Not many of us at least are living at our best. We linger in the lowlands because we are afraid to climb into the mountains. The steepness and ruggedness dismay us, and so we stay in the misty valleys and do not learn the mystery of the hills. We do not know what we lose in our self-indulgence. We do not know what glory awaits us, if only we had courage for the mountain climb. What blessing we would find, if only we would move to the uplands of God!
“I lift my eyes unto the hills. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; your Protector will not slumber. Indeed, the Protector of Israel does not slumber or sleep. The Lord protects you; the Lord is a shelter right by your side. The sun will not strike you by day or the moon by night. The Lord will protect you from all harm; He will protect your life. The Lord will protect your coming and going both now and forever” (Psalm 121).
It is good to always look up. Thousands of people dwarf their lives and hinder the possibilities of growth in their souls by looking downward. They keep their eyes always entangled in mere earthly sights, and miss the glories of the hills that pierce the clouds, and of the heavens that bend over them!
A story is told of a man who, one day in his youth, found a gold coin on the street. Ever after this, he kept his eyes on the ground as he walked, watching for coins. During a long lifetime, he found a good number of coins; but meanwhile, he never saw the flowers and the trees which grew in such wondrous beauty everywhere. He never saw the hills, the mountains, the sweet valleys, or the picturesque landscapes; he never saw the blue sky. To him, this fair world meant only a dusty road, dreary and unbeautiful, merely a place in which to look for coins.
This really is the story of the life of most people. They never lift their eyes off the earth. They live only to gather money, to add field to field, to scheme for power, or to find pleasure. Or, if their quest is a little higher, it is still only for earthly things. They never lift up their eyes to the hills. There is no blue sky in their picture. They cherish no heavenly visions. They are without God in the world.
We grow in the direction in which our eyes habitually turn. We become like that upon which we look much and intently. We were created to look up! The Greek word for man means “the upward-looking.” An old writer said, “God gave to man a face directed upward, and bade him look at the heavens, and raise his uplifted countenance toward the stars.” Yet there are many who never look upward at all. They do not pray. They never send a thought toward God. They never recognize the Father from Whose hands come all the blessings they enjoy. They seek no help from the heavens. They have no eye for the things that are unseen and eternal.
But the author of the one hundred and twenty-first Psalm does not belong to this class of people! He begins his pilgrim-song by saying, “I will lift up my eyes unto the hills.” This is one of the fifteen psalms called “Songs of Degrees,” or “Songs of Ascents.” Probably they were sung by the people as they went up to Jerusalem to the feasts. This particular Psalm, it is supposed, was sung by the caravans when – on the evening before entering the holy city – they encamped within sight of the mountains that made a wall around Jerusalem. The sight of the mountains gave the pilgrims great joy, for it told them that close beneath those hilltops nestled the city which they so much loved, with its temple of marble and gold, in which God dwelt.
“I lift up my eyes unto the mountains,” sang the glad pilgrim. The sight which he beheld not only produced rapture in his heart, but it also gave him a wonderful sense of safety. In another of the “Songs of Ascents,” the pilgrims sang:
“Those who trust in the Lord wre as mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people, from this time forth and for evermore.”
Thus the mountains became a picture or symbol of God. They suggested Divine defense. The pilgrims looked unto the hills – and they thought of the Lord. Here we get our lesson. We should train our eyes to look habitually to God as our help and defense!
I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on this article! Feel free to leave your reflections and ask your questions below.
God bless you and your family, this day and always.
All for our King’s glory,
photo by Geoff Duncan | Lightstock.com
This post is another installment of Miller’s Monday Musings, a weekly series that is published every Monday on my website. The series features selected writings that have been adapted from the works of James Russell Miller (1840-1912), a much-beloved Christian author and pastor who is well-remembered for his practical thoughts on Christian home and family life. Learn more about this weekly series by clicking here.