“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made Heaven and Earth.”
When I read this Psalm, I find myself imagining the scene at the foot of the hills. I see the Psalmist as a protagonist in a cheesy Hollywood trailer. The camera pans out as he states in defiant confidence that his Lord is more powerful than anything that’s in front of him. If I’m feeling creative, I’ll hear some type of slow, epic music as the soundtrack. That’s a buy it on iTunes before it’s available to rent type of movie!
What I love more than the imagery is the absolute surety in the Lord throughout the verses. The “hills” can be the literal landscape that the pilgrims would journey through on the way to Jerusalem, or they can be any temptation, anxiety or fear that is lesser than our God. Whichever the case, the Psalmist knows the Lord can handle it. It’s so convicting to me. I face those things each day, and each day I find myself looking up at the “hills” in Dallas and giving into their “greatness.” Whether it’s the temptation to be the stereotypical Dallas professional or the anger from facing the sea of cars on 75, I forget where my help comes from. I put my hope in lesser things and give into anxieties when they could be laid out at the feet of Jesus.
Many years ago, before I was a domesticated father of 2 (still weird to say), I was a young infantry Marine in combat only 9 months after joining. After a few months in Iraq, I was asked to be a “guardian angel” with one of our sniper teams. A guardian angel is basically a grunt with a gun that helps protect the snipers when they’re on missions. On our first trip out, I was pretty nervous, but I felt protected and confident since I was with some of the most highly trained warriors in the world.
Since we would go out for days at a time, we would take shifts at night. 2 would sleep and 1 would stand watch. On my first night out, I could hardly sleep, but I eventually nodded off. Maybe an hour later, I woke up to see the sniper on watch sound asleep – which is a mortal sin in the Marines. It was terrifying, humbling and disappointing. Any sense of comfort I had was gone, and I never saw the snipers the same again.
It was a clear example that people disappoint, you fail yourself, and things are never as shiny as they appear. My need for something more was obvious. The Message uses the term Guardian God in Psalm 121, which to me, is so powerful in light of that experience.
“He won’t let you stumble, your Guardian God won’t fall asleep.
Not on your life! Israel’s Guardian will never doze or sleep.”
Jesus, I pray that you lead us from the temptations of staring at the hills. Let us be confident that you are our Guardian God that will never disappoint. Amen.
— Chris Holtkamp