The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. - Psalm 121:5
There are so many ideas and schools of thought about the phrase "shade upon thy right hand," but I'll do my best to keep this clear and concise, focusing on the main points. First, let's discuss the word "shade."
Despite the fact that it's the first week of November, I sought the shade this morning. After running my weekly errands, I decided to take Barnabas for a stroll before embarking on my own prayer walk. By the time I returned home with him, I was sweating like crazy. Before I went on for my own walk, I changed into a short-sleeved shirt. Still, when it came time for me to decide which route to take, I opted for the one with more shade. Despite the cooler clothes, the sun was sweltering, and it felt like mid-summer to me.
A shade is a shelter. Protection from the elements, particularly harsh elements that could do us harm. In fact, the next verse in Psalm 121 explains the necessity of shade.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
Consider where this passage was written. I've never had the privilege of visiting Israel, but I know enough about it to know the sun's rays can become so intense during the day as to burn you in a matter of minutes while the very same night, the coolness of the evening can cause harm. This passage reminds us that with God as our shade (both figuratively and literally), neither the sun nor moon will harm us. In this respect, God as our shade is similar to Him as our refuge. The term implies safety.
As for the phrase "right hand," there are two points to discuss. First off, the right hand in the Bible signifies power and favor (with all due respect to you "lefties" out there). Jesus sits at the Father's right hand. What an intriguing thought that He also places Himself on our right hand.
Not only that, but the right hand is also the hand with which one would yield a weapon, meaning the shield is held by the left hand. This leaves the right hand virtually unprotected, but once again, we see that God has all the bases covered, so to speak. We know He is our shield, but He is also the shelter of our right hand. He gives us the power with which to fight on the offensive while acting as our defense as well, shielding us from all sides.
The word "shade" can also be translated as "shadow." What we can glean from this is that God is always as close as our own shadow. No matter where we go or what we face, He's there. At our right hand. Closer than we can imagine. And He never leaves us.
He's with me. He's protecting me. He's empowering me. What more could I need?