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Psalm 121: From Where Does My Help Come? Print E-mail
Psalms
Sunday, 12 July 2015

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When I went to Jerusalem in college, my professor who taught our class talked about Psalm 121. The old city of Jerusalem, which includes the Temple Mount and the Wailing Wall, is surrounded by huge block walls and sits somewhat elevated. My professor told us that the original city sat south of the Temple Mount and would have been lower in elevation. At one point we were standing in that lower section of the old city and he read verse 1 of Psalm 121: I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? After he read it, he told us to look around, and in every direction we were surrounded by hills. He explained that when the psalmist penned this, he very well could have been thinking about the view from Jerusalem in his day, even looking around as we did at the hills above us. If an army was going to attack the city, then they would first appear on those hills, where would help come from then?

But the psalmist answers his own question in verse 2. Look at that with me. No matter how many men might be charging down those hills, the Lord will be our help? And why is that so encouraging? Because He made the hills. If the Lord can speak the heavens and the earth into existence, then surely He can help His people no matter what enemy they face. He is the only help that they have, but He is the only help that they need. When the Creator Himself is own your side, then what in all of creation is there to fear? After such an encouraging beginning, the psalmist goes on to give us three reasons why we can trust our Creator to help us.

He is always awake

Have you ever wondered: why do we need burglar alarms and electronic home security systems? Why are they necessary? We need them, at least in part, because we have to sleep. No single human can be a perfect guardian because every human has to sleep at some point. Prison guards work in shifts so they can go home and rest. Sleep can pose a great problem to protection. In the days of the psalmist, many of the other nations worshipped ‘gods’ who needed rest, which is part of the reason why they needed to have multiple ‘gods.’ While one ‘god’ was sleeping, the others could continue to keep watch.

But not with Yahweh. Look at verses 3-4. The God of Israel is not like a man who needs rest to recover His strength. Nor is He like the ‘gods’ of the nations who need help in protecting their followers. Those who follow Yahweh have all they need in Him because He never sleeps. He never needs a break. He never needs to recover His strength. He is always alert, always at the ready, always strong.

There are times in our lives when it may seem like God is asleep. We may be stuck in circumstances that never change. We may be crying out to Him over and over. We may hear only silence in response. But silence does not mean sleep. Our God never sleeps nor slumbers. He never grows tired of watching over His people. You may not hear Him speak or see Him move, but He is there and He is always awake. The maker of heaven and earth does not need sleep.

He is always protecting

Even if the Lord is always awake, what happens when our enemies are strong? It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the enemies we face. What if they are too numerous or too strong? What if the Lord loses track of us? After all, there are a lot of people on the planet! What if we slip through His protection?

The psalmist speaks to that in verses 5-6. Look at those with me. We should note that not only does the Lord keep Israel (v. 4), the Lord keeps you as well. We might be tempted to reason that the Lord is watching after His people as a whole, but He has lost track of me individually. But that is not the case. The Lord is the Keeper of His people collectively and the Keeper of you individually. Do not think that the Lord has forgotten you or that you are too insignificant for Him. Yes, He is great and yes He is glorious and yes we can overemphasize individuality at points. But the truth remains: The Lord is your keeper.

When does the Lord keep you? He keeps you from the sun in the day and from the moon in the night. So then, the Lord is protecting you all day long and all night long. When does that leave us without His protection? When does He leave us exposed to our enemies? Never. If the Lord is with us all day and all night, then He is always with us. The Creator who never sleeps never stops protecting us. You can always know that the Lord is protecting you.

He is always with you

But what about when it does not seem that the Lord is in fact protecting you? What about when things get hard? Where is the Lord at when that stuff is happening?

He is with you. Look at verses 7-8. The Lord has been your keeper. The Lord is your keeper. And the Lord will be the keeper of your life. He keeps you in the day and in the night. And He keeps when you go out and when you come in. In every place and in every time, the Lord is your keeper.

Sometimes this sounds too good to be true. Sometimes it just does not feel like the Lord is protecting and keeping us. But the psalmist assures us that He is. Granted, this does not mean that life will be easy and comfortable. That is not what is being promised here. Rather, it means that we will never be alone in anything that we face. The Lord will always be with us. And even when it seems like our enemies are going to triumph over us, we know that the Lord will keep us from all evil. Sin may have its day, but it will not defeat us in the end. It cannot, for it has already been defeated at the cross. When Jesus paid for our sins at Calvary and cried out, “It is finished,” then the promise of God for the protection of His people was being fulfilled. Where is the sting of sin and death? Where is the claim of the Enemy on our lives? The cross has made an end to all of their threats. Through faith in Christ, the Lord keeps us from all evil.

And He promises to always be with us. As believers in Christ, we know that that promise has been fulfilled through the giving of the Spirit. Living on this side of the cross and the resurrection and Pentecost, we have the glorious promise that the Spirit is always with us. When the job is frustrating, the Spirit is there. When finances are tight, the Spirit is there. When that dreaded call comes late at night, the Spirit is with us. Not only has God told us that He will always be with us in Psalm 121, He has given us His Spirit in fulfillment of that promise. We are able to enjoy the presence of God in a way that was not possible before Christ. He is always with us.

CONCLUSION
As the people would march up to the temple through the streets of Jerusalem they would sing this song of praise. As they looked around them to the hills that surrounded the city they would cry: I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. We can join with them this morning in such praise. We can know that our God never sleeps, never stops protecting, never leaves us or forsakes us. We know that because of what took place on a particular hill outside the city of Zion.

They led Jesus through the gates and up to Golgotha. They nailed His hands and His feet to tree and raised up for all to see. They watched Him die and heard Him cry out to the Father. And with His last breath He yelled victoriously: “It is finished!” They placed His body in a tomb and three days later He came back from the grave. So lift up your eyes this morning and look to the hill of Calvary. For it is on that hill that the maker of heaven and earth gave His life for your sins. Through repentance and faith in Him you can have the promise of new life and the continuous presence of the Spirit. Through faith in Christ you can sing with the psalmist: “The Lord will keep my going out and my coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” Where does our help come from? Our help comes from the Lord, our Creator and our Redeemer. Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 18 August 2015 )

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