Best of Daily Reflections: The Help We Really Need
I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth!
Growing up in the church, I always heard the opening verses of Psalm 121 as an invitation to gaze upon the mountains for a reminder of God’s presence. I was encouraged by the King James Version rendering of verse 1: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” I figured that the hills, being high, served as pointers to heaven.
That’s not how Psalm 121:1 would have been heard by Jews who were making their way up to Jerusalem, however. The mountains, for them, represented danger: treacherous trails, hidden bandits, and dangerous weather. When they lifted their eyes to the hills, the pilgrims would have wondered: “Where is my help? Who will help me get through the mountains safely?”
We find the answer to the question in the following verses. Help is not to be found from the mountains. Rather, it comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth, including the mountains (121:2). The Lord will not let you stumble on rocky paths (121:3). He will protect you from the elements (121:6). He will “keep you from all harm” and “watch over you” (121:7-8).
You and I may not look upon literal mountains with fear in our hearts. But we do see other kinds of dangers ahead and worry about our wellbeing. Some face the “mountains” of economic insecurity and job loss. Others gaze upon the “hills” of marital conflict or rebellious teenagers. Still others worry about physical risks and violence. The list of “mountains” goes on and on.
When we see dangers ahead, when we fret about our future, Psalm 121 offers solid reassurance. God is there to help us. He will guide us, protect us, guard us, and keep us safe. We are not promised a life without struggle and pain. But the Lord promises to be with us always, and this is all the help we need.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When you feel afraid or overwhelmed, what helps you to remember God’s presence? What challenges do you face right now that feel like scary mountains? Have you offered these to the Lord? How is God making his presence known to you in the midst of these “hills”?
PRAYER: O Lord, thank you for the reassurance of Psalm 121. Indeed, my help doesn’t come from mountains, or human strength, or hard work, or careful planning. My help comes from you, the maker of heaven and earth.
Thank you, Lord, for keeping me from stumbling as I walk along the path of life. Thank you for protecting and guiding me. Thank you for always being there, even when I cannot sense your presence.
By your Spirit, may I trust you more than I have. As challenges come, the “mountains” of my life, may I have confidence that you are there and that you are my help. Always.
All praise be to you, O God, my help! Amen.