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Relationships Matter 

27-03-2020

When we read verse 1, the Psalmist speaks of lifting his eyes up to the mountains.  For us, we often think of a majestic, inspiring view, a beautiful vista of snow-capped peaks.  But for a traveler in ancient Israel, looking up at the mountains would probably evoke the exact opposite response!  For a pilgrim travelling to Jerusalem, the mountains were dangerous.  They were hard to pass through, there may be robbers hiding or wild animals.

            Another dynamic at play with looking up the mountains was a religious one.  Throughout the Old Testament, we read of good kings who tore down the “high places” and evil kings who left the “high places” or even built up “high places.”  What were these high places? They were places of Canaanite worship!  They were places of idolatry and centres of pagan power.  And they were up in the mountains!

            So as the Psalmist writes, “I life my eyes up to the hills, where does my help come from?” He is not looking up at being inspired with awe. Rather, he is being filled with fear.  In response to the danger represented by the hills or mountains, where does his help come from?  His help comes from the LORD, from Yahweh, the God of Israel, the God who formed heaven and earth, who formed those very mountains! And that knowledge gives the Psalmist confidence in the face of fear.

            These days a lot of us are looking down at our phones, or maybe up at computer screens and TVs.  And we are afraid!  We see danger.  We are afraid of the pandemic. We are afraid of getting sick. We are afraid of empty shelves. We are afraid of losing our jobs. We are afraid of hospitals filled with sick people.  Or, maybe we’re not afraid of these things, maybe we’re afraid of losing our autonomy. Maybe we’re afraid of losing the freedom to do what we want, when we want, with who we want.  We’re afraid of missing out on what we would have done if COVID 19 had never existed.

            Let me ask you, where does your help come from?   If you are a follower of Christ, then your help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.  Do you think God is baffled by the Corona virus?  Do you think God is worried?  Do you think God can’t take care of you if you lose your job, or get sick?

            The Psalmist continues in v.3-4 to describe God’s care for his people. God won’t let your foot slip on the mountain path.  He doesn’t sleep on the job.  He doesn’t fall asleep at the switch.  God watches over his people diligently and without distraction.

            Verses 5 and 6 describe the breadth of God’s care for his beloved children.  He is the “shade at your right hand,” which is a powerful image in a region of hot sun and arid landscapes.  He protects his people from all dangers, from the sun to the moon, and everything in between!  He protects his people day and night.  Not only is the hot sun dangerous, but it was believed at the time that too much exposure to the moon could be dangerous too. Even in more modern times the term “moonstruck” refers to a person whose mental health is called into question. 

But beyond even the question of physical harm, just as the high places were places of pagan worship, the sun and moon were believed to be deities in the pagan worldviews surrounding Israel.  So whether the danger to God’s people is purely physical, or whether it has spiritual overtones, God protects his people!

            The Psalm concludes with God’s provision and care over your whole life, all of your coming and going, now and forevermore. 

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