I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the LORD, who made the heavens and the earth! - Psalm 121:1-2
Some men regard mountains as sacred residences of spiritual beings. They treat the peaks with deference. So a British expedition stopped just short of the summit of Kanchenjunga at the request of the Sikkim government because it was believed the gods lived there. Other men, like the great military leader Hannibal, see the mountains as a hindrance to be overcome. In the third century B.C. he marshaled his army and led them over the Alps from Spain into northern Italy—a spectacular feat made even more dramatic by the fact that the army’s supplies were carried over the mountains by elephants! Still other men, when they look at the soaring peaks, see a challenge to be accepted. So when a mountaineer was asked why he tried to climb Everest, he said simply, “Because it was there.”
The psalm writer, on viewing the mountains, asked the question, “Does my help come from there?” (Ps. 121:1). As he was on a pilgrimage journey, climbing the rough road to Jerusalem, which lies nestled in the mountains, perhaps the psalm writer asked himself whether Jerusalem, and all it stood for, was the answer to his feelings of insecurity. Or perhaps the psalm writer had just completed a time of festival worship in the Holy City, and as he contemplated the mountainous terrain lying between him and his home, this question came to mind.
The answer is forthcoming, and serves to direct the psalm writer’s attention to the Lord, who made the mountains—in fact, he is the one “who made the heavens and the earth!” (121:2). The Lord is the one from whom all things come, in whom all things consist, and because of whom all things continue to be.
As we face life’s mountains, our help comes from the Lord. The mountains are austere, forbidding, and immovable. Because of this, men may be excused if they gain he impression that the One who made the mountains—and everything else—is similarly austere, forbidding, and immovable. But the psalm writer insists otherwise. The Lord himself is the one who “watches over you” (121:5). He is not remote; he is “at hand.” He is not uncaring; he is alert to our condition and aware of our needs. He is not callous and indifferent; his ears are attentive to our cries.
The mountains of life may hold promise of adventure or cast grim shadows of foreboding, but nothing they offer or threaten can alter the fact that “The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever” (121:8). Hannibal crossed his mountains with the help of elephants. To cross our mountains, we have the Lord!
For Further Study: Psalm 121
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
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