I’m sure that many of you reading my last blog will identify with an uncertain future through some adversity that has come your way. In fact, few of us reaching our later years will have avoided the problems of life that afflict us all.
In my daily reading recently, I came across the well-known Psalm 121. The first verse in the King James Version of the Bible has created a misleading notion: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help,” suggesting that our help comes from the hills.
In King David’s time, the inhabitants of a besieged city would search the surrounding hills for a relieving army to break the siege against them. Elisha faced a similar problem in Dothan as marauding Arameans surrounded the city to take him prisoner. You can read the whole story in 2 Kings 6:8–23.
Elisha’s servant thought all was lost, until Elisha prayed: “’LORD, open his eyes so he may see.’ Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha,” 2 Kings 6:17. The Lord’s army was there to deliver them.
Today, in adversity, we are unlikely to look to the hills for help, but we have many other avenues that we might consider our source of relief. You know what they are in your particular circumstance. But the first verse of our Psalm reads differently in most later translations, turning the last phrase into a question. The NIV reads: “I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?
The next verse answers, “My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Clearly not from the hills! Nor, I assume from the many other places they or we might look. But does that mean other resources are unnecessary or illegitimate?
You may have heard the story of the man caught in a flood, who sat on his roof waiting for God to rescue him. A boat came, but he refused to board it, for, he said, “The Lord will deliver me.” A helicopter lowered a rope, but he brushed it aside, saying, “No, the Lord will deliver me.” The man eventually drowned, and on reaching heaven he asked God why He had not rescued him. God replied, “I sent you a boat and a helicopter . . .”
Let’s put human resources in their place. Medical, financial, and social support agencies, or others who console us, are God’s provision for us—in addition to any supernatural intervention by God. He is our total provider; He is “the Maker of heaven and earth,” the Creator of all things.
Let’s look again at Psalm 121, the source of our help; but this time reading the whole Psalm. The idea that no harm will come to us, does not necessarily dispense with the idea of adversity, but rather that during it, we continue safe in his care—for time and eternity.
I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going, both now and forevermore.