The LORD the Keeper of Israel.
A Song of Ascents.
I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper;
The LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The LORD will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.
When you find yourself in the valley with the enemy bearing down on you, where do you look?
Psalm 120 ended with a man longing for peace but finding himself at war. In this way he begins a journey to the Mount of Jerusalem. At the beginning of any journey you need to have the destination in mind. But to look forward means to take your eyes off the past.
It is my experience that God uses the challenges in our lives to teach us things. For me, the feeling of being overwhelmed presents an excellent opportunity for God to get my attention and moving has always been one of those opportunities. I’ve moved around a lot in my married life. While every move has presented its own challenge, I remember one move in particular. It was 1995. We had just left Macon, GA.
One day soon after our arrival in Burlington, NC, I remember thinking about all of the friends I had made over the years, from college, to seminary, to Australia, to Macon, and I was overwhelmed with the sense of trying to ‘carry around’ all of these relationships from a distance. In the midst of my musings, the Lord spoke quite clearly to me: You can’t grasp what is in front of you if you keep holding on to what is behind. I saw myself reaching forward with one hand while turning to look and reach back with the other. The hand reaching back was full, but the one reaching forward was empty.
So the Psalmist had to leave the past behind to start the journey forward. He left behind his inability to manage his situation and looked elsewhere for help. Charles Spurgeon put it this way:
It is wise to look to the strong for strength. Dwellers in valleys are subject to many disorders for which there is no cure but a sojourn in the uplands, and it is well when they shake off their lethargy and resolve upon a climb. Down below they are the prey of marauders, and to escape from them the surest method is to fly to the strongholds upon the mountains… Help comes to saints only from above, they look elsewhere in vain: let us lift up our eyes with hope, expectance, desire, and confidence.
It is our resolve that we will not be bandaged and blindfolded, but will lift up our eyes. Or is the text in the interrogative? Does he ask, “Shall I lift up mine eyes to the hills?” Does he feel that the highest places of the earth can afford him no shelter? Or does he renounce the idea of recruits hastening to his standard from the hardy mountaineers? and hence does he again enquire, “Whence cometh my help?” If so, the next verse answers the question, and shows whence all help must come.
From ‘The Treasury of David’
For the Psalmist, the hills offered no sure refuge. He looked higher still to the Lord, ‘who made heaven and earth.’ In a way this was the lesson for me that day in Burlington: my past and future relationships would never be enough. My help could only come from the Lord who is the Maker of all things.
The Psalmist has given us a road map into God’s presence. Step one is to acknowledge the challenges in our lives. Step two is to look to the One Who can meet those challenges with and for us. Knowing this Creator God who is your help and your destination makes all the difference. I want to leave you with a call to think about each word picture above describing God’s care for you. I would love to hear what those aspects of God mean to you personally (one or all of them). Please post insights in the comments.
God give you His peace and grace as you make your way into deeper relationship with Him.