Psalm 121:1-8 – I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip — he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 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. The Lord will keep you from all harm — he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. (NIV)

Some time ago, when visiting the Holy Land, we travelled the road thought by some scholars to be the route the ancient Israelites would have taken when they first entered the land after their long time spent in the desert. The road goes up from Jericho along what must have been an ancient riverbed. All along the way, it passes through a valley between high hills which rise on either side. Our guide pointed out that this would have been the inspiration for the 121st Psalm. As the people journeyed up this road, they were in constant danger from their enemies who could, and did, attack them from the top of these hills that gave them the advantage of height. It was almost like "shooting fish in a barrel" as our forefathers used to say. Thus, when the people of God looked up to the hills they would be filled with fear. This psalm then became their statement of faith.

When I look to the hills from whence comes my enemy, when I am afraid, I will look to the Lord who is my strength. The very source of our fear becomes the centre of our protection. As an old hymn says, "Even the hour that darkest seemeth will His changeless goodness prove." Like the people who centuries ago moved into the land promised to them, we can stare fear in the eye, knowing God is still in control. He will neither slumber nor sleep. He will bring strength to our weakness and joy for our fear. Out of that which we most fear, our God will bring His richest blessing!

Prayer: Lord, help us always to remember that the things we fear are no more than veils the enemy has put up to hide the compassion of your countenance. Thank you for the assurance that, no matter what terror grips us, your love and power are more powerful, and that, while the fearsome things will pass, your love will remain forever. Amen.

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Harold Moddle

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