Psalm 121:1
This is what the writer of this precious psalm looks for from God (see the first two verses), and this is what the psalm promises, and that with the utmost particularity. There shall not be even a slip of the foot, a thing so common in mountainous lands, and often so perilous, and the keeping shall be night and day alike, and close at hand (ver. 5). The Lord himself shall see to if, whether during the heat of the day or the chill of the night, it matters not. The Lord shall keep thee inwardly and outwardly soul and body alike, from all evil and in all thy ways. "But" - so ask not a few - "is all that true? Are we so kept as this psalm promises - not the mere godless crowd, but the company of God's faithful ones: does the Lord keep them, as is here said, 'from all evil'?" And then there are brought forward the long array of facts which seem to make against the truth of this word. Disease, accident, death, the overwhelming by earthquakes, lightning, flood, storm; by the ferocity or the folly of men, and by any of the ten thousand ills which flesh is heir to. As we contemplate the awful number of victims to such causes as we have named, and the yet worse ruin which comes from moral causes, it is not to be wondered at that some regard this psalm as rather a pious imagination than the declaration of actual fact. What are we to say? Are we to give up our faith in the blessed guardianship of God, and to consign to the category of credulity the trust which this psalm encourages? We will not do that, but we will reply -

I. THE PROMISE IS NOT FOR EVERY COMMUNITY, BUT FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD. The band of pilgrims who set out from Babylon to return to their native land and to re-establish the worship of God were a special and a holy company, and God did keep them as they journeyed on along the weary wilderness-ways. We must come within the circle of the covenanted people of God ere we can lay claim to the fulfillment of a psalm like this. It is not for the godless, but for the regenerated people of God. For them -

II. THE GENERAL RULE OF GOD'S PROVIDENTIAL CARE IS AS HERE SET FORTH. Not the universal, but the general rule. There have been and there are exceptions, but taking the history of God's people in all ages, and looking at their average experience, may we not cry - It is well with the righteous; the Lord is their Keeper? God's people are, after all, the happiest people under the sun.

III. OUR IDEA OF BEING KEPT AND GOD'S IDEA MAY BE VERY DIFFERENT.

1. We think so much of the keeping of the body, and of a man's outward circumstances. But in comparison with the soul's well-being, God counts these things as of no importance. Hence God may preserve a man's soul when he lets his outward affairs go all to ruin; for the sake of his soul this may be needed. But if his soul has been kept, has not God been true to his word?

2. God takes eternity into view; we think only of the present. If, then, a man be eternally saved, does the fact that during a period unspeakably short in comparison with eternity the man's outward life was full of trouble invalidate the promise of this psalm and prove it false?

3. Further, we see only the surface of things; God looks at the reality. If, then, what we call disaster, and think to be so, be really amongst "all things which work together for [not merely precede, but produce the] man's good" as is so often the case (see 2 Corinthians 4:17), then is God's permission or sending of that disaster a falsifying of the promise of this psalm.

IV. THE PROMISE MAY BE TRUE TO THE HEART WHEN ITS FULFILLMENT IS NOT APPARENT TO THE EYE. What is the value of all God's providential mercies, his blessed keeping of us in health and external well-being - what is the value of it except for the effect it has upon our minds? It is the inward happiness and peace and joy which these things impart which gives them their value. Otherwise they are of no good at all, any more than the strains of sweetest music are to the deaf, or the most beautiful scenery to the blind. But if God be able - as he is - to impart that same and even greater inward happiness, peace, and joy by other means, and does so, as, blessed be his Name! he so often does, then again we ask - Has not God been true to his word? is not this psalm actual fact? Therefore we rest assured that the Lord will keep us flora all evil, he will keep our soul. - S.C.







My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace.
What an appalling picture have we hero of unreasonable and wicked men! As they love lies, so they hate peace. Is not this the very spirit of him, who was both a liar and a murderer from the beginning? They hate that which is beloved by all the good. What holy and gentle delight is associated with the very name of peace! Peace resting upon our bosom, and soothing all its cares: peace resting upon our households, and folding all the members in one loving embrace: peace resting upon our country, and pouring abundance from her golden horn: peace resting upon all nations, and binding them together with the threefold cord of a common humanity, a common interest, and a common religion! The man who hates peace is a dishonour to the race, an enemy to his brother, and a traitor to his God. He hates Christ, who is the Prince of peace. He hates Christians, who are men of peace. Destitute of internal peace himself, and reluctant that any should possess a blessing in which he himself has no part, it is his incessant effort to sow the seeds of alienation, and to fan the flames of discord. And just as the foul bird of prey scents the battle from afar, and flees to the field of carnage, so you find the haters of peace perpetually prowling around scenes of contention, that they may lend a helping hand to the work of Satan.

(N. McMichael, D. D.).

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills.
I. THE GODLY MAN'S NEED. "Help." Can never outgrow this: dependence the characteristic of the creature: "help" must be had in the conflict or it will end in defeat, in the toil or it will issue in failure, in the pilgrim-march or we faint and fail by the way, etc.

II. THE GODLY MAN'S ATTITUDE: Looking for help — "I will lift up my eyes," etc. He waits — he expects — he obtains. The truest vision is soul-vision. Looking up in solicitation, contemplation, expectation. "Up," from the mud and mire of earth, and the sins and sorrows of self. "The hills" — expressive of strength, "the strength of the hills is His": of majesty — of stability, "the everlasting hills": of veneration, "the silence of the hills breathes veneration" (Mrs. Hemans); striking and suitable emblem of Him to whom all might, and majesty, and duration, and reverence belong.

III. THE GODLY MAN'S CONFIDENCE: "My help cometh from the Lord," etc. He is assured that He who made the heavens and made the earth would rather let the sky fall and the earth perish from the want of His support, than that he should suffer injury from the withholding of His help. Help alone cometh from God: help does and ever will be vouchsafed, etc.

IV. THE GODLY MAN'S SAFETY: "He will not suffer," etc.

1. Safety guaranteed from the highest source: "the Lord is thy Keeper" (ver. 5). His wisdom, power, love, all His attributes a royal battalion — bodyguard around him, unceasingly around him (vers. 3, 4).

2. Safety guaranteed to the whole man, under all circumstances, through all time, from all evil (vers. 7, 8).

(J. O. Keen, D. D.)

Homilist.
I. HIS ATTITUDE.

1. God is the only true help of the soul. He alone can raise it from its fallen condition, break its fetters, heal its wounds, energize its faculties, and set it on a course safe and prosperous.

2. To Him the godly soul instinctively looks in trial. The worldly man in trial looks to earthly things for succour and support, to social sympathies, to human friendships, to Church officers, but the good man turns at once to God, feels that from Him alone the necessary help can come.

II. HIS PROTECTOR.

1. The universal Creator.

2. A sleepless Guardian.

3. The all-sufficient.

III. HIS CONFIDENCE (ver. 7).

(Homilist.)

We see the exile, wearied with the monotony of the long-stretching, flat plains of Babylonia, summoning up before his mind the distant hills where his home was. We see him wondering how he will be able ever to reach that place where his desires are set; and we see him settling down, in hopeful assurance that his effort is not in vain, since his help comes from the Lord. "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills;" away out yonder westwards, across the sands, lies the lofty summits of my father. land that draws me to itself. Then comes a turn of thought, most natural to a mind passionately yearning after a great hope, the very greatness of which makes it hard to keep constant. For the second clause must be taken as a question: "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills. From whence cometh my help?" How am I to get there? And then comes the final turn of thought: "My help cometh from the Lord," etc.

I. THE LOOK OF LONGING. "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills" — a resolution, and a resolution born of intense longing. It comes to be a very sharp question with us professing Christians, whether the horizon of our inward being is limited by, and coterminous with, the horizon of our senses, or whether, far beyond the narrow limits to which these can reach, our spirits' desire stretches boundless. Are, to us, the things unseen the solid things, and the things visible the shadows and the phantoms? We see with the bodily eyes the shadows on the wall, as it were, but we have to turn round and see with the eyes of our minds the light that flings the shadows. "I will lift up my eyes" from the mud-flats where I live to the hills that I cannot see, and, seeing them, I shall be blessed. Further, do we know anything of that longing that the psalmist had? He was perfectly comfortable in Babylon. There was abundance of everything that he wanted for his life. But for all that, fat, wealthy Babylon was not Palestine. So the psalmist longed for the mountains, though the mountains are often bare of green things, amidst the lush vegetation, the wealth of water and the fertile plains. Do we know anything of that longing which makes us "that are in this tabernacle to groan, being burdened"? Unless our Christianity throws us out of harmony and contentment with the present, it is worth very little. And unless we know something of that immortal longing to be nearer to God, and fuller of Christ, and emancipated from sense, and from the burdens and trivialities of life, we have yet to learn what the meaning of "walking not after the flesh but after the Spirit" really, is. Further, do we make any effort like that of this psalmist, who encourages and stimulates himself by that strong "I will lift up my eyes"? You will not do it unless you make a dead lift of effort.

II. THE QUESTION OF WEAKNESS. "From whence cometh my help?" The loftier our ideal, the more painful ought to be our conviction of incapacity to reach it. The Christian man's one security is in feeling his peril, and the condition of his strength is his acknowledgment and vivid consciousness always of his weakness. "Blessed is the man that feareth always." "Pride goeth before destruction." Remember the Franco-German war, and how the French Prime Minister said that they were going into it "with a light heart," and how some of the troops went out of Paris in railway carriages labelled "for Berlin"; and when they reached the frontier they were doubled up and crushed in a month. Unless we, when we set ourselves to this warfare, feel the formidableness of the enemy and recognize the weakness of our own arms, there is nothing but defeat for us.

III. THE ASSURANCE OF FAITH. The psalmist asks himself: "From whence cometh my help?" and then the better self answers the questioning, timid self: "My help cometh from the Lord," etc. There will be no reception of the Divine help unless there is a sense of the need of the Divine help. God cannot help me before I am brought to despair of any other help. If we conceit ourselves to be strong we are weak; if we know ourselves to be impotent, Omnipotence pours itself into us. We read once that Jesus Christ healed "them that had need of healing." Why does the evangelist not say, without that periphrasis, "healed the sick"? Because he would emphasize, I suppose, amongst other things, the thought that only the sense of need fits for the reception of healing and help. If, then, we desire that God should be "the strength of our hearts, and our portion for ever," the coming of His help must be wooed and won by our sense of our own impotence, and only they who say: "We have no might against this great multitude that cometh against us," will ever hear from Him the blessed assurance: "the Lord will fight for you." "Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The text would be better rendered, "Shall I lift up mine eyes unto the hills? Whence should my help come? It cometh from Jehovah, who is high up above the hills; even from the Maker of heaven and earth." Palestine is a mountain-land; and such a country exercises a strange fascination over its inhabitants. What a holy power the great mountains have over us all! They seem to be so near to God, so full of God, that they bring us near to Him, and they fill us full of Him. They make us "look up." And that is precisely what we all need to have done for us.

I. WORLD-DRAWN, WE LOOK DOWN, AND SO ARE WEAK. We are in the world; in a thousand subtle ways we are kin with the world, we are subject to its influences, caught by its whirl of excitement, absorbed by its pressing claims, and easily we may become of the world as well as in it. But everything the world presents to us is below us, beneath us; and it so keeps us looking down, that at last the habit of down-looking grows upon us. How powerfully we are all drawn by world-interests! The influence of the world begets a downward look, a sort of set of the eyes and heart downwards. What do we see when we thus fix our gaze? Nothing elevating, inspiring, ennobling, much of self, of man, and of things. Much of conflict, and struggle, and loss, and pain, and change, and dissatisfaction. Much of man, and his things, that perish with the using. Much of man, and the fashion of this world that passeth away. Human grandeur, which, seen from above, is all of tinsel. Human successes, that are touched by the chill hand of death, and fade sooner than the summer cloud. What do we see when we look down? The hurry and bustle of thousands who, along with us, are hasting to be rich. The physicians, driving to homes that are full of pain, and grief, and fear. The mourners going about the streets. And the shadow of God's curse on sin resting darkly everywhere. It is this downward, earthward looking that makes us so weak: so weak as those who, being made in the image of God, ought to be strong in the strength of God.

II. GOD-DRAWN, WE LOOK UP, AND SO GROW STRONG. God is ever calling. If we would stop and hush awhile, we might hear the voice of God in our souls, ever saying, "Look up! Look up!" Observe the gracious mission God has entrusted to the mountains.

1. Looking up, we find nothing of man's, it is all of God up above.

2. Looking up, we feel how pure God's snow is.

3. Looking up, we find God's clouds are glorified.

4. Looking up, we may hear the voices of the hills saying, "The mists and the storms are all outside us; they are not us. We abide firm through all the changes. The mists pass swiftly about us, and pass away. The storms wildly rage about us, but the winds die down, the rains stream off, the thunder-voice is quieted, and we come forth again, only cleansed and purified." It is a message from God for us troubled, sorrow-stricken, storm-tossed men and women.

5. And the hills seem also to say, "Up above is more sunshine than storm. Down below, man's smoke lies heavy over the towns, and God's clouds seem dark; but it is almost always sunshine up here." These are the messages that seem to come from the hills. "Look up! Look up morel"

(Robert Tuck, B. A.)

I. WHO IS IT THAT ASCENDS? — The Christian ascends.

II. WHITHER? Heavenwards: to the everlasting hills.

III. FROM WHENCE? From this vale of tears.

IV. BY WHAT STEPS? By faith and repentance.

(C. A. Fowler, M. A.)

I imagine the psalmist had either dwelt under the mountains, or had climbed some of their steep sides. Palestine, it is true, was not a mountainous country, like Switzerland; but still, it had its mountains, notably Hermon, which is over 9,000 feet above sea-level, and usually covered with a cap of snow. In a small way the psalmist might have been, probably was, a mountaineer, and so knew the unique feelings which come to one in lofty places. The special point I want to enforce is this — that what the mountains are to the lower, that God is to the higher life of man.

I. INVIGORATION COMES FROM THE MOUNTAINS. Every one is conscious of this. In the valleys there is beat and the languor it produces. On the mountains there may be heat from the sunlight, but there is the tonic which comes from glacier or snow-field. In the valley the air is heavy and depressing. On the mountains the air is light and exhilarating. And so exertion which is impossible down below, is possible and easy higher up. And what the mountains are to the body God is to the soul. He is the true invigorator. In Him is our help found. Like the body, the soul needs invigoration, and that invigoration is found only in God. Immunity from evil comes only from an invigorated spiritual nature — and such a nature comes only from the sense of God.

II. THERE COME FROM THE MOUNTAINS WIDE OUTLOOKS. Down in the valleys the outlooks are narrow. You can see the valley sides, and it may be you can catch the sight of some solitary peak shining with snow, but all is limited. You cannot look into the valleys near, or see the peaks that lie beyond. But move upward to the hills which frame in the valley, or, better still, climb some lofty peak, and the whole land lies before you — peak after peak, valley after valley, till you are almost overpowered with the sight. And it is so when we lift our eyes to God. With Him in our heart we get wide outlooks. Look at the world from the standpoint of God. Lord Salisbury once advised people who were talking ignorantly about foreign affairs, and who knew little of the geography of the world, to turn to large maps. I venture to bid those depressed at heart to take wider outlooks — to come up out of the valley where the little drama of the present is being enacted, and remember that there is still One "who sitteth upon the circle of the earth," and who will guide the world, in spite of its aberrations, into the way of righteousness and peace.

III. THE MOUNTAINS MAY REMIND US OF THE LOWLINESS OF MAN AND THE GREATNESS OF GOD. Down in the cities of the world man seems the great factor. He is in evidence everywhere. His works face us at every turn. But up among the mountains man and his work fade from view, and God and His work alone are in evidence. God is nearer to us in flower and tree, valley and mountain, than in any buildings made with hands. And the voices which have gone deepest into the hearts of this generation are not the voices of men who dwelt amid the crowded haunts of men, but of those who in the quietness of the country heard the voice of God. Wordsworth amid the dales of Cumberland; Tennyson amid the heather-clad slopes of Surrey, or by the sea at Farringford; and, before and beyond all these, the Christ Himself, who said to His disciples, "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile."

(W. G. Horder.)

Hills have a fascination for those brought up among them. How Israel in Babylon sighed for their much-loved hills! How the Swiss away from their own country pine for the mountains of their native land! Jesus loved the hills. His chosen walks were among them. The hills were His sanctuary for prayer, His temple for worship; from the hills of Capernaum He preached; the crest of Tabor was the scene of His transfiguration; on the hill of Calvary He was crucified; from Olivet He ascended. There is an affinity between souls and hills. Especially for those who have become acquainted with their own solemn depths and sublime heights. The outward world tends to awaken the sympathy of the thoughtful for the true order which has been lost. It pictures to him both sides of his nature — his real and his ideal life, the life he lives, and the life of which he dreams, and for which he prays. The hills represent heights that he ought to attain — the deep places, depths of degradation into which he has fallen. Though imprisoned by a sinful darkness, and fettered by a chain of evil habits, the hills will not allow him wholly to forget his lost heights of freedom, peace, and blessedness, to which, now and again, he fain would, but feels he cannot return. The way of ascent is difficult. There is a broad and easy way, but it leads to deeper depths and heavier bonds. But ha the deepest depths, and under the heaviest burdens, he ever and again remembers the heights, though the corresponding life may, long since, have been transferred to his dreams. There are no heights like those to which the soul rises ha the exercise of faith — heights incredible to the senses. By faith, we finite creatures, with a sense-experience only of the finite, nevertheless apprehend the infinite; by faith, we creatures of "flesh and blood," shut in by the material, discover our only true home to be in the spiritual; by faith, we mortals, in a world of mortality, anticipate immortality; by faith, we poor slaves of a manifold bondage look for perfect liberty; by faith, we, the offspring of earthly parentage, claim God for our Father, and Heaven for our home. These are some of the heights of which the hills are representative, and to which they point, hills of hope, and help for our original and eternal nature. From "the hill of the Lord" we receive help for the valley. If we look up we shall receive light for our way, and be led in a plain path. The hill of the Lord is to the pilgrim who looks up what the compass is to the mariner who finds his course by it through the troubled waters of the pathless sea. For those who look to Him, the Lord opens up "a way in the desert," a path through the woods, and turns the sea into dry land. "In the presence of their enemies He prepares them a table" and causes them to "lie down in peace," and goes before them in the way — a guardian, guiding Presence — "a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night." In this short psalm the writer is so full of the protection and help of Jehovah that he cannot find terms enough in which to express the rich fulness of his icy and confidence, Fifteen times in eight verses he assures Israel of the "help, keeping," and "preservation" of God — at all times; under all circumstances; for every one, with respect to his whole nature and history; for time and eternity. Oh, what hills of hope and help there are for the upward use of our eyes, altitudes of our own nature as seen in Jesus, which, like Alpine summits, far above every storm-swept height, look down in the mute eloquence and sublime repose of their eternal state invitingly on all below! The men who permanently bless the world are men who look up, and receive that which, travelling down "the starry road of the Infinite's abode," fills their eyes with reverence and a grand hope, and inspires their souls with a divine disdain of earthly goods and worldly honours, as being unworthy of man's "chief end." This habit of looking up will teach us to understand the use of trouble in the valley. Let us learn to regard all that troubles and disturbs us in our health, our home, our circumstances as the means by which God calls upon us to look up, — to disengage ourselves from earthly entanglements, — to prepare to ascend. By the trouble to which we are born, He seeks to wean us from the love of earth, that He may woo us to the love of heavenly things and the spiritual life of our eternal home.

(W. Pulsford, D. D.)

This verse would be a suitable inscription for a church entrance. It is a scripture to be repeated when walking to the temple. If ever the eyes are strained towards heaven, it is by rose who go to the sanctuary, or long to do so. Yet it is possible to join the assembly of God's saints, and not lift up our eyes to the hills. Some who make excursions seem to see all the meaning of their journey in what they take with them, others go chiefly to refresh themselves in the contemplation of God's flowers and trees, rocks and rivers, valleys and hills. Of travellers climbing together to a mountain summit, there are those who, on reaching it, as if they had done all, lie down till the moment for returning; while their wiser companions, as if there were something for which they had been at the trouble of ascending, stand on the top, and look forth earnestly. They admire the prospect, and mark the direction of a more lofty mountain which they intend to gain, and how the road lies by which they will have to travel thither. Our feet are to visit the hill of the earthly Zion, that our hearts may get a better view of the mountain of the Lord's house in the heavenly country. The object in attending the services of the sanctuary is to "hear of heaven and learn the way."

(E. J. Robinson.)

Hills make us look up. It is well they do so, for all that is necessary for our life here comes from above. An artist whose eyes have been much accustomed to look up, has painted some very beautiful pictures of sunset skies, which astonish many people who visit the Kensington Museum in London. They have never seen such gorgeous sunsets, and for the good reason that they have not looked for them. We lose much by fixing our eyes upon the things beneath and seldom looking up. A king once asked a duke if he had seen an eclipse of the sun on the previous day. "No, sir," replied the nobleman, "I have so much business on earth that I have no time to look up." By looking up the wise men of the East were led to the Saviour, who then lay an infant in Bethlehem's manger. By looking up many a downcast heart has rejoiced to see the morning's sun rise, which seemed to speak to them of brighter days yet to come. But there is another kind of looking up that is necessary to give joy and true satisfaction to the soul. The high hills, the lovely skies, and the glowing sunsets should lead us to look higher up still — even to the Lord who made the heavens and the earth. This looking consists of real faith in God and in His promises. It is the soul looking beyond itself and all that is earthly to the Rock that is higher than we are. "Looking unto Jesus" is the secret of all true joy in the Christian life. It is as we look up with the eye of faith that the beauty of the Saviour is reflected upon us, and we are made like Him. But the hills have a few more lessons for us.

1. They give us a taste for what is beautiful. Some of the prettiest scenery in the world is amongst the hills. It is there we find "flowery glens and mossy dells, where happy birds in song agree." It is there we behold the delightful waterfalls and other beauties of nature. We have read of a traveller who went to America to see the Falls of Niagara, and who, after a long, weary journey, was within a few miles of them, and inquired of a man if the rumbling noise he heard was that of the Falls. The man replied that perhaps it was, but he had never been there, although all his life he had lived so near them. But it is not always that people have the time and the means for travelling, and so they are to be excused. There is, however, no excuse for people being ignorant of the beauties of the Kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit opens the eyes of all who come to Christ to see spiritual sights which gladden the heart and prepare the soul for heaven. Travellers tell us of beauty in other lands far surpassing anything we have ever seen here. And there is also a heavenly land which is so fair that its glory can never be told us, as we have no language to express it or mind to conceive it.

2. The hills are very valuable to us. Their lofty summits cause the moisture of the air to descend rain or snow to refresh and make the earth fruitful. Then they give motion to the water, and thus keep it from growing stagnant or impure. Otherwise the water would have disease and death in it. Our souls, too, require heavenly rains to descend to refresh them, and to make them bear the fruits of the Spirit. We need the pure river of the water of life to flow through our souls to keep them in the love of God.

3. Hills praise God. They are commanded to do so in Scripture. One way by which they praise God is by producing holy desires in the hearts of men. They often cause people to think of the greatness and the glory of God. And they daily witness to His power and wisdom. We also are commanded to praise God, and we can do it consciously, which the hills are unable to do. We ought to praise God by the adoration of our hearts, the fruit of our lips, and the devotion of our lives.

4. The hills and the love of God are contrasted (Isaiah 54:10). How blessed it is to know that when the hills shall have passed away there is something that shall abide! Yes; the love of Jesus shall remain, and we shall dwell in the enjoyment of His glorious presence. His love was manifested upon a hill, which of all hills should never be forgotten — the hill at Calvary. This hill speaks of the amazing love of God in giving up His only Son to die for us, and of the matchless love of Christ in bearing our sins in His own body on the tree.

(John Mitchell.)

In one of Dr. Miller's helpful anecdotes we are told of a Christian woman, a busy editorial worker, whose eyes began to trouble her, until she was obliged to go to an oculist to see what was the matter with them. She told him she thought she needed a new pair of glasses. The oculist told her that what she needed was not new glasses, but rest for the eyes. That, she told him, was impossible. Her work compelled her to sit all day bending over a desk, reading and writing. The wise oculist asked her where she lived, and found it was in full sight of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Alleghanies. "Go home," he said, "and do your work as usual, but every hour or so leave your desk, and go and stand on your porch and look at the mountains. The far-away look will rest your eyes after the long strain of reading manuscripts and proof-sheets." That is what Sabbaths are for — the far-away looks. We all need them — an hour or two on Sunday, if no more. Then — and here is the lesson for many a busy housemother who must prepare meals even on Sunday for her hungry children, who must often nurse the sick ones or stay at home with the little ones — if anything calls one away from the rest of soul and body, remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said that God wants mercy (kindness, goodness, helpfulness) even more than sacrifice.

From whence cometh my help.
Let me speak of the helpfulness of the mountains as a sign, not a measure, but an imperfect sign of the helpfulness of God. The most sheltered spots of earth are mountain guarded. When we rejoice in the valley, let us remember only the mountain made it possible. Is it protected from devastating storms such as involve the plains in their fury? It is because the mountain has guarded it. It has broken the hurricane's wing and the cyclone's wheel. Is it alive with meadow streams that sing their gladsome song to the green grasses that bend over to listen? It is because the mountains sent the streamlets flashing down, pure as crystal and full of tonic for every living thing in the valley. Has there been an abundance of rain? The mountain nurtured the storm full of menace, but so full of blessing that when it saw the fields suffering for its baptism, it opened its veins of life with the lightning's lance, and became balm and benison to the blighted fields. Not only so, but the mountains give their fresh wealth to supply new soil to the valley. The storms that scar their old sides are ploughing up fresh soil for the cornfields and the valley. And the streams are the carriers that, plunging gaily from steep to steep, carry it down. The Alleghanies help to make the Ohio Valley. The Rockies enrich the Missouri, the mountains of Central Africa make the exhaustless granary of the Nile delta. Oh! the help there is in the stern hills Oh! the blessing God is to this low world! How He comes to shield from storms. How He sends upon us the living streams of His truth. Yes, how He bends Himself to be the nourishment and strength of His people! Consider the influence of the hills on the civilization of the world. They have been the nurseries of heroism, of physical and moral strength. The early Turanians, who displaced the stagnant barbarism of Asia with a rude vigour, descended for their work from the mountain ranges of Siberia. The Modes and Persians, who came down like messengers of Divine judgment on the effeminate luxury and showy splendour of Babylon, came from the hill country. The Spartans who filled the Thermopylae Pass were mountain men. The Waldenses, who held their own for liberty, held it in poverty and pain among the pinnacles of Piedmont — held it against all the cultured and disciplined power of the cities on the plains. Their natures were as rugged as the grey Alps around them. It is a grand preparation for heroism to be obliged to fight life's battle under the stern conditions of the mountains. They do not smile on easy living. They are severe masters, but they enforce the lesson. He who has overcome the mountains has overcome many other things at the same time. But I do not believe that the chief value of mountains as promoters of heroism is of a physical sort. At last heroism has a moral base. Mountains make tough animals. They are the habitation of daring wild beasts, but they also work on those moral qualities which make great patriots. They affect men's thoughts. They appeal to a man's reverence. They overawe him with power. They work on his conscience. To face Mont Blanc is itself a sort of judgment day. It says "God." There is absolutely no support for tired human spirits but in the idea of God, and that which that idea implies. To the mountain of Sinai you must look for the quickening of conscience; to the mountain of Calvary for salvation from sin. As the mountains lift themselves above the world in a "stillness of perpetual benediction," so God rises to our faith and hope above these storm-driven plains of time. His Fatherhood overhangs us like a perpetual benediction. He helps us with a help that is quite sufficient, and that sustains us amid all circumstances; yea, with a help that makes us indifferent to circumstance. To men accustomed only to the light of reason and calculation it is difficult to present the spiritual help of the Lord. It cannot be explained. But it is the one profound fact that makes the difference between the submissive and meek-brewed; yea, the rejoicing saint and the complaining and rebellious sinner. I have often asked friends, "What is the source of the contented lives the Swiss peasants live amid their secluding mountains?" Contented and peaceful they undeniably are, and that, too, in poverty and toil from beginning to end. It seems as if the genii of the mountains from unseen sources beyond the storms brought unfailing peace and comfort as the streams that spring from the snows water their flocks and their pastures. The reservoir never fails. Now, God's sustaining grace is like those streams of Alpine blessing. You cannot quite trace; you certainly cannot explain it. The child of God who perhaps has nothing but poverty and pain, misery and misfortune, as the world reckons, somehow holds a boundless peace, and the martyr who smiles in his agonies is not a more conspicuous example of this strange unseen help of God than is the quiet patient soul who, in ordinary ways of uneventful living, holds a steadfast faith and a happy hope in God.

(C. L. Thompson, D. D.)

It, was "help" and only "help," which he looked for from his God; and help is not that which dispenses with exertion on our part, but rather that which supposes such exertion. Helping a man is not the doing everything for him, and leaving him nothing to do for himself; but rather the assisting him in his efforts, — making those efforts effectual, when perhaps without aid they would be insufficient and frustrated. It is help, and nothing more than help, which is promised throughout the Scriptures. "Help us, O God of our salvation," is the burden of the supplications of David; and St. Paul, when he would found an argument for boldness in approaching the mercy-seat, on the fact of our having "an High Priest who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities," does not apply it to the expecting more than mercy and help — "That we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." There cannot be a more dangerous delusion than the supposing that the operations of Divine grace are such as to supersede the necessity for exertion, or such (so to speak) as will make us religious in spite of ourselves. The Spirit will not force us to pray; but if we yield to His impulse, and endeavour to pray, He will "Help our infirmities," and enable us to pray effectually. He will not make it impossible for us to be overcome of temptation; but if we strive against it, He will so come to our assistance as to ensure us the victory. He will not bring to maturity the virtues implanted by Himself without requiring from us any of the processes of moral husbandry; whilst the showers and the sunshine are altogether His, the labour and the tillage must be ours.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

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