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I will lift up my eyes to the mountains…
Psalms 121:1-2 Although the goals of the pilgrimage — Jerusalem and the Temple — are admirable, they are not a source of comfort to a troubled soul. Only God can provide that reassurance and peace!
Photo © 2023, Barbara Sande. Grand Teton National Park
“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.”
Psalms 121:1-2 NASB1995
Today marks the 600th straight day of Heaven On Wheels devotionals. I’m not telling you this to brag, but to marvel at how God has helped Barb and I to dig deeper into His Word by writing these daily posts. We’re both committed to this online ministry not by some hope that we’ll get thousands of readers — we’ve basically been at the same number for the last year or so — but because we find researching, writing, and sharing the daily devotionals and prayers to be a stimulating spiritual pursuit.
We had done years of daily Bible reading, mostly following Nicky Gumbel’s wonderful Bible In One Year Plan through the Bible app, and learned a lot. However, finding and studying the many commentaries and sermons written about each verse of the Bible has provided so much more understanding and context than merely reading it.
Thanks again for reading, and we would appreciate it if you would share the devotionals with friends or family every day. And thank You, God, for giving us Your Word to teach and inspire us!
And now back to our regularly scheduled programming…
I’ve always loved this psalm, which shows up in a favorite classic movie musical — The Sound of Music. The psalm is used near the ending of the movie by the Reverend Mother to Maria (Julie Andrews) as encouragement for the von Trapp family to escape Austria by hiking over the Alps.
Psalm 121 is a “Song of Ascents” sung by those on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, which lies on a plateau in the Judean Mountains at about 2,600 feet above sea level. Coming from one of the lower regions of the area, the walk to Jerusalem would be all uphill to the mountains (or hills, in some Bible translations) in the distance.
What would one be thinking about on such an arduous journey? There would probably be some concern about becoming ill or injured along the way, having enough food and water, or even being robbed. This commentary from Enduring Word notes that despite those concerns, the pilgrims would be under God’s care during the journey:
a. I will lift up my eyes to the hills: The singer of this psalm looked to the hills, likely the distant hills of Jerusalem as he travelled toward the city to fulfill his pilgrimage.
i. “The singer is still far from the appointed place of worship, lifting his eyes toward the distant mountains. He is not far from Jehovah, however. In Jehovah’s keeping, even though far from the center of external worship, the pilgrim realizes his safety.” (Morgan)
ii. The point is wonderful. The singer understood that the group didn’t need to arrive at Jerusalem before they came under God’s protective care. He would watch over them on the journey. God is just as present in the journey as in the destination.
The second verse further explains that although the goals of the pilgrimage — Jerusalem and the Temple — are admirable, they are not the source of comfort to a troubled soul. Only God can provide that reassurance and peace! From the same commentary:
b. My help comes from the LORD: The traveller looked to Jerusalem as his goal, yet his trust was not in that city itself. Help would come from the God who made heaven and earth. The Creator would be his helper.
i. “The sole source of ‘help’ comes from Yahweh, who, as Creator, has unlimited power.” (VanGemeren)
ii. “What he is telling us is that his gaze did not stop when he looked upward to the hills but that he looked beyond them to God, who made the mountains.” (Boice)
iii. “The City of God, and the Temple, are to be desired and delighted in; the mountains upon which they rest are to be remembered. But not from them does help come to distressed souls; it comes from Jehovah.” (Morgan)
As James Boice reminds in the commentary above, we need to look beyond earthly things when we’re looking for solace and peace. Only the God above who created heaven and earth can provide the help we need.
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Lord, I thank You that You are good, and that help in troubled times always comes from You alone. You are always there for me, and I know that at any time and in any situation, I can lift my eyes up to you. My help comes from You, the creator of heaven and earth. Guide me as I interact with the people You have sent my way today, and help me to respond in ways that reflect my trust in You alone. Give me wisdom and understanding to make it through every situation, no matter how difficult. I know that You are with me every moment of every day. In Jesus’s name I pray, AMEN.