September 28, 2018 • Life for Leaders
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
I love mountains. I love to visit them, gaze upon them, and hike all over them. I like what the mountains offer: windswept beauty, awe-inspiring peaks, glacial lakes, verdant forests, and an invitation to be peaceful.
Thus, when I read Psalm 121:1, “I lift my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?” I am encouraged and comforted. But that’s not how this verse would have sounded to the one who wrote it and to the Jews who first heard it. The mountains, for them, represented danger: treacherous trails, hidden bandits, and dangerous weather. When they lifted their eyes to the hills, pilgrims on the road to Jerusalem would have wondered: “Where is my help? Who will help me get through the mountains safely?”
We find the answer to the question in the following verses. Help is not to be found in the mountains. Rather, it comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth, including the mountains (121:2). The Lord will not let you stumble on rocky paths (121:3). He will protect you from the elements (121:6). He will “keep you from all harm” and “watch over your life” (121:7-8).
You and I may not look upon literal mountains with fear in our hearts. But we do see other kinds of dangers ahead and worry about our well-being. Some of us face the “mountains” of economic insecurity and job loss. Others gaze upon the “hills” of marital conflict or rebellious teenagers. Still others worry about physical risks and violence. The list of our “mountains” goes on and on.
When we see dangers ahead, when we fret about our future, Psalm 121 offers trustworthy reassurance. God is there to help us. He will guide us, protect us, guard us, and keep us safe. We are not promised a life without struggle and pain. But the Lord promises to be with us always, and this is all the help we really need.
Something to Think About:
When you feel afraid or overwhelmed, what helps you to remember God’s presence?
What challenges do you face right now that feel like scary mountains? Have you offered these to the Lord?
How is God making his presence known to you in the midst of these “hills”?
Something to Do:
Take some time to tell the Lord which challenges of your life feel like dangerous mountains. Be honest. Don’t hold back. Then, give these challenges to God, asking him to be your help.
Gracious God, thank you for the reassurance of Psalm 121. Indeed, my help doesn’t come from mountains, or human strength, or hard work, or careful planning. My help comes from you, the maker of heaven and earth.
Thank you, Lord, for keeping me from stumbling as I walk along the path of life. Thank you for protecting and guiding me. Thank you for always being there, even when I cannot sense your presence.
By your Spirit, may I trust you more than I have. As challenges come, the “mountains” of my life, may I have confidence that you are there and that you are my help. Always.
All praise be to you, O God, my help. Amen.
Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
Best of Daily Reflections: Does the Lord Really Keep Us from All Harm?
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.