Pastor's Pen

Christians eagerly anticipate attending conferences or camps annually, embarking on a familiar journey where excitement grows with each milestone. Reconnecting with old friends and soaking in the wisdom of beloved teachers brings immense joy. For many at Pineland, camp Bonnechere has a history of being that kind of a place. In a similar vein, for ancient Hebrews, the pilgrimage to the temple for feasts mirrored this experience, albeit with likely greater challenges. Psalm 121, a "Song of Ascents," was a comforting anthem sung during their travels, instilling hope that the Lord safeguards His people throughout their pilgrimage.

To reach Jerusalem, numerous Israelites undertook arduous journeys spanning hundreds of miles, traversing valleys, arid landscapes, cliffs, and caves. Navigating through wilderness areas fraught with predators and bandits, many followed the paths alongside the Jordan River valley, ultimately facing a steep ascent of thousands of feet to reach the temple. Contemplating this challenging climb, the psalmist penned the question, "I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where does my help come?" (v. 1). This query resonates with anyone confronting a journey, a trial, or even the prospect of death—prompting reflection on the source of assistance and guidance to navigate the challenges of the day.

The solution lies in the subsequent verse: "My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth." This statement stands as a profound declaration of faith. Confronted by formidable hills and daunting challenges, the psalmist avows that his assistance is derived from Jehovah, the truly existing God—unchanging in His faithfulness and the Creator of the heavens and the earth. He reigns over both the peaks and the troughs, solidifying this expression as a resolute affirmation of unwavering faith in the all-powerful God.

Psalm 124:8 says, "Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth". This is a solemn confession of God's people as they commence a new week. It should resonate as our confession, especially as we approach the heavenly throne of Jehovah. Recognizing our dependence on Him, echoing the sentiment of John 15:5, "Without Him, we can do nothing." In the person and accomplished work of Christ, who ascended to the true Holy of Holies, we discover both help and hope. Furthermore, Christ has pledged to send the Helper, the Holy Spirit, for the benefit of His disciples, as promised in John 16:7.

Those who openly acknowledge this divine assistance harbor a profound and optimistic hope. This hope is beautifully depicted through poetic imagery in the subsequent verses of Psalm 121, illustrating the Lord's attentive care for pilgrims. He sustains, keeps watch, shields, and preserves His children. Despite the inevitable encounters with dangers and the certainty of mortality, the psalm concludes with an enduring promise: "The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore" (Psalm 121:8). This assurance extends beyond temporal challenges, offering an eternal safeguard for those who place their trust in the Lord.