Summer Daily Devotional - Psalm 121
Lift Your Eyes
Have you ever felt helpless? I don’t mean helpless in the sense of, say, being a Mariner fan halfway through the season (sorry, I love them too…just being real!). I mean helpless in the sense of having a pit in your stomach…like you don’t know the outcome of your situation.
The Psalmist begins by saying, “I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
I often read this verse picturing the last scene of Two Towers in The Lord of the Rings. After a grueling five days of hard fighting and heavy losses, the defenders of Helm’s Deep are completely and totally helpless. Wave after wave of blood-thirsty Orcs pounds the gates of Hornburg until they are breached and the fortress is penetrated. An all-out assault from the forces of Saruman flood in upon the refugees of Rohan. All seems lost. King Theoden looks at Aragorn and says, “How could it come to this? So much death. What can man do against such reckless hate?”
In one last heroic effort, Aragorn and Theoden lead a calvary charge for death and glory. It’s at this moment they remember the words of Gandalf: “Look to my coming on the first light of the fifth day. At dawn, look to the east.” They lift their eyes to the top of the mountains to see Gandalf with an army so vast it cannot be counted. In the most epic of all battles scenes, Gandalf’s army charges the defense lines of Saruman’s Urik-hai and overwhelms the enemy, sending them into Fangorn forest where the fleeing Orcs are crushed.
For David, up until Psalm 120, life has felt like the scene described above: helpless and overwhelmed. But the Psalms of Ascents (chapters 120-134) start to take a different trajectory, and it all begins by looking to the mountains to see where his help comes from.
When the Psalmist asks, “Where will my help come from?” it’s a legitimate question. It’s a question all of humanity asks in times of crisis, in times of need, in times of distress, in times of fear, in times of helplessness. Our only problem is that we look to each other for deliverance. We need to set our eyes a little higher.
But he also follows it up with a statement of confidence. It’s almost as if he’s saying, “Do you know where your help comes from? Because I do. My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
He’s declaring that his help is from the One who is sovereign over all things because he made all things. And the God who made all things is the one who carefully watches even the footsteps of His people, ensuring their safe passage through treacherous paths. God doesn’t sleep. He doesn’t need to rest or take a break. Meaning, your life won’t spin out of control one day because He’s snoozing. He’s the One who watches over you while you sleep. He keeps you safe in the night, safe in the day, safe when you go, safe when you return. He’s your shelter from any storm that hits, no matter its severity, no matter its duration, no matter its impact. He is The Protector who preserves your life.
Count how many times the word “protector” shows up in this short Psalm. It’s repeated for emphasis until we get it in our head and heart that our God protects and keeps His own, “both now and forevermore.”
So when you find yourself asking, like Theoden, “How could it come to this?” Remember, look up and keep looking up. Help has already come, and it came from a small mountain in Jerusalem where a battle was fought and blood was spilled to purchase your freedom from a Saruman-like enemy. And one day we will weep and shout for joy as the fleeing enemy is crushed once and for all under the feet of Jesus.