From Where Does My Help Come?
Psalm 121, a favorite of mine, begins: “I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come? My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.” Click here to read the whole Psalm.
For a long time, I heard this as looking to the hills, where we find the Lord who will help us. That is certainly a comforting image, but I no longer think that’s what the author meant.
This Psalm was likely written by David, who spent much of his life as a soldier. For many years, David was hiding in the wilderness from Saul, the first King of Israel, who sought to kill him. When David finally became King, he was still very much a soldier King, often leading his armies into battle himself.
Imagine David, holed up in some valley, protected on three sides by mountains and cliffs, waiting and wondering what army awaited him just over that hill? I suspect that when David lifted his eyes “to the hills” what came to mind was not the Lord, but rather the very dangerous enemies that beset him. So he asked himself, “From where is my help to come?” All he can see is mountains hiding enemies!
Then he remembers, “My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.” There is nothing in the hills that can frighten us, when we remember that OUR helper is the one who made the hills!
This Psalm is not about trusting the Lord in a lovely, pastoral setting, but about trusting God in the midst of unseen and very real threats. David found confidence and strength for the battle (not deliverance from the battle), and we can, too! No matter the threats, seen or unseen!
This column appears in the March 8, 2020 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
If you are reading this at a different time, you may click here for the current eNews.