Summary: We must learn to COUNT on God as the SOURCE of our protection. Do we depend too much on othe things and find that they disappoint us?
“Who’s Watching Out for Me?”
INTRODUCTION: Today’s Psalm is one of 15 Psalms called the Pilgrim Psalms or songs of Ascent. They were sung by those who journeyed toward Jerusalem or ascended to the temple for the annual feasts. Each psalm is a step along the way.
Psalm 120 begins the journey in a distant land in hostile surroundings. Psalm 122 pictures the pilgrims arriving in Jerusalem and the rest of these Psalms move toward the temple mentioning various characteristics of God. This particular Psalm 121 contains much assurance and hope. These Psalms of Ascent are appropriate for our Lenten journey as we seek to draw closer to the Lord.
The Psalm begins, “I lift up my eyes to the hills--... You have probably heard this Psalm quoted more often from the King James Version which says, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help.” The Hebrew Word for whence is always a question. Most of the more recent translations say, “I look to the hills, where does my help come from?” The reason for saying this is that as the pilgrims traveled toward Jerusalem they could see the majestic hills in the distance and Jerusalem--the spiritual center where God dwells. Their eyes look not to the hills for their help but to God. My help comes from the Lord who is the maker of the hills.
In spite of the fact that the hills are majestic and beautiful, this psalm also implies a situation of uncertainty. When they started out they may have been excited about the journey to Jerusalem but they may have at the same time had some apprehension and what ifs...along with the anticipation of arriving in Jerusalem. The trip could be filled with much danger on the way. The Psalmist may be looking with apprehensive for sudden attacks in lonely ravines or mountain passes. Either way, the Psalm points out that the God who created the mountains is where the help comes from. Any danger and uncertainty is offset by unquestioning trust in the Lord.
How does this Psalm speak to us today? I believe it speaks personally to us in our 21st century lifestyle as much as it did to these people.
1. God is Our Source: Most of us want to hang on to something very tangible. We are more accustomed to living by sight and feelings rather than living by faith. We have always lived in a society where we place our hope in many of the instruments that God has created rather than in the Source of creation itself--God. We look to our hills and mountains as security and see them as strength to us. Maybe it is because these are tangible things we can see with our eyes--we look to the security of our jobs, our 401K’s, Social Security, the medical teams and health care systems, insurance, education, our family roots and our friendships. We look to our good health and the ability to make in on our own so much of the time. This is evident when people stay away from the house of God for weeks at a time only showing up when it is convenient to do so. It shows our true feeling, “I can make it on my own. I really have things covered by myself.” But we often find that our hills and mountains are often filled with insecurity, dangers, and sudden attacks against us. Often things don’t work out as we had planned. We hit some snags along the way.
Jeremiah 3:23 says, “truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel.” Ultimately our help does not come from the things we count on so much--from all of the things that God has created but from the CREATOR Himself. Even though we KNOW all this, it is a lesson that is not learned easily or quickly. The places we look for help are like the mountains, beckoning us with much that is genuinely good yet also threatening and insecure.
Some people say, “Well then I won’t trust the instruments of God at all.” One woman says, “I refuse to go to a doctor when I’m sick. Or I refuse to have health insurance or I refuse to have a savings account or a pension plan. I refuse to... “No, that would be silly--God has given us these things that He has made. Yet these mountains and hills can disappoint us. Look at those who trusted in their Enron 401K’s. Look at those who have trusted their jobs right up almost until retirement and they were laid off and everything was gone. Look at those whose health has declined and the doctors said, “I’m sorry, there is nothing more I can do.”