The Source of Our Hope and Help: Psalm 121

Merry Christmas Sowers! I will be taking a few days off from the Daily Text. Welcome Dr. Timothy Tennent (my boss) for the next few days with reflections from several celebratory Psalms fitting for the season. I’ll be back January 1 with a reprise of our most popular series ever: First Word. Last Word. God’s Word.—to take us through January. Speaking of which, I have a New Year’s Sowing Challenge with a REWARD for you to consider. 

Psalm 121 (NIV)

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

Sing this psalm with the Seedbed Psalter today! Visit the resource here.


The second psalm in this collection of ascents to Jerusalem brings the assurance of trusting God in the midst of pilgrimage dangers. The opening question of where our help comes from is answered with a resounding confidence, “My help comes from the Lord [Yahweh], the Maker of heaven and earth” (v. 2). It may be that as they looked up to the hills which lay in vivid sight before them, the pilgrims were well aware that the mountains were filled with danger—with robbers and thieves, violent men, and violent animals waiting to attack from every crag. Or it may be that the beauty and majesty of the hills reminded them of the steadfast refuge of God’s care and provision. Either way, the psalm delivers a decisive answer: we are placing our confidence and trust in the Lord. Whatever may come in life’s journey, God is watching over us. He neither slumbers nor sleeps (v. 4), he will keep us in his care (vv. 5–7), and he will watch over us both in this life’s journey and forevermore (v. 8).

The promises of no harm captured by the powerful phrases, “the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night” (v. 6) may seem hollow at first glance in light of the sufferings and tragedies that have come upon God’s people throughout every age. But the Psalms are never a glib fare; they are filled with the stark recognition of those realities. The psalmist’s trust is not swayed by these. The answer is found in the power of God’s presence echoed through the repeated phrases, “the Lord will keep you” and “the Lord will watch over you” (vv. 7–8).

Through the eyes of faith, the psalmist understands there is something greater than the mountains, whether as a place of fear, or as a place of inspiring beauty: namely, how the presence of God transforms everything. In the end, the mountains provide a great reminder of the presence of God, because God met his people on the mountains. God met Abraham on Mount Moriah and provided the sacrificial substitute for Isaac. God met Moses on Mount Sinai and entered into covenant with his people, giving them both Law and promises. God met Elijah on Mount Carmel and revealed himself as the true and living God, not like the idols of the nations. As Christians, we realize that this trajectory of hope whereby God meets his people on mountains continued. Jesus met us on the Mount of Beatitudes and taught us the ways of the kingdom. Jesus met us on the Mount of Transfiguration and revealed his coming glory. Finally, in the greatest act of all, God met the whole human race on Mount Calvary, and revealed his greatest love for a lost world!
With such testimonies, we know that God is always with us, that he is watching over us, and that he never leaves us or forsakes us, no matter what befalls us. Ultimately, nothing can remove God’s presence from us. Paul picks up on that great assurance with even more boldness when he declares that “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38–39). Our help, then as now, comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth!

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

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