2-28-99 Head to the Hills! Psalm 121
by Ronald E. George Jr.
The story has been told of a believer, Frederick Nolan, who was fleeing from his enemies during a time of persecution in North Africa. He was fleeing from his enemies during a persecution in North Africa. Pursued over a hill and through a valley with no place to hide, he fell exhausted into a cave, expecting to be caught. Awaiting his death, he saw a spider weaving a web. Within minutes, the spider had woven a beautiful web across the mouth of the cave. The man's pursuers arrived, but on seeing the unbroken web assumed it impossible for him to have entered the cave. Later that believer exclaimed, "Where God is, a spider's web is like a wall. Where God is not, a wall is like a spider's web."
Few things offer security to believers more than an awareness that God will use His overcoming power to protect them.
Some fifty years ago, one bitter January night, the inhabitants of the old town of Sleswick were thrown into the greatest distress and terror. A hostile army was marching down upon them, and new and fearful reports of the conduct of the lawless soldiers were hourly reaching the place.
In one large, spacious cottage dwelt an aged grandmother with her widowed daughter and her grandson. While all hearts quaked with fear, this aged woman passed her time in crying out to God that he would "build a wall of defense round about" them, quoting the words of an ancient hymn.
Her grandson asked why she prayed for a thing so entirely impossible as that God should build a wall about their house, that should hide it; but she explained that her meaning only was that God should protect them.
At midnight the dreaded tramp was heard, an enemy came pouring in at every avenue, filling the houses to overflowing. But, while most fearful sounds were heard on every side, not even a knock came to their door; at which they were greatly surprised. The morning light made the matter clear; for, just beyond the house, the drifted snow had reared such a massive wall that it was impossible to get over it to them.
"There!" said the good woman triumphantly: "do you not see, my son, that God could raise up a wall around us?"
Scripture Text: Psalm 121:1 (KJV) A Song of degrees. I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. 2 My help [cometh] from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. 3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. 4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The LORD [is] thy keeper: the LORD [is] thy shade upon thy right hand. 6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. 8 The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth and even for evermore.
I. Why do we need help?
There are things in this that we all need which we can't do for ourselves. We need some help. There are difficulties and problems in this life, which can't be overcome by us. The writer of this psalm was in just such a situation. He needed some help. Accidents can happen. Sickness and disease does eventually come to all of us. Troubles and problems are very much a part of the journey of this life. We need security so we purchase insurance, build retirement funds, and make plans for accidental disability. We need help because no matter how hard we try we can't do it all it ourselves. There are some things that can't be overcome by us.
A. Time is going down the streams of our lives like a roaring river. There is no escape.
B. We can't find satisfaction from the things of this world.
C. Nothing is safe and secure in this world.
D. There are no real guarantees.
E. Sin brings the result of death.But the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ. Gal. 6:23
"Many years ago", writes an unknown author, "a little boy lay on his small bed, having just retired for the night. Before going to sleep, he moved in the direction of the large bed on which his father lay, and said: 'Father, are you there?' "'Yes, my son,' was the answer. The little boy turned over and went to sleep, without a thought of harm. "Tonight the little boy is an old man of seventy, and every night before going to sleep, he looks up into the face of the Heavenly Father and say, "Father, are you there?' And the answer comes back, clear and strong: 'Yes, my son.'" <Stones with Fair Colors> Gary Bowell p. 164
II. Where do people look for help?
E. B. Sprunt tells the following story: The road was long and lonely, and the night so dark, as they were homeward bound after the midweek prayer meeting. Ominous shadows and weird noises came from the trees and bushes as the wind blew through the branches; it was enough to send shivers up the spine. The two little girls sitting in the back seat of the old horse-drawn vehicle were asked, "Are you not frightened?" "Oh, no!" they replied, "You see, Father is with us and we are never afraid when he holds the reins." <Stones with Fair Colors> Gary Bowell p. 164,165
III. Where can we find help that is lasting?
There is really only one place where we can find help that will stand to the test of time. People will let you down because they are people/mortal. Governments will fail because they are made up of mortals. Insurance will be insufficient for the test of death that is coming to all of us. Heb. 9:27
No one could say that George Smith didn't have courage. A daring jet test pilot in the 1950's, back when the sound barrier was first being broken, he could face anything -- until he had to bail out of a jet going 805 miles per hour (Guideposts 1958). Though he survived, he was afraid of ever flying again. Then, during his hospital stay, a nurse gave him an antidote to fear. He took her words to heart: "Courage," she said, "is knowing the worst -- and discovering that, in God's world, the very worst can't really hurt you."
An article in National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture of God's wings. After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno's damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their Dead mother's wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze had arrived and the heat had singed her small body, the mother had remained steadfast. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live.
Psalms 91:4 "He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. (KJV)"
IV. Who is this help for?
The other day the Accidental insurance salesmen came to the house. I told them that I had all that I needed. One of the salesmen said that he would like to have some of that. Best of all it is free to all who look to Him for their help. The God of the hills can be your God. Would you bring your trouble to him? There is nothing too big for him to handle. His Help is for those who trust him enough to surrender their lives to him. He is the keeper of Israel or the people that he has chosen and those who have decided to put themselves under his wings.
"Unless there is within us that which is above us, we shall soon be consumed by that which is about us."
At sometime during World War II, A passenger ship set sail from Great Britain headed for port in New York City. The Captain of the ship being afraid of enemy vessels sought the advice and guidance of the British Admiral. The Admiral calmly assured the captain that no matter what happens, he should be sure to sail his ship straight ahead. "Do not take any detours -- sail the ship straight ahead -- continue on-ward, heading straight towards the intended mark;" he said.
After several days of sailing across the Atlantic Ocean which was undeniably filled with submarines and enemy vessels of all kinds, the Captain spotted an enemy destroyer off his forward bow. Nervously he grasped the handset and called for assistance. The calm voice replied, "Keep on Straight, Do not Detour, just sail the ship straight ahead. Everything will be just fine. Just keep on going - straight ahead."
After a couple more days the ship pulled safely into the great harbor of New York city. Shortly after docking the great British battleship "Man-of-War" pulled into port behind the passenger vessel. The Captain realized that while he did not see the British Battleship, she was there, standing bye. Standing ready to come to his defense should it prove necessary.
So it is in our lives. God is standing by. We may not always see him there, but he is. Waiting. Bidding us onward toward the mark... Keep your ship on course. Keep on going - straight ahead...