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The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil

The LORD thy Protector

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Adonai Yishmarkha Mikol Ra...

by John J. Parsons

Psalm 121:7 (BHS)

The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil:
he shall preserve thy soul. (Psalm 121:7)

Psalm 121:7 (BHS)

The Hebrew root used in the verb "will guard you" is shamar (SHAMAR), which first appears in the Bible in Gen 2:15 where Adam was instructed to dress and "keep" the garden.  It is also used in Gen 17:9 where God instructs Abraham to "keep" His covenant.  In fact, shamar is used over 400 times in the Tanakh, and the basic idea of the root is to "exercise great care over," to "watch closely," to "guard", to "take heed," and to "tend" (as a flock).

The Hebrew word for "evil" in this passage is ra' (RA), a general term that may denote physical harm or personal distress, but more often refers to the immoral or unethical actions performed by others.

In this great Psalm, Adonai, the Maker of heaven and earth, is said to be the One who shall preserve (shamar) the soul (nephesh) of the one looking to Him for help (v.2). He will watch over (shamar) that soul and will not slumber (v3); he will watch over (shamar) Israel and will not sleep (v.4); He is that soul's keeper (shamar) (v.5) and will both preserve (shamar) that one from evil and guard (shamar) its soul (v.7); He will guard (shamar) that one's coming and going forever (v.8).

In response to God's careful protection of our lives, we are instructed to likewise guard our hearts and keep them engaged with the LORD: "Keep (shamar) thy heart will all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." (Prov. 4:23).


Psalm 121:7 Transliteration

Adonai yismorkha mikol ra, yishmor et nafshekha

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