Will God Always Protect Us from Harm?
7 The LORD will protect you from all harm;
he will protect your life.
8 The LORD will protect your coming and going
both now and forever. (Psalm 121:7-8)
It’s a beautiful promise! But… some might wonder whether we are supposed to take this promise seriously…. I mean, can we expect to avoid all harm and pain in this life because we are God’s people? Is that what this verse is promising? We only need to take a look at our social media feeds to see that our world is full of pain and anger, and Christians aren’t excluded from it. In fact, Open Doors Australia estimates that ‘in the top 50 countries alone, 260 million Christians face intimidation, prison, or even death for their faith in Jesus’. So, I guess the question is, does this contradict Psalm 121:7-8?
Well, this certainly is a confident Psalm, but it’s only one Psalm in a whole collection of Psalms! The majority of Psalms are actually ‘laments’, which say things like:
6 I am weary from my groaning;
with my tears I dampen my bed
and drench my couch every night. (Psalm 6:6)
Psalm 88 ends very low, it says ‘You have distanced loved one and neighbour from me; darkness is my only friend’. My point in saying all of this is that Psalm 121 doesn’t stand alone. It stands within a whole corpus of Psalms. And even other Scriptures tell us that we will have suffering in this world (John 16:33). So, the short answer is that we can’t expect God to protect us from all pain. We don’t know whether our jobs will remain safe or our families will be shielded from every difficulty that characterises our fallen world. Difficulty is a fact of life in a world under the curse of sin. BUT, we can thank God that this isn’t the end of the story for those who trust in Jesus.
Psalm 121:7-8 tells us two things. First, this Psalm wants us to see God as our safe place. He will never be overcome and he is not surprised by anything in this world. He wants us to find our comfort, our strength, our confidence in him. Psalm 121 is an invitation for us to run to God with our troubles – to run into his safe, secure, loving arms. Secondly, as Christians we know that God will actually protect our lives from ultimate, irrecoverable harm because Jesus has already gone through it for us! Jesus overcame every threat that could have destroyed us. So, he alone is able to say, ‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV). This is where our confidence lies – not that we can be sure we won’t experience pain, but that Jesus will bring us safely through it because he dealt with our ultimate troubles. So, as you read promises like those found in Psalm 121, be reminded that our ‘forever’ really is safe in Jesus, even if our ‘now’ is full of difficulties and troubles. Go to him.
Tucker Jr., W. D. “Psalms 1: Book Of.” of Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings. Edited by T. Longman III and P. Enns. Downers Grove: InterVarsity. 2008.
 ‘The most frequent type of psalm is the individual lament, with nearly one-third of the psalms falling into this category.’ Tucker Jr., “Psalms 1: Book Of,” Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings: 581.