Knowing God is a lifelong pilgrimage of obedience towards Him through the pathway of Jesus Christ.
The Pilgrim Psalms are a beautiful reflection on the dependence on God for our salvation and his faithfulness in our lives before and for the future. They express both sides of the story – the dialogue between an almighty, mysterious, and faithful God and his broken, searching and beseeching creation. The pilgrims are thanking God for all that he has been in the past and pray and trust for his help now and for the future. They are moving away from the afflicted world, the one where they have fear, mistrust, slander and distress – leaving all of this behind and taking a pilgrimage towards Yahweh; towards peace, wholeness, peace, provision, forgiveness, and joy. This is a journey that responds to the call to hope, to experience God in all his richness, and in unity with other believers. And these songs, the Pilgrim Psalms, are the melody that infuses their story, their journey towards their Saviour.PSALM 121
Psalm 121 communicates that God is always our help and is the only one that can truly help. While we may look for security or help from various places, our help truly comes from the Lord. As Eugene Peterson puts it: “The Christian Life is going to God.”
The Psalmist infers the help that is on offer in the world; the worship of the Pagan gods who promised fertility and rain who were worship atop of the mountains, and instead declares that his help comes from Yahweh. It is a declaration of the promise that even though danger is around us and befall us, God is a constant comfort and help – and that should we remain faithful to him, nothing can come between us.
As we take steps towards God and as we journey in faith we face fear, anxiety and danger. The Christian life is not immune to heartache. This week provides the opportunity for our church to search their hearts and ask where they have looked to other places for their help – and instead look to God.
Psalm 121 explores the grand nature of God. A God who is bigger than the mountains, who is greater than our current circumstance that we find ourselves surrounded by. It declares that God is the maker of the heavens and the earth – the true source of all we see before us. While we might seek security, comfort and hope from external sources that this world offers, the true provider is God himself.
It also explores the intimate nature of God. A God that does not slumber or sleep and cares so much for His creation that He notices the placement of the Pilgrim’s foot. He is deeply faithful and reliable. Verses 5 and 6 say: “The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.”
Psalm 121:5-6 (NIV) and it speaks to the protection of God. The right hand was the dominant hand, the powerful hand, the one that wields the sword in battle. So it is a fiercely strong protection. The right hand was the hand that kings wore the ring symbolising their authority on. So it is reliable protection. But it also an intimate protection. The right hand was the hand that was used to give blessing to the first born son. It’s used in family to give blessing – it’s the family like protection and a reminder of His care for us as sons and daughters of God.
Finally, the Psalm reminds the reader of the never ending nature of God as our provider and protector. While this doesn’t mean that bad things won't happen to us; it does promise is that God will keep us in times of trouble. It is a phenomenal promise, one that starts from the now and that has no end.CONCLUSION
The Pilgrim Psalms are a cry to God that cement the journey towards him through their declarations. As believers, we are all on a journey home to Jesus but we choose how we journey. We can walk close to our creator or we can follow at a distance. We can run to him at times of trouble or we can turn to other things that may provide a temporary comfort. Psalm 121 boldly declares that in times of uncertainty and trouble, “My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”
In our current climate of restrictions; fear, anxiety and worry can take over our hearts; or instead we could choose to look up towards the maker and keeper of all things, for eternity, and put our trust in Him alone.Discussion Questions
1. When you read Psalm 121 what emotions does it stir up for you?
2. The mountains could represent, fear of the unknown, safety or help from where other people find support – if you feel comfortable, share where you seek help from when you face mountains in your life.
3. Where do you see the magnitude and largeness of God in your life?
4. Where do you see the intimacy of God in your life?
5. How do you think this Psalm relates to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus?
Join Andrew Chisholm, Greg Baust and Brisita Rojas explore Psalm 121 and the almighty, intimate and eternal nature of God. Watch the full episode here