Sunday, November 19, 2023
Where Does Our Help Come From?
By Jeff Gilstrap
Where might our help come from? Our help is in God, the one who is constant, dependable, and loving, who not only loves us but also helps us. It is a great comfort to know that the Lord protects us.
Psalm 121 is classified as a “Psalm of Ascent,” part of the grouping of Psalms 120-134, all of which are labeled as “a song of ascents” or “a song of ascent.” These psalms would have been sung by pilgrims ascending the road to Jerusalem for the three great festivals: Passover, the Feast of Weeks (which we know as Pentecost), and the Feast of Tabernacles. The Israelites would have been required to make the journey to Jerusalem for these 3 festivals. This would include packing the family with enough food and clothing to make a long journey (for some, 3 days). The mountains in Jerusalem are not like our mountains. They are not lush, and tree covered but are barren and rocky. As they traveled, the roads would follow the valley floor and the mountains would provide some shade. But also, the mountains provided a great hiding place and a perch for bandits who could watch the pilgrims and at a moment’s notice attack, robbing them of their belongings. So, these songs were sung as a prayer to God asking for the Lord’s protection.
The psalmist asks the question “Where does my help come from?” And affirms the answer is the Lord, “My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth”. Then the Psalmist continues with a beautiful poem to articulate how the Lord will protect and care for the travelers. Since God is our helper, our keeper, our protector, then this suggests that we need help. Sometimes life deals us some difficulties that we cannot handle, we do not understand, and so we need help. The Psalmist suggests that God is the one who never rests and will always be there to help us in our time of need. God never rests.
Sometimes God’s help does not seem so obvious. We want God to send us a written message through the clouds, or come knock on our door, or through a written card. But God’s help comes through many different mediums. A friend, a family member, a surprise situation. We need to be open to God’s help by seeking help and then being open to the movement of spirit in many ways. We need to listen and know that God loves us enough to help, wants to help, and helps in ways we may not see. It is when we witness God’s faithfulness in our time of need, we grow stronger in our love for God and our fellow brother and sister in Christ.
- Read the Psalm and list the ways the Lord will protect you.
- Why is it hard for us to sometimes ask for help?
- Think of a time of difficulty. Did you seek help? Did someone come to help you? Did you ask God for help and so you believe God answered?
- Can you think of a time in life when you needed help and you received help but maybe, not in the way you expected? The outcome was good but not what you wanted?
- God intervenes and provides help to us in our life. We are God’s called people and so what does this say to us about how we are to help people in their time of need?
By Kenneth Jones
Introit: There are exactly four hymns listed as having a reference to Psalm 121. We begin with “To the Hills I Lift My Eyes”, a paraphrase of verse 1 and 2.
Opening Hymn: The opening hymn was inspired by the three divine attributes listed in 1 Timothy 1:17, and “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise” references verses 3 and 4 of our scripture.
Special Music: The Chancel Choir will present “Still I Sing Alleluia” by Kyle Pederson.
Responsive Hymn: For our response, we use the one hymn that references the whole chapter, “I to the Hills Will Lift My Eyes”.
Sending Hymn: A hymn of thanksgiving and praise, with reference to verses 3 and 4, “Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above”.
Benediction: Our benediction for November, the season of thanksgiving, is “For the Life That You HAve Given”.