the surrounding nations. The people thought that Baal might keep them from trouble, but in 1 Kings 18, remember that great showdown with Elijah and the prophets of Baal? “Elijah mocked them, saying, ‘Cry louder,” (v. 27) because the false god wasn’t doing anything. He wasn’t lighting that altar on fire. And he said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god [lowercase “g”]. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened” (v. 27).

These so-called “gods” had no supernatural power. They had to sleep . . . well, they didn’t even exist. But Elijah is saying, “If they do exist, they’re not supernatural.” Anything, anyone human less than God cannot stay awake on the job 24/7.

To slumber or to sleep signifies to be forgetful, to be negligent, to have a lack of care. And this passage says “God never sleeps.”

He never forgets. He never forgets your situation. The people of Israel would sometimes cry out to God and say, “Have You forgotten us?” This is a reminder that our Keeper is always watching us. He’s always actively caring for us. He knows what’s on the road. He knows what’s tripping us up. He knows what challenge we’re facing. He’s always awake, always keeping us.

Let me just say, parenthetically here, that one of the evidences—of which there are many—that we are not God is that we cannot live without sleeping. Only God can live without sleep. Sleep is not a luxury for us. It’s a necessity. It’s essential for our brains and our bodies to keep functioning. Our overall health depends on getting sleep.

Now some of you who left real early to come to this recording session today, and it’s getting the middle of the day here, and you’re feeling sleepy. I get that. That happens to me sometimes, like, when I’m studying and trying to stay awake late to come up with these programs, and I feel so tired. I’m going, “Lord, help me. Thank You that You never slumber or sleep, and I have to slumber sometimes.” We can’t stay awake indefinitely. And sometimes when we are awake, we’re so sleepy that we’re not alert, and we have a hard time functioning.

Mothers with little ones, babies, infants, preschoolers, you know what I’m talking about because it’s so 24/7 during some of those years when you feel like you never sleep. Well, you may feel like you never sleep, but you’re not functioning very well if you never sleep.

I read about a seventeen-year-old high school student named Randy who in 1965 set out to break the world record for going the longest time without sleeping. It was a science fair project. He stayed awake for 264 hours, which is about eleven days.

And during that experiment . . . Yes, some of you moms feel like you’ve done that. (laughter) During that experiment, he developed problems with his vision. He had speech and memory problems. He started to hallucinate. Again, some of you moms with little ones may relate. You say, “I’m like hallucinating. Did that really happen, or did I just dream that?”

Sleep is a gift that God gives to His human creatures. Psalm 127, also found in this collection of the Songs of Ascent, says, “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep” (v. 2).

Now, at some seasons of life, sleep comes harder than at other seasons. But sleep, when God gives it, is a gift.

I’m told that Alexander the Great told his soldiers: “I wake that you may sleep.” He said, “I’m watching. I’m awake so you can sleep.” But I’ll tell you what: Not even Alexander the Great could stay awake, keeping watch, all the time.

I’m so thankful that we have one greater than Alexander the Great who is always awake. So we can sleep, we can rest in peace and trust that the Lord is there meeting our needs.

Some of you may have heard of Miss Bertha Smith, who was well known in the Southern Baptist denomination. She was a missionary to China for many years. She lived to be just short of 100, and she was asked later in life to what she attributed her long life. She walked, I think it was, two or three miles every day into her old age.”

And then she said something like, “I never eat anything that tastes really great.” It was her diet. She just watched it. She just ate healthy stuff. “I didn’t eat the stuff that I really would have loved to have eaten. I ate the good stuff.”

But this is the one I love. She said, “At the end of the day, before I go to sleep, I always turn all my troubles over to the Lord.” She was acknowledging that the Lord is your Keeper. He doesn’t slumber. He doesn’t sleep. You don’t have to stay awake all night thinking about this. There’s One who’s going to be awake all night anyway, so let Him be the One who cares for that.

This whole passage reminds us that we are small. We are weak. We are vulnerable. We can get into trouble. But our God is always watching over us. He never slumbers. He never sleeps.

I’m so thankful, as we come into the New Testament, and we discover that He went even further than that. This great Jehovah God, our Watcher, our Keeper, He sent His Son to earth to take on human flesh, to become a small, weak, vulnerable infant, to grow up as a man, fully God but fully human, to have to sleep at night. The One who came from heaven who never slumbered or slept there, came to this earth; He had to sleep. He who was put to death on a hill called Calvary.

He experienced darkness, trouble, and pain. He experienced suffering, temptation. The forces of hell raging against Him, the wages of our sin, our evil. He bore the wrath of God that we deserved for our sin. And He cried out to this God, the great Keeper, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” For God turned His face away from His Son and sent Him to die.

Why? All so that we would never have to be separated from God. So we could forever realize that He is with us. He is our Keeper. We are weak, but He is strong. We cannot help many of the situations we find ourselves in, but He is our Helper. He will not let your foot be moved. He won’t let you stumble. He won’t let your foot slip.

We think of that passage in Jude, the last verses of Jude, the benediction,

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen (vv. 24–25).

Leslie: I’m so grateful that God promises to always be with me. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been reminding us of that promise found in Psalm 121.

I know today’s program is going to find a lot of women in some desperate needs, looking to someone to help them. This call to turn to the Lord first is going to be a big encouragement.

And the program is possible, in large part, due to the Revive Our Hearts Monthly Partner Team. Nancy, who exactly is on this team?

Nancy: Okay, let me answer that by going back to the beginning of today’s program when I talked about Guardians of the Galaxy. Now, I’ve not seen that movie, so I’m not endorsing it, but my understanding is it’s a group of very imperfect characters who realize that they can do a lot more good when they join together.

And that’s a little what the Monthly Partner team is like. It’s regular people like me and you who realize that God can do something amazing by drawing us to work together. Our Monthly Partners pray for Revive Our Hearts. They tell others about what they’re learning and about the available resources. And they support the ministry with at least $30 each month.

God takes the contributions of all these ordinary, imperfect people, and He uses them to help us call women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

When you join the team this month, we want to make you feel especially welcome. So you’ll get a package in the mail that includes two of my latest books, a set of Scripture memory cards, a CD set of conference messages, and a True Woman Manifesto booklet.

To see more details on your welcome package, along with all the normal benefits of becoming a Monthly Partner, visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959.

And, again, I want to just say a huge “thank you” to each member of our Monthly Partner team, as together we’re seeking God to do great things.

Leslie: Nancy says we are never immune to temptation this side of heaven. Tomorrow she’ll show us where to find protection against sin. I hope you’ll be back with us for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants you to know God is actively caring for you. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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