“I lift up my eyes to the hills – from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2 (NRSV)
Psalm 121 is one of my favorite psalms and its reference to hills or mountains is largely the reason. While the days of my childhood and youth were not spent in a mountain locale, my family and I often took off for the mountains for our annual vacations. To some degree the mountains were a refuge for us from the daily stresses of life.
My first pastorate was spent in the mountains of southwest Virginia and for twelve years I would look up to the peak known as Angels’ Rest, which overlooked Pearisburg Presbyterian Church that I served. While it seems terribly naïve, I readily admit that for a long time I have felt closer to God at higher altitudes of terra firma. I know that there are others who sense God’s presence more at the beach, but for me, I feel closer to God in the mountains. I hope to return to live in a foothill or mountain community upon my retirement
Now I have been on some lofty mountaintops, in Colorado and North Carolina as well as in Austria and Switzerland, and surveyed that which lies below. I have often been on the valley floors and gazed at towering peaks above. Whether looking up or down, I am always amazed by God’s glory and grace. Our help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.
After that first verse of the psalm, there is no further reference to hills or mountains. The remainder of the psalm emphasizes God’s care and protection. What I find most comforting about this psalm is that God’s protection is not just for the “here and now.” We read, “The Lord will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.” The Lord is our keeper for time and eternity.
The Lord is our protector and we belong to God. In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul wrote, “We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” (14:7-8) Wherever we are, God is with us to care for us and to protect us.
“Wherever I may wander, Wherever I may be, I’m certain of my Maker’s love; God’s care is over me. God made the great high mountains, And made the wide blue sea; … I’m certain of my Maker’s love; God’s care is over me.” Amen.