Psalm 121 has long been one of my favorite psalms. I can’t count the times that I have turned to this psalm for encouragement and assurance. The first verse asks, “From where will my help come?” to which the second verse replies, “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Let that really sink in: the Lord of all, the creator of everything, God of gods is my helper. Almighty God cares about my individual wellbeing. How can I ever fear or forget to trust when I know that God keeps me night and day? What an amazing God!
This Sunday morning is the final Sunday of Lent before Holy Week, and the prelude that I am playing is a reflection of Psalm 121. I have really enjoyed preparing the psalm preludes and studying the corresponding psalms each week during this season. In Psalm 130, God is our hope. The psalm was a plea for God’s attention. The psalmist remembered to be still, to wait, and to hope in the Lord. Psalm 23 portrays God as our guide, our loving shepherd who is always with us. God cares for each of us individually and is always leading us even through the valleys of life. In Psalm 51, God is our restoration. When we stray, God is the one who seeks us out, loving us so deeply and not giving up until we are restored to the joy of our salvation.
Understanding the messages of these psalms makes Psalm 121 the perfect culmination of this journey through these wonderful passages of Scripture. Each week, I have been reminded that my help comes from the Lord.
God is willing to do what is necessary in order to give us help, restoration, guidance and hope. Sending Jesus to suffer and die for us was the ultimate example of this. The offertory for this Sunday is an arrangement of “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.” The text paints a poignant picture of Christ’s suffering in our place. In arranging this piece, I sought to convey the dichotomy of bleak suffering and blessed hope that is uniquely woven into the act of Christ’s crucifixion. Listen for the repeating-note pattern throughout which symbolizes the hammering of the nails. The melody passing back and forth between the piano and the violin is meant to portray Jesus taking the punishment of sin away from us and onto himself. As you listen to the piece, think about the text as a reminder of the sacrifice God made to help us and restore us:
O sacred head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down;
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, thine only crown;
O sacred head, what glory, what bliss till now was thine!
Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call thee mine.
What thou, my Lord, hast suffered was all for sinners’ gain:
Mine, mine was the transgression, but thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ‘Tis I deserve thy place;
Look on me with thy favor, and grant to me thy grace.
What language shall I borrow to thank thee, dearest friend,
For this thy dying sorrow, thy pity without end?
O make me thine forever; and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to thee.
Psalm 121 is included below, and I would encourage you to meditate on these words this week. Let it serve as an encouragement each day. No matter if you are on top of the world or struggling through a valley, God is your keeper and is with you through it all.
I will 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.
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.