Psalm 121:1-2 – 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. (NIV)
Several summers ago, when a friend and I were on a cruise to the Holy Land, everything got changed all of a sudden — a bomb blew up at the dock at our original destination. We all had to go a different way up into Jerusalem by bus. I will never forget it. Our route was completely changed, so we were actually climbing a very long, high hill. It felt like we were ascending on a back road up a high mountain. Jerusalem really is situated on a high hill, above everything else. I wondered what it was like years ago to walk with a group of pilgrims up into Jerusalem singing a psalm of praise as they lifted up their eyes to the hills.
We sure wanted to see Jerusalem, but there we were on a lengthy bus ride up a back road toward the Mount of Olives. It was quite a climb, but we finally could look down towards the holy places. I especially noted the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus struggled through the night. John Douglas Campbell, Duke of Argyll, the author of the hymn "Unto the hills", must have felt that same spiritual ascendancy speaking to him.
- Unto the hills around do I lift up my longing eyes:
O whence for me shall my salvation come, from whence arise?
From God the Lord doth come my certain aid,
From God the Lord Who heaven and earth hath made.
For me, singing the Scriptures, especially the Psalms, brings me close to God in many more ways than climbing a sacred hill. It also involves lifting up my eyes off myself and onto God. Every note that resounds in the praise of God opens me to the glory of God. The Psalms especially tell of a people's longing to worship their God, to praise His name. You can tell that I sing in a choir, eh? I also play the organ and piano. All my life, music has been my way of expressing my love and devotion to God. For me, music is the best way we have of expressing heavenly glory here on earth. It comes close to the sounds of heavenly praise when the angels sing around the throne of God.
We all have some means of expressing devotion to God — some in poetry, when sung or when played on a musical instrument. When a person is sharing with others in a special moment together before the Lord, we feel it. Every expression of God's glory takes us on a sacred journey to God's house, to a place of praise and worship: high, holy, and lifted up!
Often in our busy lives, we don't take enough sacred moments to sing to the glory of God. Praise of God can change a bitter moment to one of blessing. Singing to His glory can beautifully share God's presence with others, and praying together comes more easily to a tongue-tied person when music accompanies the words said. If our day feels empty and God is silent, let's sing a hymn at the top of our voice, and our feelings will change to expressions of praise for the day. Yes, music opens us to the presence of God.
Prayer: O Lord, we are too often silent, pressed down with caring about all we have to do. Release us, dear Lord, from the pressures we feel so that our souls may sing Your praises with a full heart. As You come into our lives today, we thank You with grateful hearts for Your presence. We acknowledge that all our expressions of Your praise, especially when music fills our hearts, enlarge our awareness of You. May our footsteps through this day follow the beat of the angels as we sing Your praises. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.