Summary: When your mountain seems too big to climb, look up and remember who gives you the hope you need.
Hope Looks Up
Psalm 121:1-8 A song of ascents. I lift up my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot slip-- he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The LORD watches over you-- the LORD is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm-- he will watch over your life; 8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Intro: It is difficult to know the exact background and intent of this Psalm. Some say that this and other songs of ascent in Psalm 120-134, may have been recited by worshipers when they ascended the road to Jerusalem to celebrate annual religious festivals. If indeed they were traveling that road, they could have encountered some treacherous areas. Beyond the sheer difficulty of climbing upward, they could have been facing the dangers of robbers and even wild animals. This could have been the same path the man took in the parable of the Good Samaritan as he traveled down from Jerusalem to Jericho. Perhaps Jesus even had this Psalm in mind when He told the parable of the Good Samaritan. Regardless, we know that help was needed for the Jews who wrote and recited Psalm 121.
-Some Bible scholars identify 2-3 speakers in this psalm. Speaker one talks in vv. 1-2, and speaker two responds to him with a prayer or blessing in v.3. Then speaker 3 gives words of assurance in vv. 4-8. What strikes me is that there is relationship and encouragement going on – as it should be among us. We do need to remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness and love toward us, but it really helps when friends come along-side us and offer words of encouragement and faith.
-So what can we glean from these words that were written a few thousand years ago? As some of the Jews were making their journey up the steep path to Jerusalem, perhaps one of them paused under the scorching sun and tilted his head back to look at what appeared to be a nearly vertical hillside towering above him. With head back he said, “I see these hills are rugged, steep and dangerous. Who’s going to help us get past them?” I’m glad he didn’t stop there, as so many people do. While gazing upward he went on, “My help comes from the LORD, the One who created all of this and is higher than the highest mountain.”
-Then his friend who was standing beside him put a hand on his shoulder and spoke this blessing over him: “May the Lord not allow your foot to slip! May your protector not sleep!”
-And yet another friend jumped in: “Look! Israel’s protector does not sleep or slumber! The Lord is your protector; the Lord is the shade at your right hand. The sun will not harm you by day or the moon by night. The Lord will protect you from all harm; he will protect your life. The Lord will protect you in all you do, now and forevermore.”
-Here is the main thought I’d like to talk about today:
Prop: When your mountain seems too big to climb, look up and remember who gives you the hope you need.
I. Hope believes there is a God who helps us
-It is not uncommon for people to ask this question, “Where does my help come from?” It may be more or less rhetorical in poetry, but it is a real question in life. “Where can I get some help? Who can possibly help me out of this impossible situation?”
-I have a theory that many people know where to turn when they need a miracle. However, too many of them wait until they need a miracle until they turn to Him. What is the cry that comes out of most people’s mouths when they lose control of their car? God! Jesus! Help! How many 911 prayers have been prayed by people who had very little association with God beforehand? And here is the grace of God – many of those prayers have been answered! In His mercy God responds to those who cry out to Him. This is not based on their worthiness. It is based on His love and grace.
-Now if you look at v.2, your Bible probably has LORD in all capital letters. Whenever you see LORD in caps in the OT, it means that God’s covenant name is used – the same covenant name He revealed to Moses. Since the Hebrew language originally had no written vowels the closest idea we have of the sacred name of God is the equivalent of YHWH, usually pronounced Yahweh. It appears to be a derivative of the state of being verb, am, with a first person singular subject. When Moses asked God who he should say had sent him, God said, “Tell Pharaoh I AM has sent you.”