Called to Worship – Issue #14
by Phil Mershon
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
Pop theologian Whitney Houston asks the following questions:
Where do I go?
When there’s nobody else to turn to
Who do I talk to?
When nobody wants to listen
Who do I lean on?
She answers boldly with I Go to the Rock. What about you? Where do you turn for help?
I love the Psalms of Ascent: psalms 120-134 (see this cool project by my friend Bruce Benedict). These 15 psalms were sung by Israel as they approached Jerusalem for the 3 annual feasts. The psalms prepared worshippers spiritually and mentally as they considered God’s perfect character and their need for God.
As you prepare to worship each Sunday, I encourage you to read and meditate upon one of these psalms.
Psalm 121 is one of my favorites. As you read it, listen to these three renditions of it by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, Bebo Norman and Brian Doerksen. I would also recommend this interpretation by the Sons of Korah:
With Whitney Houston’s question ringing in our ears, this psalm answers the question: Where do I go when I need help?
Even in the height of King David’s reign there were some who looked to the hills for a different kind of help. False worship took place on the hills to the pagan deities of Baal and Asherah. I doubt you’ve bowed down to Baal or ever been tempted, but I know we’re all guilty of idolatry.
I like John Piper’s definition of idolatry: “Idolatry is valuing any thing or any person more than the one true God. An idol is any thing or any person that takes center stage in our affections. ”
If you’re trusting in the size of your bank account, your pedigree, your possessions, your skills, or in a company, mentor or sports team for deliverance or life, you’ve committed idolatry. I do it every day in my heart and this psalm reminds me to look to the hills for REAL help.
Israel had a long history of foreign armies sweeping in to attack them. Some kings and prophets would lead the nation to prayerfully look to the LORD for deliverance. One of the greatest pictures comes in 2 Kings 6:15-18 when Elisha prays for God to open the eyes of his servant to see the deliverance that awaits them in the hills.
Do you look expectantly toward the hills for deliverance or do you expect doom and opposition?
The hill we need to daily gaze upon is called Calvary. On that hill Jesus faced our deepest fears and dispelled them. Jesus took upon himself our idolatry, our sinful past, present and future, and paid our debts to God. Jesus provided help, protection and deliverance from all our enemies. We may not always understand his plan of deliverance (just like Elisha’s servant), but Psalm 121 reminds us that God always watches. No matter what.
It’s Your Turn
How do you respond when God seems silent?