I look up to the mountains – does my help come from there?

During recent discussions, this Psalm came up. As a resident of West Virginia, this is often a favorite of ours, considering that we are the Mountain State.Yet, when you analyze it, the mountains and their ‘help’ is condemned.

The NLT has a better translation than most, which depends mainly on punctuation.

Imagine yourself, standing in the valley, looking up at those mountains. You are a YHWH worshiper, in His land, watching His people bend to Ba’al. Where was Ba’al and the associated gods and goddesses worshiped? On the top of the hills and mountains. People would pray to these shrines. But, your help wouldn’t come from Ba’al, would it? Would you really want the help that the mountains could give you?

Instead, it is not the mountains which the Psalmist is looking to, but YHWH.

I look up to the mountains– does my help come from there?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth!
He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.

Perhaps a reference to Elijah’s contest with the false prophets of Ba’al (1st Kings 18.27)

The LORD himself watches over you! The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.

Surely a cultic reference to the worship of the sun and the moon by the Ba’al worshipers. Yet, the people of God need not fear the natural or the pseudo-supernatural.

The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.
The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.
(Psa 121:1-8 NLT)

So no, our help doesn’t come from the mountains. It comes from YHWH. The Psalmists opposes those mountains.

Is it just me of when you read LORD the voice in your head gets louder? But, read it aloud if you need too.

Post By Joel Watts (9,935 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, working on the use of Deuteronomy in the Fourth Gospel. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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