“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.”
1983—another calendar year. What shall we say?
We must say something. We cannot ignore that 1982 is past and that another year has begun. We know that time marches on. What will this new calendar year bring to us? Indeed, what shall we say?
Shall we join the world in its appraisal, in its earthy and carnal hopes? Have we expressed the wish that a happy New Year may be our lot, that good may come our way, namely earthly good, natural peace and prosperity, etc?
Or have we taken upon our lips, carrying it in our hearts, the confession of the psalmist: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth”? We surely need help. We know not what lies before us. And we surely cannot walk this pathway alone. Need we emphasize that all carnal hopes and aspirations are utter foolishness? Is there any help except from the hills? Only Jehovah our God can help us.
Our help—for what?
This is surely the idea of this word of God. Some translations read the text as follows: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills. From whence cometh my help?” Our King James version reads: “I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” There is, principally, no difference. We have in this a Hebraism a common Hebrew mannerism called a parallelism, in which two expressions simply explain each other. To say that we look to the hills from which cometh our help is explained by the latter half of the text: “My help cometh from the Lord which made heaven and earth.”
How desperately we need this help! Notice what we read in the verses 3a, 7 and 8. We need this help also surely in the year that lies before us, that we may continue enroute to the City that has foundations whose Builder and Maker is God. This is what it is all about. We are pilgrims and strangers in the earth. Here in this life we have no continuing city. 1982 belongs to the past, never to be recalled except in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. And it is surely our calling to be enroute to that City. Always we must have that City before us. Never must we cleave to the things that are below; never must we conduct ourselves as if we have an abiding place here, setting our hearts and affections upon the things of this present time. Always we must walk as pilgrims, traveling in a tent, which implies that we are strangers in the midst of the world, far from home, enroute to that better land, the heavenly City that has foundations. Always all our activity, in the home and in the church and in the school, must be such as to impress upon our souls this pilgrimage. Doing what our hands find to do, but conducting ourselves antithetically, we must be a spiritually different people with the longing of our hearts and minds upon that which shall be in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Unto that end we look unto the hills from whence cometh our help. The Word of God here speaks of the hills. This, we understand, is symbolism. The Word of God is rich in symbolism. We cannot treat this symbolism in detail here. The sun and moon and stars, the world of colors, plants, numbers, animals, all speak a tremendously rich symbolical language. All of creation was created by our God as a picture of the heavenly reality. That which eye cannot see and the ear cannot hear and which can never enter into the heart of man is held before us in an earthly language and picture which is adapted to our earthy senses. The ocean, too, speaks a tremendous language. The tempestuous, storm-tossed sea is a symbol of the wicked, as they are constantly tossed to and fro, never finding peace and rest. So also the quiet, deep sea, with its endless horizons and unfathomable depths, is a picture of the infinite, boundless, fathomless faithfulness and love of our God. Indeed, the heavens declare the glory of our God and the firmament sheweth His handiwork. Here we have the symbolism of the hills or mountains. Indeed, the cold, snow-topped mountains are also a symbol of the proud, the lifeless, and arrogant wicked. But the mountains are also a symbol of Jehovah—their vastness, greatness, age-long unchangeableness speak to us of the power, eternity, and unchangeableness of our God. Our God is the Rock, everlastingly the same. That this is specifically meant here by the Scriptural symbolism of the mountains is also evident from the fact that the psalmist here speaks of the Lord, Jehovah, and Jehovah is the I AM, eternally the same. Indeed, I will look to the hills.
Hence, I will expect my help from the hills. Of course, this does not mean that I will expect my help from these hills or mountains as such. It does mean that I will expect all my help from the Lord, Jehovah Who made the heavens and the earth. I will expect all my help, and then all my help from the living God, Jehovah, the Unchangeable Rock. I will not depend upon myself, my own strength. I will not strive to reach the City that has foundations in my own power, by mine own wisdom and ingenuity. All my expectation will be fixed upon the Lord. He will preserve me from all evil; He will keep my feet from slipping; He will preserve my soul; He will never suffer my foot to be moved; He will keep me in the way that leads me to my heavenly City; He will preserve me in all my earthly pilgrimage.
How we need this help!
Perhaps we do not need this aid? Perhaps we are not even enroute to Zion, the City of our God, the God of our salvation. Are we carnal, and do we love the things that are below? Then we are interested only in this world, how far we can advance and promote our own interests here below; then our eyes, of course, are not lifted up to the hills, and our help does not come from Jehovah Who made heaven and earth. This being the case, this word of God means nothing to us. Or perhaps we think that we can walk this way alone, in our own strength. Oh, we may then we willing to concede that the Lord can help us, be of assistance to us. Perhaps we will acknowledge that the Lord is our Guide, that Jesus is our Example, that as our Teacher He may instruct us, show us how to conduct ourselves, if only it is left to us to adopt His teachings, to take hold of Him, and it is then left to us to be guided and led by Him. Or perhaps we may think that we are sufficiently strong in ourselves to ward off the attacks of the enemy, to endure all temptations, to wage successful warfare against all the evil powers that are confronting us. If such thoughts dwell in our souls, how terribly wrong and mistaken we are! Indeed, the history of the church of God is replete with the examples of those who would stand in their own strength and were wrecked enroute to the heavenly City; the sands of time are filled with these human wrecks.
Indeed, we will experience the need of this help, if only we understand the perils that confront us and if we understand ourselves.
Let us face these perils. On the one hand, our enemy is unalterably and unequivocally opposed to us. He hates the living God and His cause. He is at enmity against the Lord, has but one controlling interest and that is the destruction of His cause in the midst of the world. However beautiful and humanistic he may present himself, he has no rest until the cause we represent is completely and forever destroyed. It would be a fatal error on our part if we imagine we can in any way walk or cooperate with him. On the other hand, we should also note his power. His forces represent the powers of the air, the legions of these spirits under the direction of a very capable and brilliant genius, Beelzebub, the father of the lie. Among his forces are enrolled also countless millions of men, and they have access to all the riches and resources of this world. His powers are overwhelming. He goes about as a roaring lion or as an angel of light; he can attack you and destroy your body; or he will confront you with radio and television, and all the literature of this present evil world. Do we need this help?
And who are we? How small we are, numerically, and also in resources. . .! And we ourselves are so weak! We have the enemy of darkness in our own hearts and lives. We carry the enemy within the camp; the fifth columnist lurks in our own bosom. We have but a small principle of the new and heavenly obedience. We are weak, wholly impotent, without strength. And even if we could offer successful resistance, who can guarantee our safe arrival in the City that is above, even through death and the grave?
How blessed is this help!
First, because of His power.
The Lord is the Maker of heaven and earth. He is the Creator of all, our almighty God. From Him we may surely expect all our help. As the Creator of all He is surely above all things; He holds all things in the palm of His hand. This surely means, also as far as 1983 is concerned, that no situation can possibly arise with which He cannot cope, against which He cannot protect us; indeed, the entire wicked world He carries in the palm of His hand.
Secondly, He is unchangeably faithful. Notice: the Lord, Jehovah made heaven and. earth. Jehovah is the I AM, the Rock, everlastingly the same. He is the I AM, eternally the same within Himself, and also in relation to His people. And He is the Creator. This does not merely mean that our covenant God is Creator. But it also means that He created all things as our covenant God. Hence, He made all things and this world with a view to the next, this earthly as a symbol of the heavenly.
From Him we may expect all our help. He will surely finish His work; He will never suffer our foot to be moved; He will surely preserve our soul; He will guide us safely through, cause all things to work together for our good.
This is Jehovah’s promise to us.
To this we may and must hold.
Indeed, look to the hills, to the Lord, your covenant God, also in 1983.