Summary: Psalms 121


The famous English deist, Anthony Collins of the 17th century, met a plain countryman one day while out walking. He asked him where he was going. “To church, sir.” “What are you going to do there?” “Worship God.” “Is your God a great or a little God?” “He is both, sir.” “How can He be both?” “He is so great, sir, that the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him; and so little that He can dwell in my heart.” The unbeliever Collins later declared that this simple answer from the countryman had more effect upon his mind than all the volumes which learned doctors had written against him. T (from Illustrations of Bible Truths # 918)

Ps 121 is the second song of a series of songs called Song of Ascents that begin in the last chapter, Psalms 120. There are 15 such songs from Psalms 120-134. They are also variously called Gradual Psalms, Songs of Degrees, Songs of Steps or Pilgrim Songs. Four of them (Ps 122, 124, 131 and 133) are linked in their ascriptions to David, and one (127) to Solomon. Many scholars believe these psalms were sung by the worshippers as they ascended the road to Jerusalem to attend the three pilgrim festivals (Deuteronomy 16:16) or were songs of the priests as they ascended the fifteen steps to minister at the Temple in Jerusalem. They are characterized by brevity – only Psalm 132 has more than ten verses, by a key-word, by repetition. More than half of them are cheerful, and all of them hopeful. (Wikipedia)

Some suggested David was the author of Psalm 121, others attributed it to an unknown traveler, a soldier and mariner (Robert Hawker), or a captive Levite (Calmet).

Who do you turn to or talk to when you are down or defeated? What is the cause of troubles in your life? How does the Lord help His people or children when they are troubled? Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen

The Lord is Your Support: None is As Superior (vv 1-2)

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)

A Google image says, “Be strong enough to stand alone, to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask it.”

Do you ask for help regularly, reasonably, rarely, reluctantly or regrettably? Here are some reasons:

“I don’t ask for help because....

People always seem to let me down.

People don’t completely understand me

I seem like I’m weak or stupid. (Other feelings: fear, embarrassed, rejected, judged, less capable, shame)

It’s just easier for me to do something than to explain it to someone else.

I’m too proud to admit I don’t know.

I can do it better or faster.

I don’t want to bother or burden others

I’m afraid no one will help me

I am too shy

I am the leader

A song of ascent is a song that goes up, mounts up or rises up, to the temple steps or mountain range. It can be called a mountain song, hill song or cliff song. No matter what, it is an uphill attempt to uplift, uphold and upbuild the person or pilgrim. The early KJV begins with the remarkable interrogative form in the footnote: “Shall I lift up mine eyes to the hills? Whence should my help come?” The singer is weighed down by difficulties, disappointments and doubts. It is for the weary, the worried and the weak.

The verb “lift up” (nasa) has been translated in the newer NASB translation with words associated with “lift” 131x, with “carry” 119x, with “bear” 85x, with “bring” 23x, with “raise” 18x, with “forgive” 14x, with “borne” 14x (as in “airborne”), and with “exalt” 13x. The action is aimed upward, skyward, northward, heavenward, airward, not backward, downward, inward, southward or wayward. It implies the vertical or upper transfer, transport and transformation of our troubles.

In the Song of Ascents (Ps 120-134) the Hebrew phrase “mine eyes” (v 1) make a glaring impression. In the somewhat similar Psalms 123 the psalmist lifted up “mine eyes” to Him who dwells in heavens, replacing “mountains” with “heavens.” More than just the place, the motif of “mine eyes” reflects the attitude of the person (Ps 131:1, “Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty”) and his perseverance (Ps 132:4, “I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids”). Eyes refer to one’s sight, outlook, vision, viewpoint or focus. The contrast is to be downhearted, downfallen or downturn.

The Old City of Jerusalem from about 3800 feet above sea level. The city itself is about 2400 to 2500 feet above (Mediterranean) sea level.

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