I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
Psalms 120-134 are considered to be the Psalms of Ascent. Scholars believe they were sung as part of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, whether by the Levite priest or by the people. In this particular one, we are reminded of God’s sure presence with us. Perhaps at times in our lives, we have found our help through other people, who are agents of God for us. And there are times when we feel like all we have is God.
- Are there places or people that have provided help that are no longer available?
- Where do you need God’s help today?
- Where do you feel yourself slipping? How might God’s presence bring the sureness of footing where you are right now?
Gracious God, we look to you for help and for guidance. Thank you that we are always within your sight, and you do not slumber or let anything slip by. Give us faith today to trust in your presence and to extend your presence into the world in a way that honors you and blesses others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore.
What wonderful assurances in this passage! God is at our right hand to protect us - from being overwhelmed by heat of the day and dark of the night. And God guards our soul, that place where our true being dwells. We can enter the day with confidence that we are under the loving eye of our Lord.
- What is overwhelming to you today?
- What would you like to say to God, the Guardian of your soul?
- Where do you need his guidance in your going out and coming in today?
Gracious God, thank you for the reminder that you are our keeper, our guardian from the external circumstances and of our inner being. Thank you that in the midst of our situations, you are present with us to protect us. From that place of your protection, guide our steps today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be revered.
Another of the Psalm of Ascent, there is a sense of the writer’s heart breaking open in desperation for God to hear and answer. Aware of his dependence for God’s mercy, he leans in with gratitude and worship for His forgiveness.
- When have you experienced a desperate need for God’s gracious presence?
- How easy is it to ask for his mercy rather than try to figure it out on your own?
- Is there an area of your life right now where you need to lean in to the forgiveness of God? What do you need to say?
Gracious God, you are all-knowing, and the only one who can hear my cries for mercy and answer with your forgiveness and love. Thank you that we can be confident that your mercies are new every morning, never failing. Help us to live in the reality of your gracious love and respond in reverence. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.
Have you ever experienced the darkness and loneliness of night and strained toward the first glimpse of morning light? King David experiences this in his waiting to encounter God. And in his waiting, he invites the community of faith to continue to put their hope in the long-expected Jesus, who is coming to bring redemption and freedom.
- Where are you sitting in darkness, longing for light?
- What do you hear God inviting you to in the darkness?
- Is there someone with whom you can share the darkness and together wait for the redemption and freedom of Christ?
Gracious Lord, we have long awaited you and now prepare for your coming once again. Come to us, replace our fear with your love and our anxiety with your consolation. In the dark, be present with us and point us toward your light of hope and freedom, that we might invite others around us to experience your redemptions. Come, Lord Jesus, Amen.
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul within me is like a weaned child.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time on and forevermore.
Imagine sitting in the lap of God, God’s arms around you like a mother with her child. Safe and loved, we are invited to rest in God, content to be in God’s presence, free from asking anything. It is good to set aside the things that are beyond our control, and to sit with the One who holds the future and holds us in love.
- Are there things that you are occupied with that are beyond your control?
- What are you doing to calm and quiet your soul?
- What would it be like to sit on God’s lap and rest with contentment?
Gracious God, in this moment we ask nothing of you, but to sit in your presence and feel your strong and loving arms around us. In your arms we rest, because our hope is in you. Amen.