1 I raise my eyes toward the mountains.
Where will my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the maker of heaven and earth.
3 God won’t let your foot slip.
Your protector won’t fall asleep on the job.
4 No! Israel’s protector
never sleeps or rests!
5 The Lord is your protector;
the Lord is your shade right beside you.
6 The sun won’t strike you during the day;
neither will the moon at night.
7 The Lord will protect you from all evil;
God will protect your very life.
8 The Lord will protect you on your journeys—
whether going or coming—
from now until forever from now.
Having grown up in the mountains of Pennsylvania, I have always resonated with the imagery of this psalm. As beautiful as South Jersey is, it’s flat – for me almost oppressively so. I miss the hills.
There are multiple interpretations of this passage – the most common one being that the writer is thinking of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He (she?) remembers seeing the city before him, nestled in the Judean hills. I can identify with this too – even today, just seeing the city is a profound spiritual experience.
To the people of Israel, the city was itself a reminder of God’s presence on earth – a sign of God’s faithfulness, and a promise of God’s protection. Its walls stood as a symbol of God’s care.
We all need tangible places in our lives we can visit to find reassurance, where we can be reminded that God is still in control – especially when our lives seem out of control. We might find that comfort in certain landscapes, certain locations, certain scriptures, even certain people. When the uncertainty of life causes us to lose sleep, when losses mount, we need to take time for our own pilgrimages to the places where God’s peace is real for us.
I hope that the words of this psalm might become one of those places for you, as they have been for me. Remember that our Creator never rests, but is always at work on our behalf – watching over us for our good. Rest in these promises today.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Where are the places you visit to experience God’s peace? What are the scriptures, who are the people, or what are the activities that remind you of God’s love and care for you? If you find yourself feeling anxious or afraid today, make a plan to visit one of your places of peace.
Prayer: Holy God, when we are afraid, we lift our eyes to you. You promise to protect and defend us, to shelter and shade us, to keep our feet from slipping. When we need reassurance, lead us back to the places and people where we can find your peace. Amen.