Psalm 121 was originally a song sung by Jewish pilgrims as they walked towards Jerusalem each year for the celebration of their holy days.
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at 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 on and forevermore.
New International Version
This morning you read this psalm four times, savoring and meditating on it, with your head and heart engaged—listening for God’s direct address to you. This is a devotional reading of scripture that has a long history—it is called Lectio Divina, or Divine Reading. Behind this method is the conviction that God’s word is for his people always and at all times. In many ways this method is as much letting the passage read you, as you reading the passage.
Go through this exercise slowly, enjoying the spaciousness of this time.
Prepare: Take a moment to come fully into the present. Sit comfortably, alert and relaxed. Try, if you can to put away your thoughts of the day and assume a listening open posture.
1st Reading—Read the passage first to become familiar with its content and flow.
2nd Reading—Hear the word that is addressed to you.
- Read the passage this second time listening for a word or phrase that attracts you or catches your attention. Don’t analyze the passage for the key word, that is work that is done at another time. Just hang on to the word or phrase that jumps out at you.
- Repeat this word or phrase over to yourself softly for one about one minute.
3rd Reading—Ask how is my life touched by this word?
- Read the passage a third time. Listen to discover how your life is touched by this passage. Being touched could be a realization, a feeling, a sensory perception, a thought, etc.. “I am touched by... ,” “I hear...,” “I see...,” “I sense...,”. For example you may feel cold or warm. Let your imagination be engaged, as well as your heart and mind.
- During two minutes of silence consider the possibilities, or receive a sensory perception.
4th Reading—Ask, “Is there an invitation here for me?”
- Read the passage for the fourth time. Listen to discover a possible invitation relevant to today (or the next few days, or the year to come).
- Ponder it during several minutes of silence, in fact, do not leave this place until you feel you have heard all there is for you.
5th Reading—Pray for yourself that you will be able to respond and give thanks to God of the gift.
Conclude with these prayers and your own:
Almighty God, which dost see that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; keep thou us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended for all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evils thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Thomas Cranmer, 1552)
Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom you have made. We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.
A Prayer of Self-Dedication
Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto you; and then use us, we pray you, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Printable Version- Psalm 121 Reflection-PDF