by Chad Hyatt
Psalm 121
Reflection—v. 1 ‘where is help to come from?’

When I worked at a nursing home, earning my way through seminary, this verse— Authorized King James Version, of course—was a favorite prayer of one of my coworkers. ‘I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help; my help cometh from the Lord!’ she would cry out on a trying day. Unlike the King James, the Hebrew text probably presents a question before it goes on to its radical affirmation. And it’s not a bad question to ask ourselves. Where is help to come from? The psalmist sets our gaze on the mountains. Here on the city sidewalks, I often look up at the skyscrapers that overshadow us and wonder the same. Both have towering majesty, even beauty. Both can seem so big that we feel small. And if I may be so bold, both can serve as make-shift altars, places we imagine heaven and earth might meet and gods dwell. For our psalmist, such majesty does not possess power enough to save us and altars built there cannot bless. In our own day, systems and institutions that hold sway over us with so much power and pile up promises of help, often disappoint, leading to greater disillusionment and alienation. Sadly, we must confess these include our churches and religious institutions, too. But our psalmist offers us an answer: ‘Help comes to me from Yahweh, who made heaven and earth.’ Here mountains don’t matter. And neither do our modernized Babylonian towers. The God who made everything— mountains included—is the one who is our saving help. This powerful proclamation invites us to ground our faith deeper than the mountains—deeper, indeed, than all that is—and to nurture radical hope in the God of creation and liberation.

Prayer: Yahweh, bigger than mountains, our hope is in your liberation.

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