In the years of youth, when the days are full and our energy is seemingly inexhaustible, we do not often consider that we are pilgrims on this earth. But we should. This world is not our home, but we look forward to God taking us home to Himself in heaven. December is a unique month: the old year casts its evening shadows, and the first glimmerings of the new year appear. As 2019 sets and 2020 dawns, it is appropriate that we consider Psalm 121:1–2.
Psalm 121 is one of the psalms entitled “A song of degrees.” Such a psalm was sung during special pilgrimages to Jerusalem. You must imagine the pilgrim-psalmist traveling to Jerusalem. As he nears the city, he sees the mountains around Jerusalem and sings, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord [Jehovah], which made heaven and earth.” Young person, at the close of this year and the beginning of another in your pilgrim-life on earth, your confession is that your help comes from Jehovah.
From Jehovah comes your help. Stop reading for a moment. Meditate. Are you breathlessly amazed? From Jehovah comes your help!
This Jehovah is infinitely powerful. Psalm 121:2 says that He made heaven and earth. Let us never read Genesis 1 with anything less than a sense of awe. There was no light. God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light! What power that is. He is almighty Jehovah. He made heaven and earth, with all that is in them. He made heaven: not only the dwelling place of God, the angels, and the redeemed church, but also the sky overhead. We are told that the sun in our solar system could fit 9.3 billion times into the biggest star discovered to date. Our Milky Way galaxy, itself so vast that it boggles the mind, is just one out of more than one billion galaxies so far known. God is the Maker of it all.
That Jehovah is powerful is also indicated in verse 1: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills….” As the psalmist-pilgrim made his way to Jerusalem and saw before him the hills surrounding the city, he meditated upon a portion of neighboring Psalm 125: “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth even for ever” (v. 2). The psalmist saw the tall, broad mountains before him, and was struck by how mighty they were—a dim shadow of Jehovah, the infinitely powerful God who is round about His people.
This Jehovah is unchanging. Before delivering His people from Egypt, God revealed the meaning of His name “Jehovah”: “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Ex. 3:14). You are always changing. This life is one, continuous blur. But Jehovah never changes. As the psalmist neared Jerusalem and lifted his eyes to those hills surrounding the city, it must have seemed that those hills had been there forever, so firmly rooted. But what only seemed true of those hills, was actually true of Jehovah—He who is round about His people never changes.
This Jehovah is the covenant God. Jehovah is the covenant name of God. He sovereignly establishes a relationship of friendship with His elect people in Jesus Christ. As the psalmist walked toward Jerusalem and raised his eyes to the mountains round about the city, he was reminded that Jehovah was round about His people—a covenant idea. Jehovah is with His people. Situated between those hills was Jerusalem, and in Jerusalem was the temple, where God dwelled with His people in fellowship. He dwelled with His people then, and dwells with us now, on the basis of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Is it not astounding that Jehovah has, in 2019, and will, in 2020, dwell with you?
From Jehovah—infinitely powerful, unchanging, covenant Jehovah—comes your help.
The psalmist needed help from Jehovah. Not only was the journey to the city quite possibly a long one, but the path could be marked with treacherous terrain, dangerous animals, and threatening robbers. Perhaps the pilgrim was also thinking on a more national scale of the enemies that Israel had faced in its past, and Israel’s need for help in the midst of all these attacks.
We also need help from Jehovah. As we traverse this life on the way home, innumerable threats and dangers face us. There is persecution—and such suffering is not a mere possibility for a disciple of Jesus, but a certainty. There is the work of Satan, seeking to bring to naught God’s work in you. There are the temptations that the foes hurl at you: tempting you with the allurements of this world; tempting you to become angry with or bitter toward God in adversity. There is your own sinful flesh, and we know how often we are seduced by and comply with the lusts of our flesh. We have an urgent need for help from Jehovah.
This help we need, and this help Jehovah alone gives. Jehovah’s help is His working for the good of His people. The opposite of helping is destroying and tearing down. He destroys and tears down the wicked. Beautifully, He does not destroy and tear us down, but He works all things for our advantage. That is help. But Psalm 121 tells us more about this help: Jehovah works for the good of His people in that He protects or guards them. Observe how many times “keepeth,” “keeper,” or “preserve” occur in the psalm. Jehovah protects us—that is help.
This help (protection) includes the watchful eye of Jehovah. If you are shopping, and your parents allow you to wander off with your three-year-old brother, they are expecting you to protect him. Protecting him means you keep a watchful eye on him. Jehovah watches over and attentively cares for you, young person. His eye of love, grace, and mercy is upon you. This meticulous care knows no end. What the psalmist says is personal: “My help cometh from the Lord….” His eye is upon you. Jehovah, who made a star so big that it can fit over 9 billion suns into it—cares for you. Staggering. He is able to watch over you, being God almighty, and He is willing to do so, being covenant Jehovah.
If Jehovah’s help is His protecting or guarding us, does this mean that no evils will befall us in this life? Of course not! We will experience suffering and adversity here below. But Jehovah protects and preserves, which is to say, nothing will separate us from His love in Christ Jesus our Lord; it is to say that nothing shall bring to naught His work in us; it is to say that He will avert all evil, or turn it to our profit; it is to say that God is, for the sake of Christ His Son, our God and our Father, and He will make whatever evils He sends upon us, in this valley of tears, turn out to our advantage; it is to say that He so preserves us, that without the will of our heavenly Father not a hair can fall from our head, yea, that all things must be subservient to our salvation. And remember, the psalmist is personal: “My help cometh from the Lord…..” The infinitely powerful, unchangeable God, the I AM THAT I AM—guards you. He is able to protect and preserve you, being God almighty, and He is willing to do so, being covenant Jehovah. What a comfort this is as we look to the year ahead!
God is our help in Jesus Christ. God sent forth His Son for us poor sinners. Jesus satisfied fully for all our sins. He vanquished all His and our enemies. He arose from the grave. He ascended into heaven. And what does our Lord do at God’s right hand? He gathers, defends, and preserves His church! He defends and preserves you. And if God should send forth His Son for us sinners, He will certainly work all things for our good. He will work all things for our advantage, for Jesus’ sake. He guards us, in Christ. His providence is a gracious providence toward us, in Christ.
The faith-filled psalmist, in whom Jehovah was working, says, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills..” That is, he will lift his eyes to Jehovah, who is round about His people. This is what you say too, young people: “I will look for help from this Jehovah who surrounds His people with His powerful and loving arms; He is my Keeper and Savior in Jesus Christ.”
Then, the psalmist asks a question. Psalm 121:1 ends with a question, although it appears as a statement in your Bible. You could read verse 1 this way: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills; from where does my help come?” The psalmist does not ask this question because he is suddenly confused or doubting. Rather, he asks this question with the design of drawing out of himself a rich confession of who his Helper is. There is something about a question that grabs at the soul and allows for quiet meditation. Young people, when you are afraid, tempted, weary in the battle, or in the heat of adversity in this coming year, ask this question: from where does my help come?
The answer to this question is a rich confession: “My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” Personal confession! Beautiful confession! Your confession in the year ahead.