J-P spoke tonight on Psalm 121, a favourite psalm of his (and many other people!) This psalm was written in the flyleaf of his first Bible by his grandmother and was particularly relevant to him during childhood hikes in the Drakensberg mountains in his native South Africa (mountains which, at 3482 m above sea level, are considerably higher than anything in the UK!) On such occasions, the majesty and awesome power of God the Creator are evident to us and this psalm reminds us that God is our helper and protector.
In ancient times, the mountains were often thought to be the dwelling-place of the gods, and in Ex 19:16-19 we see how God appeared to His people on Mount Sinai. Ultimately, however, our help does not come from mountains, but from God Himself. The psalm reminds us that our helper is not just a person, but God Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth. He is the creator of all we see: the magnificence of the mountains, the grandeur of the oceans, the beauty of our world all reflect God’s power.
God not only helps us, but also protects us. He watches over us and looks after us – not for him the post-prandial Sunday afternoon snooze so many of us experience each week! This psalm gives us assurance that God protects us; He provides shade for us during the heat and enables us to live without fear or superstition. His protection is not temporary, but forever. He has our back!
This psalm may seem to some to be naive or simplistic, but actually it encourages child-like trust which should be the goal of all of us (didn’t Jesus tell us that the kingdom of heaven belongs to such children? – Matt 18:3) It’s so easy to get distracted, but we need child-like faith because we are children of God.