April 20, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Psalm 121:1-2 (NRSV)
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.
God is revealed to us in Scripture as a worker, the one who made heaven and earth. When we need help in our work, we can turn to God with confidence. God understands. God cares. God is powerful beyond our understanding and ready to help us.
If you grew up using the King James Version of the Bible, you no doubt heard the first verse of Psalm 121 as a statement: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” But, these days, most translations and commentators recognize that the second part of this verse is not a statement but a question. So the NRSV reads, “I lift up my eyes to the hills – from where will my help come?” (Psalm 121:1). This reading is confirmed by the CEB, NLT, NIV, ESV, and The Message.
Why does the Psalm writer mention the hills? Some commentators think that the hills were known as a place of danger. One going into the hills needed special help. Other commentators believe the mention of hills is related to the religions of the pagan Canaanites. They saw the hills as the home of the gods. If that’s what the psalm writer was thinking, then we might paraphrase the first two verses in this way, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where will my help come? Not from the hills. Rather, my help comes from the LORD who made heaven and earth, including the hills. The LORD is God over all creation.”
Verse 2 pictures the LORD as the one “who made heaven and earth.” This is, of course, an allusion to the creation story in Genesis 1. There, God is revealed as one who makes things. Or to use more common language, God is a worker. God’s work reveals God’s majesty, power, order, and beauty.
The fact that God is a worker helps us to remember that when we face challenges in our work, God is with us. When we are looking for help at work, we can have confidence that God is present, ready to help.
Gracious God, when I need help at work, I can turn to you. You are the best source of help. You care about me and my work. You know work from your own experience. You can understand what I’m going through.
When I remember your first work, the creation of heaven and earth, I am reminded of your unmatched power and unsurpassable wisdom. So I turn to you because you are my helper.
Thank you, gracious God, for all the ways and times you have helped me at work. When I face new challenges in the future, may I reach out to you. May I trust that you are there for me, there to help. Amen.
Ponder Throughout the Day
No matter what you face today in your work, God is there for you. God is your helper.
For Further Reflection
Read all of Psalm 121.
You might also wish to read Psalm 46.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Does the Lord Really Keep Us from All Harm?.
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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.