Summary: Who do you call on for help? Ghostbusters? The cavalry? Call on the one who can really help. God!
Who Ya Gonna Call?
I know many of you like to travel and many of you travel by car. A trip by car takes longer than a trip by airplane so you have a lot more time to think, visit, sightsee, imagine, and sing. When you travel with children, you have to keep them from getting bored. And when you travel on long trips you may do a lot of singing as one way of keeping them entertained.
I can understand that because I often sing in the car on trips to keep myself entertained, too. There’s just something about singing being conducive to a journey, whether it be by car or a long walk. One thing about kids is they often like to sing the same songs over and over and over again. I know right now Wendy is thinking, “It’s not just little kids that like to sing (or listen) to the same songs over and over.” That’s true, because I’ll pop a CD in and listen to it for a week or two (or three) before changing to another. So I can relate to the Israelites in that respect.
You see, this is a Psalm that Israelites would often sing, probably over and over, while making their yearly pilgrimage to worship in the temple in Jerusalem. For many, this was a long trip. But it was also a treacherous trip. The miles were long and the traveler was vulnerable.
They had no interstate on which to travel or a motor club to call on their cell phones if they were in trouble. They couldn’t charter a bus or a jet to quickly take them to where they were going. They had reason to fear. They wanted to feel the same safety and protection that we still want today.
So, they would sing this song. Psalm 121 was written to remind God’s people of how He protects them in times in danger. We see this in the first two verses, which serve, as an introduction. Will I lift up my eyes to the hills, one asks, where the pagan temples could be seen upon the mountaintops? Where does my help come from? The answer is our theme this morning: “My help comes from the Lord”.
When trouble comes: We must look to the Lord. Our God is vigilant. Our life is in his hands. We must look to the Lord: “I lift up my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth”
Do you remember watching those old westerns and how hostile Indians would sometimes surround the wagon train. And it seemed as if all hope was gone for the wagon train. Then they would look off to the distant hills and see a dust cloud rising in the sky and they knew then that there was help on the way.
They knew from the distant dust cloud that the cavalry was on their way to rescue them. Soon they could see the soldiers approaching with their swords drawn and they could hear the sound of the bugler’s trumpet as the soldiers headed for the wagon train.
Help was on the way. The cavalry came to their rescue.
The word for “help” also signifies protection. God is being pictured as our guardian. The dangers before us may not be the same as the ones they faced, but our unchanging God still protects us from danger. The writer of Psalm 121 helps us to understand that when trouble comes we must not look to anything or anyone for ultimate protection, except God!
For the traveler going to worship in Jerusalem, there were many dangers. One of those dangers was that of falling. When verse three says, “He will not allow your foot to be moved,” that verb often translates “slip”. A person could fall and sprain an ankle, or break a leg or hip. When was the last time you tried to walk a hundred miles through mountainous territory on a broken ankle? Now for us, this seems petty, but for them, it was a major concern and a very real and possible danger. So God promised his fearful children that He would not “let their foot be moved”. This doesn’t mean that God forbids them (or us) from sinning. It doesn’t mean that they didn’t (or we won’t) have to face sometimes dreadful consequences for our actions. It does mean that God nourishes us, not only through the harm that others would do to us, but even the harm we might bring upon ourselves.
All of us want to feel safe, especially given what happened just a few months ago. We want to feel protected from foreign invaders so we emphasize the importance of a strong defense. We want to know that we are protected from danger. We want policemen protecting our streets so we will feel protected at home. The restaurants we attend have safety inspections so we will feel protected when we eat. The cars we drive have to meet safety standards so we will feel protected in case we are in an accident. But where does our safety really come from? Does it come from our policemen, inspectors, or a strong national defense?