Read Psalm 121
Just a few times this week, people have dropped Psalm 121 into conversation with me. Here in the Highlands, looking up and seeing the hills around us, it’s got those of us who live in and live out God’s Word going to that Psalm. Whispering it with something like a daring hope – ‘I lift my eyes to the hills… where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.’
For those people I’ve heard it from, and the look on their faces, there’s an automatic connection going on – ‘Eyes see hills… heart remembers help… help from God…’ Thank God He’s given us so many visual reminders around us!
I’m no stranger to this Psalm, because I’m no stranger to funerals. And this Psalm gets used often enough at funerals. Do you know, I’ve always found it strange, to be honest. Everything from vv.3-8 exudes this comfort, this promise, that nothing’s going to harm us because God’s constantly watching over us. But in front of us all is a coffin of a person who came to enough harm to actually die. I think most people like to hear nice, soft sounding words, even if they find them a little hollow.
But actually, we’re not most people. And these words aren’t hollow or untrue. Not for us. You see, for everyone for whom vv.1-2 are true (‘My help comes from the LORD’ rather than anything above Him), all the other verses are also true. God is constantly watching over us. Never shutting His eyes, falling asleep or looking away. He’s completely present and completely watchful. And it’s His very presence with us – the thing that other people don’t recognise – that is the help we need. Nothing can scorch His presence. Neither day nor night can separate us from Him. Not even the coming to and going through death can take us away from either His watchfulness or His presence – because it’s ’now and forevermore’ (v.8).
Father God, you’ve placed hills around us, and us amongst these hills. Let our minds land on you every time our eyes settle on them. And be our help, LORD God. Everything else can harm us, but you won’t. Nothing else can actually harm us finally because of your presence and watchfulness. Help us truly to believe that, and know the kind of peace that the Psalmist wrote this with.