On looking to the mountains for help. . . .

2.25.14  Epiphany- Day 50

Psa. 121 (NLT)

I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.

 The LORD himself watches over you!
The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.

 The LORD keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.

2Cor. 1:12-22 (ESVS)

For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and understand and I hope you will fully understand— just as you did partially understand us—that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you.

Because I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a second experience of grace. I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on my way to Judea. Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.


I love Psalm 121. It is the beginning of the Psalms of Ascent. According to Jewish Tradition, as the tribes made their way to Jerusalem for the feasts and festivals they would begin singing these Psalms as they made their final ascending approach to the city. In ancient times, different religious temples were located on mountain tops as a symbol of the so-called god’s sovereignty over a particular area. As the people approached Mt. Zion, they rehearsed their faith. They were looking to Mt. Zion alone.  To look to any other mountain would be an act of false worship. They looked to Mt. Zion for on Mt. Zion they would worship the one true God, the maker of heaven and earth.

It feels like a little bit of a taunt– maybe a little like Elijah taunting the 450 prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel– “Does my help come from the mountains?” Not on your life! Can you imagine the emphatic, exultant chant, “My help comes from the Lord! The maker of heaven and earth!”

A few years back I committed this Psalm to memory. On most mornings as I prepare to enter the chaos of the day, I recite the Psalm aloud, (rhetorical question and all) because not a day goes by that I don’t need to physically hear that the Lord didn’t sleep last night; that he worked through the night and because of that I now have good work to enter into. I need to hear that he will not let me stumble; that he is my keeper. I  need to hear that he is my “protective shade.” I need to be reminded that he is watching over me, keeping me from harm, that I don’t have to worry about sudden disaster. It’s not enough that this Psalm is in the Bible. In fact, it’s not enough that the Word of God is written down in a book (as inestimable a gift as this is). This Psalm must be unleashed into life. My ears must hear it. I need to audibly ask the question and then hear the audible answer. “My help comes from the Lord; the maker of heaven and earth!” Even better if I can hear it in the cacophony of voices we know as the Church.

Remember, faith comes by hearing. It really can be that simple.

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