One wonders who the Psalmist was and what was running through his mind when he wrote down the words to this beautiful song:
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. (Psalm 121:1-2)
Was he an old man trudging along a country road taking him back to the place where he belonged? Was he catching his first glimpse of the hills of home after seventy years of exile in Babylon? Had he worshiped and felt God’s presence on Mount Zion as a young person and was overwhelmed with anticipation and appreciation of returning to that sacred place?
Or was he a young man on the same journey to Jerusalem, to the home he had only heard about, to the hills he had never seen but longed to because he knew God’s blessing was again on that place.
Possibly he was just a pilgrim on his way to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Temple. Along the treacherous journey, he anxiously surveyed the dangerous hills filled with thieves and robbers, and he confidently thought about the Lord and the safety found in Him?
Maybe he was a hiker enjoying Israel’s countryside. As he gazed upon the glorious hills, his contemplation was interrupted by the awareness of all the “high places”, the altars to other gods and other religions. He was horrified at the extent of paganism in the Holy Land, and his mind turned to grateful thoughts of the one, true, living God, who was the personal Keeper of His people.
Whatever the context, the message is clear! The Lord God, the Creator of heaven and earth, the King of Heaven, is a faithful, powerful, loving and compassionate Guardian of His people! He is sovereign over “the hills”. “ He will not let your foot be moved; 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 shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night…” (Psalm 121:3-6)
No matter what physical or spiritual challenges the Psalmist would meet on his journey ahead, he had total confidence that the Lord would preserve his life from evil. With God’s strength, he could conquer whatever came into his life. Temptations are many, varied, and insidious and are found in our own hills of desires and cultures. We create idols of heritage, wealth, intellect, personal abilities, relationships, positions, philosophies, and world views. Although these may be good things, they become as evil when they supplant God as the source of our security and happiness and purpose. Our earnest prayer must be, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver from evil.”
We understand the Psalmist’s confidence. If “…God is for us, who can stand against us?” When we faithfully look beyond the hills where our unhealthy desires and spiritual enemies lurk, our Creator and Heavenly Father gives strength and protection and meaning so that our foot will not slip. “…the LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.” (Psalm 121:7)
And ultimately the journey ends in God’s eternal presence. “The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.“(Psalm 121:8)