My help comes from the Lord: Psalm 121

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by asterisktom, Feb 3, 2012.

  1. asterisktom

    asterisktom
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    I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,
    from whence cometh my help.


    My help cometh from the LORD,
    which made heaven and earth.



    Psalm 121:1-2

    As is the case with many of the Psalms, we are left in the dark as to what occasion actually prompted the composing of it. But we do know that it is one of the fifteen Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134). These were the God-centered meditations of those who were going up to Jerusalem to offer sacrifice.

    And we also are fairly certain that it was written long after the time of King David, that is was one of the Psalms written after the return of the Jews from their Babylonian captivity. This is an important detail. It was not penned by David during Israel's first flush of national establishment and glory, but after a staggering series of defeats and the lingering humiliation of deportation of God's people. This song was sung, probably, beginning in Ezra's time, with the memory fresh of being "strangers in a strange land". It is with backward looking heart-pained nostalgia that they look to Jerusalem's familiar hills. But, more importantly, it is with eyes of faith that they look forward to the Temple of those hills, and to the God of the Temple.

    But how does this relate to us today? Christians, as sons of Abraham, look with the same eyes of faith, not to geographical hills or to a historical temple - long-since turned to rubble. We still look to the same God that they did.

    Though it cannot be tied to any one occasion it is quite suited to all occasions. Whenever we are in need of help we can turn to God who helps the helpless.

    What about those hills?
    It is not a stretch to see the "hills" as being those that surround Jerusalem. Other passages help us to fix the meaning. Just two Psalms later we are assured that unity is “as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.”

    The blessings of God are in those "mountains of Zion”.
    "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from
    henceforth even forever.” Psalm 125:2

    In Psalm 2 we have our focus narrowed down to just one mountain – and the reason for that focus, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” Christ is the King who has been established on His holy mountain of Zion.

    Let’s go beyond the imagery here. We are not looking to mountains, in reality. Neither were they. We are looking to God, Creator of mountains, and oceans, continents, galaxies - and us.

    It is a reminder that, when we are perplexed troubles, to look to God.

    Now this might all seem trite and obvious. Yet my experience has shown (perhaps yours too?) that this is exactly what is so often overlooked. The most helpful truths are usually not the profound, but the once-found and then forgotten ones. Truths like:

    God is with us. Immanuel.
    God answers prayer.
    God is "near to them who are of a broken heart; and saves those of a contrite spirit", Psalm 34:18

    Corrie Ten Boom reminder is most helpful here ....

    "Look around and be distressed.
    Look inside and be depressed.
    Look at Jesus and be at rest."

    Discernible in the background of this Psalm is some unsettling affliction, else there would be no cry for help. And it is true that it is much more often during dark valleys than pleasant times that we think of God. It is also during these times that we come to know more of God as Saviour and Friend. We are forced to this. Good times may evoke pious platitudes about God and His blessings, but sharp hardships wring serious prayer from our lips and a heartfelt faith.

    It is easy for us, like Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration to say, "Lord, it is good for us to be here!" It is much harder for us to follow the faith of the oft-troubled David and confess, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."

    Scripture and history is full of prayers sent Godward in the same earnest strain:

    "The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knows them who trust in him." - Nahum 1:7

    Luther
    ’s hymn comes to mind:

    "A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
    Our Helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:"

    God is a present help for our present troubles.
    One use of this Psalm is to remind us that God is our help in our present need. Many have faith in the God that was (Christ died for our sins), that God that will be (everything will work out in the sweet by-and-by). Where their faith is weak is God's ability - or concern for - what is on today's calendar in our lives.

    There is an eternity of possibilities in the Divine Name.
    We need to contemplate God's very name in verse two, Yahweh. This would have reminded the Jewish pilgrims of God’s fuller name, which is often translated as “I Am that I Am”. But it can also be, "I was what I was", and "I will be what I will be." We can draw out all the variations as well, "I was what I will be". "I am what I was”, and so on.

    Do you see the point? God never changes. He is - and always will be - faithful to those who look to Him.

    This Psalm is not about ancient people looking to ancient hills for help long since forgotten.
    It is a reminder to you, Oh child of God, that your Helper is right with you!
     
  2. kyredneck

    kyredneck
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    Thanks for this Tom. You are so right, "The most helpful truths are usually not the profound, but the once-found and then forgotten ones."

    Saved to 'Quotes' file:

    "Look around and be distressed.
    Look inside and be depressed.
    Look at Jesus and be at rest." Corrie Ten Boom
     
  3. asterisktom

    asterisktom
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    Thanks, Kyredneck. I am sorry that I missed this until just now. Between my hectic schedule and spotty Internet its easy for me to overlook responses.
     
  4. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast
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    19having gone, then, disciple all the nations, (baptizing them -- to the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,

    20teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you,) and lo, I am with you all the days -- till the full end of the age.'

    Even in China....all the days...good and bad...he will never leave or forsake us.
     

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