Sometimes we literally have to ask ourselves, “Where does my dependence lie? The Christian answer, of course, is to say, “My dependence is on God,” but is it really?
(1) 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.
In the Hebrew Bible, “A Song of degrees” is part of the psalm so I have included it here. What’s also true of this Psalm is that the first two statements in our translation are better understood as questions rather than statements:
“Will I lift up mine eyes unto the hills? From whence cometh my help?”
This is important because in the Old Testament whenever Israel was turning to the hills, it was turning to idols and God regularly rebuked the idolatry of His people. “Turning to the hills” was a euphemism for idol worship. With his questions, the psalmist challenges that way of thinking and challenges his readers to do the same.
When you are truly in crisis, what is the first thought that comes to mind? For us guys it’s usually: “OK. What can I do to fix this?” But when you look at men like Moses and Aaron and David, their first response to any crisis was always to turn to God. Any “go to” plan that does not have God on the first page – and God on every page after the first page goes contrary to what God wants. And anything that takes precedence over God is idol worship. For some of us, our “go to” plan has God in the footnotes, or the appendix (maybe): “What can I do to fix this problem. I’ll pray if that doesn’t work – but I’ll probably try several other solutions before I get to that point.” Why? Because secretly in the back of our mind, we see turning to God as an admission of defeat. It’s so secret that we don’t even tell ourselves, but that really is the practice.
Does that mean that God does not want us to fix our problems and take care of ourselves? Of course not. When Peter was imprisoned, he was fully trusting God to take care of him. How do I know this? Because even though he was facing a beheading in the morning, he was comfortably sleeping between his two guards (just like Jesus was resting comfortably in the boat during the storm on Galilee). But when the time came for Peter to be rescued, the angel told him to put on his sandals himself. That was Peter’s part of the solution. He trusted God for everything else (Acts 12:1-19).
If you’re in crisis right now, the psalmist’s solution is the answer to every problem:
Consider your situation and your heart’s response.
If the response is one of panic and does not include God, ask yourself: “From whence cometh my help?” In other words, counsel yourself according to Scripture to get God’s perspective on the problem.
Turn your crisis over to God and trust Him.
Wait for His leading. Be still and know that He is God. “My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.”
Don’t measure God by your circumstances. Judge your circumstances by the character of Who God is.
This is what the psalmist is doing in the rest of this psalm. The circumstances he is dealing with are tumultuous, but rather than think that his circumstances are a reflection of who his God is, he is counseling himself in the goodness, faithfulness and character of God. “He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: He that keepeth thee will not slumber.”
Don’t forget the God Who brought you this far.
Like Peter we’ll have the courage to step out of the boat and onto the water, confident that God will keep us, and then at the first sign of crisis that faith that helped to do the impossible suddenly evaporates (Matthew 14:22-33). The same God Who called us out onto the water in the first place is still there. Through blessing and crisis, the Lord shall preserve us from all evil and “shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore!”