Monday, May 2
Reader: “I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there?”
Response: “My help comes from the Lord.”
Scripture: Psalm 121
I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!
He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.
The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.
Worship at “high places” in the First Testament was roundly condemned as it was often a trap for the Israelites. Sometimes these places were called hilltop shrines. Pagan worship centered around such locations with the belief that the worshiper was closer to the gods because of the elevation of the site. The Israelites were repeatedly drawn to adopt this form of worship and many times embrace the pagan rituals. (cf. Deut 12:2)
So the question this psalm raises could be viewed in a couple ways. If we read it as a rhetorical question, then our answer would be negative. In other words, no, my help in living my life does not come from mountain top gods. They are useless.
A second way to look at the opening question is to view or understand the reference to the mountain as a symbol of God’s strength. (Psalm 95:4) In this case the question is answered in the following sentence. “Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Afterall, he is the one who made the mountain!
At this point it may be worth noting the prominence mountains played in Scripture as a location of God speaking to his people. (This might be an interesting topic for you to pursue!) Here are some examples: God made a covenant with Noah on Mt. Ararat; the Tower of Babel was the people’s attempt to build their own mountain to bring glory to themselves; God tested Abraham’s faith in his attempted sacrifice of Isaac on Mt. Moriah; Moses received the Law and interacted with God several times on Mt. Sinai and viewed the promised land from Mt. Nebo while being reminded of his disobedience to the Lord; Israelites announcing their allegiance to God by pronouncing God’s blessings and cursings from Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim; Solomon building the Temple on Mt. Moriah; Elijah challenging the priests of Baal of Mt. Carmel; Elijah talking with the Lord on Mt. Horeb (Sinai); the devil taking Jesus to the top of a “very high mountain” to tempt him with the kingdoms of the world; Jesus often going up to the mountains to pray to his Father; the Sermon on the Mount (plain); the Transfiguration; Jesus descending the Mount of Olives on Palm Sunday and leaving earth from there at his Ascension. Observe what God did in each of these situations. What is the thread?
The psalmist goes on to cite the Creator Lord’s care of his children. The one who made them is certainly able to watch and protect them for he is present with them. The sun and moon were regarded as deities but God is Lord over the sun and moon. They too praise him. (Psalm 148:3) The bottom line is that the Lord watches over you today and, in fact, for all eternity. Rest in his care and take a trip to the mountains!
Music: “Psalm 121” Tower of David sung in Hebrew with English subtitles
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5UgI6SWVbQ 3:43 Wonderful
“My Help” Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir (Psalm 121)
Prayer:O Lord Jesus Christ, whom men saw on the mountain top transfigured with the splendor of God; Lord Christ, whom they saw at thy ascension girt about with the light of heaven, thy pierced hands stretched out in blessing over the world: open our eyes to see thee as thou art, and help us so to know thee that we may love thee and the world which thou didst come to save. Lord Jesus, hidden from our sight, yet really present to our faith, we acknowledge you to be Savior of the world and King of the new creation. Above our weakness and despair, above our strife and disunity, above our sin and rebellion, above the impersonal forces which threaten to crush us, you rule. Your life reigns supreme and can bring hope and peace and pardon and freedom. In our need of these gifts, we look to you. Lord Jesus Christ, lifted high over all, we worship and adore you. Amen. ―from Prayers for Sunday Services, p.99