For Christians, this is Holy Week, the week when we remember and celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Holy Week is meant to be a week of looking inward as we follow the pattern of death and resurrection in our own lives. As such, I plan to offer a few reflections and prayer exercises here this week that may be helpful as you prepare for Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
A Song of Ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills— from where will my help come?
2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
8 The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.
There is a widespread question as to what the “hills” are referring to, here in this psalm. Some have suggested, in the ancient Near East, when people prayed to various gods and idols, people often had poles dedicated to the goddess Asherah, erected on hilltops.
Apparently, they climbed these hills, made sacrifices, looked to these shrines and waited for help. Therefore, in contrast, the Psalmist says, “I lift my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? Certainly not there! No, my help comes from the Lord.”
Others have suggested that the hills represented regions of danger, the pathways on which the brigands and threatening enemies traveled. The psalmist, then, looks to the hills in terror and anxiety, with a threat on the way, and says, “Where does my help come from? My strong hand? My mighty army? No! My help comes from the Lord.”
The precise historical context is less important than the clear theological affirmation, that our only help, in life, in trouble, in success, in failure, in family, in feast or famine is the Lord, who made heaven and earth and you and me.
He alone sustains every breath we breathe. The psalm is a profound comfort for us. Its purpose is to free us from all anxiety, which grips and paralyzes us to act and love in freedom.
Have you ever gone throughout your house and asked God to bless and protect the lives of every person who resides or visits those rooms? What about your office? Or your car?
Here is a Celtic blessing to begin. As you go from place to place, use your own words to ask for God’s blessing.
Bless this house and those within
Bless our giving and receiving
Bless our words and conversation
Bless our hands and recreation
Bless our sowing and our growing
Bless our coming and our going
Bless all who enter and depart
Bless this house, your peace impart