Summary: This sermon is part of a series on the Psalms of Assent. The focus of this sermon is assurance that we are not alone on our spiritual journey; that in spite of our sufferings the "maker of heaven and earth " walks beside us.
Good morning. We are continuing this series called The Psalms of Ascents. They are short songs for long journeys. The Psalms of Ascents were believed to be travel songs. They were songs that would be sung by the Jewish pilgrims as they ascended up the mountain towards Jerusalem and towards the temple for the various festivals of the year like Passover, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles. As I mentioned last week, not only do some people see the Psalms of Ascents as travel songs, but they see them collectively as a metaphor for the spiritual life for our personal ascent up to God. Consequently, as people are learning to live everyday life like Jesus, these psalms can become a helpful aid for us on our journey towards Christ-likeness. As I mentioned last week, there are 15 Psalms of Ascents, but we are probably going to go through five or six of them. Last week, we looked at Psalm 120, which was really a psalm of distress. A psalm of crying out to God. Today, we are going to look at a little bit more comfortable-type psalm. Psalm 121. It does provide a lot of comfort. It is very poetic. It is just a nice psalm. As I mentioned before, it is a very good psalm to memorize. I thought we would read it together. It is only eight verses. We will read slowly and go through it together. (Scripture read here.)
A very nice psalm. A very poetic psalm. A psalm that I think most of us can really relate to it especially as Christians. Personally speaking, ever since becoming a Christian, I really have felt no sense of harm, no sense of danger, no fear. I have really had no harm come into my life. I haven’t even had so much as a cold or a fever since becoming a Christian. Debbie and I can attest to the fact that we have had no major illnesses. We have experienced no car accidents. We have had no unexpected bills come in the mail. No unexpected taxes due. We have had no parenting challenges or marital challenges at all. In fact, I would say we are pretty much immune from all the bad things that happen to the non-Christians. As most of you Christians can attest, once you become a Christian, life is nothing but a bowl of cherries. NOT! If life is a bowl of cherries, then why am I living in the pits so much? All kidding aside, we sometimes think that when we become a Christian all of a sudden life is going to be easy. The reality is it is not because we share a fallen, broken world with the non-believers. When we read this psalm, you can’t help but think it is nice, but is it realistic? Is this psalm just trying to fabricate some sort of poetic psalm that really has no truth to it? Is it that or is it the fact that just maybe the psalmist and indeed God have a different view of what it means to protect us and to preserve us from harm? Hopefully, as we get through this short psalm, we will be able to begin to come to some sort of conclusion regarding that.
As I already mentioned, the psalm begins with “I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?” At this point, it is helpful to imagine yourself as a traveler in the fourth century B.C. traveling through the desert terrain of Palestine on your way to the temple in Jerusalem that slowly increases in elevation. When you are walking down the road where there are roads there is obviously going to be some rugged terrain. At some point, the person is going to lift his or her eyes up and see the hills and possibly mountains in the distance. We don’t know exactly what that person would be thinking and what is going through his or her mind, but we can speculate that when the person sees the hills or mountains in front of them, maybe they are thinking I am really not in shape for this journey. Kind of like me when I am trying to walk home all the way up the hill. I say I am not in shape for this. They could be thinking this looks like a physical test that I am not ready for. Or possibly, they are looking at the hills and saying I have heard there are bandits and robbers out there. I have heard there are some wild animals out there and maybe I should take a shortcut. It reminds me of a story from when I was growing up. I was about 10 years old. I was going up to the store and I had my bike. Down the road, I saw this big, mean dog coming towards me so I did what any other kid would do. I decided to run across the street to take a shortcut. I stepped off the curb and got hit by a car. Pretty much wiped out. Obviously, I am okay. The good news is I got a brand new bike out of the deal. For some reason it reminded of this story.