I lift my eyes up to the hills. From where does my help come from? 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.
I found a few mosquitoes outside the front door of my home last week. I am no entomologist, but it seemed too soon to greet those unwanted guests from their winter rest. I despise those little creatures. When I look at them I question the very purpose of their existence, and when they look at me all they see is a Thanksgiving feast. And perhaps the most disconcerting thought of all is this fact: when you see one mosquito, you are certain droves are soon to follow. Mosquitoes do not dwell in isolation—where there is one there is sure to be another and another and another.
Doesn’t it feel like bad news comes in droves, too? Some periods of life seem this way. For many in my area the last few months have felt this way. One initial piece of bad news opened the door for another and another and another. And though we might intellectualize it and remind ourselves that we know all of this is a result of the Fall—that with sin came the curse of death and all ugly things conjoined with it—if we are honest with ourselves it feels overwhelming and drains our bodies of energy, of perspective, and possibly even of hope.
Psalm 121 speaks to this sort of situation. It is a pilgrim psalm of hope. As the people/pilgrims traveled on their journey, often they had to pass through dangerous and remote desert regions and sometimes through unfriendly territory. There would be general unrest and fear of enemies, of starvation, of desolation, or at the least, of uncertainty. That being the case, the pilgrim bands would post sentries on the hills around their encampment when they rested for the night. The people needing comfort would look up to the hills toward the posted guards and be reassured that all was presently okay. Though their circumstances were dreary or uncertain, they were currently being guarded. But ultimately this wasn’t enough. They needed more than armed watchmen. They needed a sure defense to find true comfort and rest. So they recalled and rehearsed their true source of help—the God who never sleeps guarded their tents.
This psalm of hope prompts those in distress to do the following:
Remember to look up. When times grow dreary, our situation can quickly become the sole focus of our thoughts, our hearts, and our eyes. Resultantly, hopelessness saturates our lives. But if we remember to look up, we can find our Source of help. The direction of our eyes will help determine the direction of our hearts. Lift your eyes to the hills until your heart joins in tandem.
Rehearse your Source of help. I love the question posed in this psalm: “Where does my help come from?” Have you ever voiced that question amidst a desperate situation? It’s a great and necessary question. Our “help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” We need to remember to look up, but we also need to rehearse to whom we are looking. It is not a simple sentry or watchman, but the Creator God who made heaven and earth. None is greater than He.
Recall the sovereignty and attentiveness of our God. This psalm not only points to God’s power but also to the promise of His presence. He gives personal attention to His people. He is the powerful Helper who made all the heavens and all the earth, and He is the God of Israel who will not let your foot be moved. His attentiveness is unfailing for His people. I think we often feel that God is ignoring us—as if He might be asleep on the job. This verse promotes the opposite. He does not slumber. He is ceaselessly attentive. He is personal. He is “my help” according to the psalmist.
When in the middle of a string of difficult events, look up, rehearse your Source of help, and recall the sovereignty and attentiveness of our God. He who keeps you will not slumber. Lift up your eyes heavenward and leave them there until your heart joins and you find comfort and rest in the God who never sleeps.