A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip— He who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm— He will watch over your life; 8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
This has been one of my favorite psalms for a long time now. For one thing, it fits so many different occasions in life. I have used it as a text for a Sunday morning sermon, a wedding, an anniversary, innumerable home and hospital visits, and many a funeral service as well. If you had asked me four months ago about using it as a devotion for a worldwide pandemic, you would have witnessed a confused and unknowing look on my face. But here we are… and
As the subtitle indicates, this is “a song of ascents.” It is actually one of fifteen psalms called “songs of ascent” (Psalms 120-134). They were psalms used as songs by the Hebrew pilgrims as they made their way from all over the ancient world to celebrate the festivals in the Temple in Jerusalem.
Along the travel route, the pilgrims battled the intense heat of the desert sun during the day and they struggled to stay warm under the cold desert sky at night. In addition, they were constantly on the lookout for dangerous wild animals who roamed the desert and highway robbers who lurked in the crevices and shadows along the desert road. The pilgrims put their faith in God, who was present not only in His holy Temple in Jerusalem, but who was also with them every step along life’s journey.
Regardless from what direction the pilgrims approached the holy city, once they came to the mountain on which the Temple stood, their eyes were naturally directed upward to the hills of Jerusalem and the high summit that loomed before them. “I lift up my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from?” The answer came clearly and decisively: “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth!” The pilgrims knew that their God was not a local god, not a desert god, and not a god with limited power. The God whom they worshiped was the infinite and almighty Maker and Ruler of all. They knew He was present with them and He was powerful to protect them.
Our God watches over us, too, and He provides protection in the form of shade from the sun and shelter during the night. He promises to keep us from all harm and to watch over our lives. He watches over our coming and going, both now and forevermore. May His peace comfort you and His strong presence sustain you!
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