I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip- he who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;

the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

– Psalm 121

We walk through a great deal in life. It is quite sobering. There is not a person here who has not walked through something that threatened to strip away your joy, your happiness, your peace, and your life as you know it. You have in all likelihood been through a situation that has broken you. Or, maybe you have gone through a time where there were so many unknowns where potentially destructive situations were the most likely outcome.

How we wade through these situations effectually determines our outlook on numerous other coming situations. But, what can be an even greater determining factor on our perspective is how we both reflect on past situations and look forward to the next tumultuous moment.

Psalm 121 itself is both meant to be reflective and preparatory. It is a Song of Ascent. The Songs of Ascent are what the faithful of God would sing as they approached the Temple of God found in the city of Jerusalem. There were numerous reasons to go to Jerusalem, numerous festival, or holidays, revolving around the Holy Temple, but the sacrificial system also revolved around the city. So, as the people of God sought the Lord they would ascend or approach Jerusalem

This ascension is imperative for us. This preparatory and reflective time is something slightly foreign to us. It is not often, from my experience, that many people wake up before church on Sunday and spend time singing songs with the intention of preparing their hearts and minds to see the greatness of God.

So, as an initial challenge from this scripture, as you prepare for our gathering of believers next week, prepare yourself with a song that focuses your perspective on the King of kings, your God, and His greatness.

There are not a whole lot of specifics in this Psalm, but what it is specific about is that you are to prepare your perspective as you prepare to come before the throne.

We want to be prepared as we approach the gathering of believers, and as we approach the throne in worship like the people of God in these Psalms, because this will aid us as we go through life. What is on the horizon for us is not the question. This Psalm reminds us that the correct perspective is the question of who is on the horizon.

My focus is on, and my help comes from, the maker.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. – Psalm 121:1-2

This first part of the verse is really interesting. Think of it this way, it is referring to one of three different scenarios in your life.

One possible scenario is referring to your place of worship. Imagine lifting your gaze to your place of worship fondly finding comfort in your time worshiping the Lord. Your prayer closet, your mountain top experience at camp, your fantastic memory of that real mountaintop where you were more amazed at who God is. It is that place of remembering the Lord. 

For the Israelites it was the Temple, the city of Jerusalem also called Zion, the place in which God dwelt on earth and that they knew was where God dwelt.

When you look at your next couple months, what are some obstacles you will face. Is there opportunity for someone to harm you? For our college students you are going back to a great deal of unknowns with professors and classmates. Where will your help come from?

For those in the work force sometimes there can people who want what you have, your job, your status, your time (all of your time). Your resources and your security are on the line.

Because the second possible scenario about the mountain is less appealing. As the person in the Psalm prepares for the ascent to Jerusalem they realize that the mountainous path are filled with hills and potential areas primed for an ambush and this causes the singer to ask, “Where does my help come from?” The mountain is not my friend, but the friend of robbers and thieves. Where does my salvation come from as I go down this dangerous path?

Or maybe it is referring to where you put your trust and your hopes. Does bank account sway your perspective of God? This is really an dangerous question. Where does your sense of peace and hope for the future come from? Does the market of corn, beans, and at this time we probably should not mention cattle and hogs sway your hope and peace? Does the economic status of life determine your ability to worship or can it be what you worship?

The third potential reference for the mountain in the Israel is actually centered in worship, the question was what or who they were worshiping. The Israelites were plagued with idol worship. The primary placement of a temple for worshiping idols was on a high place a mountain. Hence the Israelites look to the mountains for their help.

Whatever the answer is to the mountain the inevitable question we must ask as we look at our lives is whether or not we are looking to something other than the Lord for our hope or trusting in something other than the God who created everything.

This psalm is so beautiful because its sole purpose is to surround us with a greater comfort and perception of who God is. Our God is greater. Our God made everything! Our God will be our help in our present and future circumstance. There is no need to fear, no need to look somewhere else, and there is no direction we need to look than to Him!

The Lord is always ready.

He will not let your foot slip- he who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. – Psalm 121:3-4

The God who created everything is always present. He does not lose sight of you. He does not sleep. God does not get distracted from your present circumstances. There is not a moment of your life where He was not beside you. There is not a situation, no matter the traumatic or painful situation, where He was not there.

He not only created the universe that you live in, He also is constant in His awareness of it, and of you. Imagine a guard watching over what is so precious sleeping through the most dangerous moments in life. How tragic would it be for the God of the universe to declare you are precious, but to let your foot slip when He could prevent it.

The English Standard Version translates the Hebrew here, “He will not let your foot be moved.” God is described as a great foundation. God is a fortress where we can run. God is solid and not only that He is there to make sure that your feet are firmly planted and strengthened to endure all that life hurls your way.

You were not simply created and sent off. Rather the God of the universe made you and stays with you throughout your life. When you look to Him as your helper you can know that your feet will not slip, when you rely on Him you can know that He is faithful to stand by you.

The Lord is your protection.

The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. – Psalm 121:5-6

Make this real. Stop for a moment. Think to yourself, what is the Lord protecting you from? What has He protected you from or been there to keep you safe from? What have you come through stronger, happier, and more equipped for life from.

He is always there. He has been in your corner, He been your strength, your shelter through it all.

This means that you can rely on Him. It will be tempting, like it was for so many throughout God’s Word, to rely on what you can control for protection. For king Ahaz of Judah he relied on a strong nation to protect him from others threatening his life and country. Instead of shade and protection Ahaz gained oppression and darkness.

For King David, you know the man after God’s own heart who slayed Goliath because he trusted the Lord, he took a census of his nations army to find protection and comfort in his strength. Rather than protection from the Lord David sought to protect himself as well as God’s people and paid a great cost. He had forgotten in the midst of the normalcy of life that God is the protector, we need not fear.

Maybe you have rested your hopes in your hard work like I have at times, only to find it is not enough. Maybe you have trusted, like I have, in your longevity of faithfulness to believe that will save you. Maybe you have trusted in the people in your life to be your protection.

The Lord is your protection by day or by night. He is your God. He is your protection both from what you see and from what you cannot see. Even if you are the most perceptive person there will be area is your life that you could not account for, things that will happen that you could not prepare for and He is God through it all.  He is your God and protector from all areas of life.

The Lord has been and always will be watching over you!

The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;

the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. – Psalm 121:7-8

Simply put, I you trust God with eternity you can trust Him with today. Think about that simple yet fantastic statement. If you trust God to care for you, prepare an eternal place for you, and wow you for eternity with His greatness why is it so hard to trust the Lord with today?

That is our great hope, forevermore. We have a God who is not only with us today, but a God who is with us to protect us forevermore! What is most fantastic about this portion of the psalm to me is the minutia of my coming and going. When I get up or down.

God is with me. God sees me. God is actively watching the smallest parts of my life in ways you and I cannot imagine. He sees you. He truly and magnificently sees you. Where you are, what is going on in your life big and small is watched intently by the God who has an entire universe held together by His words.

Yet, amidst the spender of the stars at night, the roar of the wind, the peddles of a flower, and the rushing of the mighty Platt River (inside joke, the Platt River in central Nebraska is so dry jeeps and trucks drive on it for fun like a boat would in a real river) God sees you!

You in particular, us as a community, and each person you so deeply care for are not after-thought or a part of His peripheral vision. You are known. You are protected and cared for, not simply cared about.

How have you looked to and trusted in the Lord?

       This has to be tangible in your life. Putting your hope soli in the Lord is not a small matter, nor should this be perceived as vain hope for your own riches and glory. What is most prominent in this verse is the Lord.

“Friendship with Jesus is costly. Faith alone saves, but saving faith is never alone. It is always accompanied by great sacrifices for Christ’s sake.”[1] – Richard Wurmbrand

There is a fantastic difficult moment in history when a lady named Vera feared her own death as she was sent to a Siberian Labor Camp. Yet, she shared her faith and was punished. She walked around barefoot for hours on the ice. She was left without their watery broth of a meal for not meeting her work quota. One fateful night she went out to pray alone, and she had unknowingly went into an area of the camp where she would be shot on sight. A little while into her prayer time a guard yelled to her about her family and faith. Why? He yelled because his very healthy and very able arm would not raise the gun to shoot her. And for that guard, he could only presume that her God saved her.[2]

What ways have you set your hope, your trust, your life in the hands of the God of the universe. This God that we worship on Sundays that we cry out to in desperation and shout for joy in gratitude for what He has done while celebrating His greatness is without need and in that fullness He is more than able to fulfill our needs.     

“Oh God, accept all my suffering, my tiredness, my humiliations, my nostalgia, my being hungry, my suffering of cold, all the bitterness accumulated in my soul. Dear Lord, have pity on those who persecute and torture us day and night. Grant them, too, the divine grace of knowing the sweetness and happiness of your love.”[3] – From a Christian Woman in the Siberian Labor Camp, Vorkuta.

As we prepare each Sunday, each day we must look not to hills, not to the nostalgic moment or place, rather we must look to the one who is greater than it all. Let us not simply look at today or tomorrow as another day. Let us not see another Sunday or another day to simply just be. We have something greater we have a God who far surpasses all that we have or could ever want.

We have a God who does not grow weary, a God who never stumbles or slumbers. There have been no mistakes or moments of weakness in His record. Instead we see this God, our God, display that in every situation in every moment, in every dark place, in every broken and lost moment, year, or decade that He is there to accomplish a greater thing than we can see in the moment. Sometimes He does something greater than we can even look back and see.

So, how do you reflect on who He is every day? Do you spend time learning more about who He is by reading His Word, the Holy Bible. This is something He gave you so that you can know Him and not simply make up who you want Him to be, which is an idol.

Do you then spend time calling out to Him? Spend time in prayer, be broken on your knees at His greatness, be humbled by the refreshing truth that the God upon the fantastic throne over creation also welcomes you as a son and daughter, but also as a friend.

And, in knowing and spending time with Him, take to worship Him. If Sunday is the only moment you take to learn about, spend time praying to, and especially worship you should ask yourself if you truly know the spectacular God who spoke the world into creation. Worshiping the God who not only made the world and you, He being greater than all of creation came into His creation to be tortured, attacked, disregarded, and brutally shamed as He was murdered in order that we could know Him more.

Is this a God, a friend, a brother, a father, and a savior that occupies such a small portion of who you are? It is marvelous to see so many of you, so many in our community, and so many who have come from this church know that God is worth more than a Sunday.

He watches over you through it all. Look to Him for help and for comfort know that He has never and will never let you go.

And so, as you go throughout your days look at where your help comes from, or more acutely where do you look to for help?

 

[1] Voice of the Martyrs, Extreme Devotion (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2001) 308.

[2] Voice of the Martyrs, Extreme Devotion (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2001) 303.

[3] Voice of the Martyrs, Extreme Devotion (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2001) 336.