The high today is 111. I know that for some it is a walk in the park. I was talking to someone recently that lives in Arizona, and he said it was 120 there. Either way, it is miserable in the sun and any rational person would do everything he could to be in the shade or in an air-conditioned room. Seems logical. If I were to tell you that I knew someone who loved being out in the heat and they would rather be out in the blazing, melting sun than in the shade, you probably would say that they had heat stroke on the brain.
Many times in our spiritual lives we choose to be out in the heat rather than the in shade. Are you standing in the hot sun?
I was reading in my Quiet Time recently in Psalm 121. In verse 5, “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.” I’ve been to Israel. I was in the area of En Gedi where David lived in the wilderness fleeing from King Saul. Let’s just say it is as hot there as it is here. I can just picture David looking for a place of cool shade from the heat, a place of refuge where he can rest. We automatically and urgently seek out shade on a hot day. Some days are going to be hot and severe and the natural inclination is to seek out a place of protection.
David saw the Lord as that shelter from the heat. It’s just a picture, but it is one that resonates with me with our present weather conditions. We know intellectually that in the midst of difficulty (the heat of the sun) that seems uncomfortable and unbearable, that God is there and will help us. But the problem that we can have is that, though we know our Bible well and that He is a shade, in our everyday life we don’t seek out that shade and rest in it.
So how is it that the Lord is our shade? How is it that “the sun will not strike you by day?” I think that David gives us the answers in this song.
The first way that we find shade from Psalm 121 is to choose our focus. We need to look away from ourselves and remember where our help comes from. It is easy to fall into the trap of believing that there is something that I need to do to alleviate this burning heat. We believe there is some key, some trick, or some button that needs to be pressed in order to turn the sun off. Unfortunately, like the heat we are experiencing now, there is little that we can do to avoid it. We can find ourselves believing that we are the key to fixing the problem that is facing us. We adopt a humanistic mindset that we are the answer and spend our time trying to determine what it is that we should be doing-trying to cool down the sun.
We need to take our eyes off of our abilities, and ourselves and put them on the real Helper and Shade. He made heaven and earth. And if He had the ability to make heaven and earth, He certainly has your situation in His hands. He can handle it better than you. Notice how David turns his focus on the Lord and what He will do. He doesn’t cool the sun; he merely provides shade from it. We can weary ourselves trying to do what we often are powerless to do. We only find shade when He is our Helper and we hear Him say, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Only when we begin to step out of the sun and into His presence is there a place of rest from the weariness. We should focus, not on the frustrations and disappoints of life, but turn our attention to the glorious Creator and sustainer. When we become enamored with Him, the heat begins to dissipate.
The second concept is that of faith. Notice the word “keep” repeated in the Psalm. Over and over David uses that word to describe what the Lord will do for him: “He who keeps you will not slumber.” (verse 3) “He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (verse 4) “The Lord is your keeper;” (verse 5) “The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.” (verse 7) “The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in . . .” (verse 8) It is a word that means, “to keep watch over, protect, preserve.” David has God’s keeping on his mind. In every aspect of his life, there is the perspective that God is in it and watching over him.
As you turn your eyes to Him, there is shade and rest. Why? Because with that change of focus comes the faith in knowing that He will keep you. He will watch over you and preserve you. He will take care of you. So rest in the shade. What a wonderful truth. Our weariness comes from losing sight of our Father and Shepherd and losing confidence that He is all that David writes in this psalm. The truth is that we are weary from the sun because we fail to remember that there is a God that watches over us as a father watches over his son and as a shepherd watches over his sheep. It reminds me of David writing Psalm 23 and his understanding of God’s care over him as that Shepherd.
Feeling a little weary? Step out of the sun into the coolness of God’s care for you. Turn your focus to your Helper and remember that He will keep you. The problems are still out there (like the sun is) but in His presence we can find a place of refreshment from that heat.