From Where Comes My Help?
by Peter Kek
Pastor Of Grace Reformed Church
Psalms 121. A Song of Ascents. “I will lift up my eyes to the hills – From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your helper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.”
Now as we can see at the very top of the psalm, the superscription, now this is a song of ascents. Now we know that there’s a group of psalms called the song of ascents that is beginning from Psalms 120, right through Psalms 134. Now, these are songs that the pilgrims would sing when they made their way up to Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Now, this Psalm has two parts. First, we have the question, and then we have the answer.
So, we have the question in verse 1. It says, “I lift up my eyes to the hills – from where comes my help?” Now that is the title of my exaltation here this morning: “From Where Comes My Help”. Perhaps at a time like this, this is the question that many people would ask: from where comes my help?
And that is the question the psalmist is asking, and the next part is the answer, and we find the answer beginning in verse 2, right to the end of this psalm. So, let us begin by looking at the question the psalmist asked. Perhaps a question, a question that many of us might be asking: from where comes my help? Now the psalmist is obviously thinking about his problems or his troubles. Now we do not know exactly what his troubles were. Perhaps it is the trouble described in the previous psalm, in Psalm 120.
Now we read in Psalm 120, where the psalmist cried out in verse one: “In my distress I cry out to the LORD”. So, the psalmist is thinking about his distress that was his experience, and he said he heard me. Verse 2: “Deliver my soul, O LORD from lying lips from a deceitful tongue”. Perhaps the distress that the psalmist was going through was caused by people, people around him, the wicked people, the deceptions all around him.
And then he said: “What shall be given to you, or what shall be done to you, you false tongues? Sharp arrows of warriors with coals of a broom tree”. “Woe is me”, the psalmist says, “that I dwell in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!” Now verse five simply means this: the psalmist is aware that he is living in enemy territory. Wicked people were all around him and causing him grief and distress. And so, he said in verse six: “My soul has dwelt too long with one who hates peace”. But that was perhaps the kind of thing that caused distress to the psalmist. He wasn’t living in paradise; he was living in a place filled with wicked people and causing distress to him. And so, the psalmist was thinking about his troubles, whatever those troubles might be. Perhaps some of us are doing the same, we are thinking about our troubles.
Now then he looks for help. So, what did he do? Where did he look to for help? Now that’s how he begins this psalm in Psalms 121. He says: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills”. Now the hills are symbols of hope. We know that many times people look to the hills as symbols of strength, and perhaps that’s the reason why we find many resorts on hills. The people go to find encouragement or refreshment. And so, the psalmist was thinking: “from where will my help come?”. So, he looks and scans the hill, and remember, he was thinking about the pilgrims going up to Mount Zion, and among that mountain are the other hills.
As I said, we do think about our problems often like a psalmist, and sometimes it’s just daily problems that we all face, but occasionally we might encounter big ones, big problems. And we are perhaps like a psalmist in deep distress, and perhaps even in fear. And like the psalmist, perhaps we also ask the question: from where comes my help? And perhaps like the psalmist, we look to the hills. Hills, as I said, are places we think our help might come from, solutions to our problems. Perhaps to the bankers, if you are thinking of your financial problems, perhaps to the doctors, you’re thinking of health issues, or perhaps to your family or to your friends. So, the psalmist says: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills”, the way I think, perhaps, could be answers to my problems.
But the psalmist realized the hills are only earthly solutions, and the psalmist realizes that he needs more than earthly solutions to solve his problem. Now, isn’t that very often true that we come to the realization that there is no true help on earth, there is no human solution that can really solve our problems. And so, the psalmist now asks the question: “From where comes my help?”. Really? The hills?
And so, that leads us to the next part of this psalm, where now the psalmist got the answer to his question. And the answer he realizes is this, we see in verse 2. He says: “My help comes from the LORD”. My help comes from the LORD. Now I want to ask you, is He where you rest your hope when you are in deep trouble? Well, when you are in distress or in fear, where do you finally look to for answers? Now, I want to point out here that for the psalmist, he seemed to have learned this lesson. He learned that it is really from the Lord, and we find the psalmist saying this repeatedly in the psalms.
We look for example to the next, to Psalms 123:1, where the psalmist says here: “Unto you I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens”. Again, the psalmist is saying that it is only the Lord, unto you the Lord, I will lift up my eyes, not the hills. Why? Because you are sovereign, you are the one who dwells in the heavens.
And then, in Psalms 124, Psalms 1 2 4, and the psalmist said here in the first three verses: “If it had not been the LORD who was on our side”, let Israel now say – “If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive, when their wrath was kindled against us;”. Now what the psalmist is saying here is this: if the Lord had not been with us, we are finished. We would not be able to deal with the problems in our life if the Lord had not been with us.
But then he cries out right in the same psalm, Psalms 124:1- but “blessed be the LORD, who has not given us as prey to their teeth. Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers. The snare is broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth”. But because God is with us, because God had been on our side. The psalmist says that is the reason why we were not taken as prey by the enemies.
And so you see, the psalmist constantly looks to the Lord, and he understands it is the Lord, the same thing if you look at the following Psalms 125:1- “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever”. Now that was the settled conviction of the psalmist. Every time when he is in trouble, he knows where he should be turning to. Now is that our settled conviction, when we are in distress, we can say it like the psalmist – unto you, O Lord, I will lift up my eyes”?
Now, let us now examined the answer as provided by the psalmist in Psalms 1 2 1, and what we want to ask is this, as we look at the psalmist’s answer: what about the Lord that gives him hope? Yes, now he says I will look to the Lord, but what about the Lord that gives him hope? Now there are two things here. The first thing, it is the Lord’s promise to be with us. The Lord’s promise to be with us. And whether that psalmist said this, let us look at the answer again in verse 2. He says: “My help comes from the LORD”. Now we all know that the word LORD here in capital letter is the name of God, the Covenant name of God, Yahweh. Yahweh. Now here, perhaps the psalmist is reminded that God, or the LORD.
Now, this is a God who has revealed himself first of all to Moses, this is the name that God has revealed to Moses in Exodus chapter 3. Now, what was the context of that revelation? Why did God reveal to Moses his name Yahweh? If you will just flip over with me to Exodus chapter 3, where God first revealed his name to Moses. Exodus chapter 3. Now we have that recorded in verses 13 and 14.
Now it says here in Exodus 3:13- “Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’.”
The children of Israel were in distress, they were in deep trouble and Moses came to them and told them that God would help them, but they wanted to know which God, what God, what is His name? What kind of God can help us at a time like this? And that is the context of the revelation of God’s name. That means the reason why God revealed His name to the children of Israel is this: it is mentioned in verse 12, same chapter. Exodus 3:12. But God said: “So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
Now, this is the reason why God revealed his name to them, it is to be a sign to them, it is to tell them that God will be with them, that’s what he says in verse 12: “I will certainly be with you”. Now, this is the assurance to all generations of Israel because when you read verse 15, Exodus 3: “Moreover, God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The LORD (that is Yahweh) God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob has sent me to you. Now this is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.” In other words, now this name I give to you is a reminder forever that I will never leave you nor forsake you. Now, this is a covenant name of God. This is a name that God reveals to Israel to remind them of His promise to be their God and He will never leave them.
Now, you can see that reminder repeated in Deuteronomy chapter 31. Deuteronomy chapter 31. Let me now read verses 7 and 8 of Deuteronomy 31:7-8- now “then Moses called Joshua and sent him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed”. So here before they entered the promised land, Moses reminded Joshua of this God who has revealed himself to Moses. The name Yahweh, to remind them that He will be with them and will never forsake them.
And so when we come back to Psalms 121, now this is what the psalmist is saying, my help comes from Yahweh, my help comes from the One who has revealed Himself to us, and who has promised us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. So, what sustains the psalmist in the midst of turmoil and trials? What sustained him, it is this confidence that his God will never leave him nor forsake him. I believe that there is what should sustain us at a time like this. It’s not the hills that we see all around us as human solutions, but it is the Lord who has promised that He will never leave nor forsake his people. So that is the first thing about the psalmist’s answer when he says “my help comes from the Lord” because he will never leave me nor forsake me.
But there is a second part to this answer. Not only that the Lord will be with us, but it is also the Lord’s power to keep us. Not just the Lord’s promise to be with us, but also the Lord’s power to keep us. Now perhaps some might be asking, yes, the Lord promises to be with us, but can he help us? That is the question that the psalmist is addressing now, can the Lord help us? Is He able, is He powerful enough to help us? The answer, again, in verse 2: “My help comes from the LORD”, and who is this Lord? He is one who made heaven and earth. He is one who made heaven and earth.
Now that is what the psalmist is reminded of, about his God. His God, in other word, is the creator of the universe. And turn with me for a moment to how the prophet Isaiah puts it in Isaiah chapter 40. Isaiah chapter 40. 4 0. Look with me first of all at verses 12 through 15. In verse 10, the Prophet says: “Behold, the Lord GOD”. In other words, he’s inviting us to behold our God, to think of who our God really is: “Behold, the Lord GOD shall come with a strong hand”.
Then he said in verse 12: “Who has measured the waters in the hollows of His hand, and who has measured heaven with a span, who has calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Who has weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in the balance? Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or acted as His counselor, or as his counselor has sought him? With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge, and showed Him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the scales; Look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing”.
And then, in verse 28: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint”.
Now, this is what the psalmist is saying. Now, this is our God, this is why he has this confidence because he is the God who made the heavens and the earth, the cradle of the universe. Now this powerful God, this God who made the heavens and the earth, what will he do about us who are in trouble? What will he do?
The psalmist tells us in verse three of Psalms 1 2 1, he says this God who made the heaven and the earth, He will not allow your foot to be moved, He who keeps you will not slumber. Now I want you to take note for a moment the word ‘keep’. Now, this word is repeated six times throughout these verses. ‘Keep’, you see that in verse three, you see that in verse four, you see that in verse five: “the LORD is your keeper”, and then you see that in verse seven: “The LORD shall preserve”.
The word ‘preserve’ is the same word as ‘keep’. It means the Lord shall keep you from all evil. He shall preserve or keep your soul. And then verse eight: “The LORD shall preserve (or keep) your going out and your coming in”. Now that is the focus of the psalmist now. This God who is powerful, this God who made the heaven and the earth, He is the One who is preserving us or keeping us. And then he tells us three things about the preservation of God. Three things about God keeping us.
Number one, He tells us that he will keep us round-the-clock. He will keep us round-the-clock. That is what verses 3 and 4 is trying to say: He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber – He will not sleep. You might remember the time when Elijah was taunting the prophets of Baal, and he’s telling them, perhaps your gods are sleeping. Our God never sleeps. Verse 4: “Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep”. Now that is the first thing the psalmist is telling us about God keeping us. He is keeping us and watching over us all the time. We can think of parents watching over their little baby perhaps, or their little child, the parents would always be watchful. Perhaps the child takes a step and falls, but a parent knows. Now God is always watching over us.
Then there is a second thing about God keeping us, and that is mentioned from verse 5 through verse 7. And there is not only He will keep us round-the-clock, that is to say, all the time, but He will also keep us from all evil. He will keep us all the time and He will keep us from all evil. Verse 5: “The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night”. Now the expression there in verse 6 is in the daytime there, you know, they have evils during the day, and we have evil during the night, that they perhaps were thinking of the scorching sun; in the night, perhaps they were thinking of other kinds of evil.
But it’s clear from verse 7, he’s thinking about evil because verse 7 says: “The LORD shall preserve you from all evil”. Whether it is during the day or at night, the Lord shall keep you from all evil, He shall preserve your soul. So, He will keep us all the time, He will keep us from all evil.
And then the third thing he says about God keeping us is that He will keep us forever. Verse 8: “The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore”. The Lord will always, always keep us. Now that is the reason why the psalmist has such a conviction is that his true help comes from the Lord. As I said, perhaps we all ask the same question: from where comes my help? Now let us learn from the psalmist, and finally speaking, it is the Lord that is our helper. May God bless you.