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Trusting God in all seasons of life is the only way to live

Updated: Sep 13

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1, ESV

Have you ever wondered why the Psalmist lifts his eyes to the hills or the mountains? Have you ever wondered what exactly the comfort is in knowing that your help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth?

In answering these questions, some commentaries immediately jump to a true inference but shed a more negative light on the effect of the mountain. Matthew Henry writes the following: "We must not rely upon creatures, upon men and means, instruments and second causes, nor make flesh our arm: 'Shall I lift up my eyes to the hills?”—so some read it. “Does my help come thence? Shall I depend upon the powers of the earth, upon the strength of the hills, upon princes and great men, who, like hills, fill the earth, and hold up their heads towards heaven? No; in vain is salvation hoped for from hills and mountains, Jer. 3:23. I never expect help to come from them; my confidence is in God only.' [1]"

Others take the hills mentioned to refer to the Holy City (Jerusalem) and/or the temple that was built on a hill [2] and hence take a more positive light on the mention of the mountain.

Both might be true. I would, however, like to give some background as to how this passage came to be viewed by me as formed by my experience growing up.

When I was about 13 years old, I remember opening a book by Bear Grylls called Facing Up. It's about how Bear managed to climb Mount Everest despite him having suffered a back injury in a parachute incident some years earlier when he was part of the SAS. When I opened up the book for the first time, I remember seeing the opening verse of Psalm 121 printed on the book's inner cover. My dad takes great interest in mountaineering, and there was no shortage of books on the most awe-inspiring mountains planet Earth has to offer and the men who conquered them. Moreover, in 2014, we had the privilege of travelling to the Swiss alps to see mountains such as the Eiger, the Jungfrau and Mont Blanc. It is perhaps these two impressions of Grylls' book and the alps that have led me to always imagine the grandest mountains whenever we enter a Sunday service and the pastor opens up by quoting Psalm 121.

In more recent years, I've come to appreciate the works of Cornelius Van Til. Van Til was an American-Dutch Reformed theologian who was a professor of apologetics at the Westminster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. Van Til taught me to reorient my entire view of the world. You see, it came very naturally for me (and I believe everyone else who was born into sin) to view the world as something that is just there, something that is a conglomeration of brute facts with no purpose and meaning. When we study or act in this world (i.e. when doing science, history, sport, mountaineering) we aren't doing anything religious. The world is not personalistic, but merely dead matter in motion. But this is not the case. This world is God's world. This world contains nothing that does not display the creativity of its Creator. The air we breathe, the sun that bakes our skin, the trees that whistle in the wind, the dogs that bark in the distance, the clouds that form and the rain that falls are all in His hands. He created this world, and He maintains it in a way that is conducive to our existence because of His common grace. Because of this, the present objects of creation and the historical development of the world contain objective value and are worthy to be studied.

Van Til's teaching (which, mind you, is nothing other than what is found in Scripture) is perhaps then the third aspect that informed my view of Psalm 121:1. Why does the Psalmist raise his eyes toward the mountains? Surely the Psalmist knows that the mountain can't do anything for him (as Matthew Henry's commentary indicates). The Psalmist himself confirms this when he thereafter declares that his help comes from the Lord. So, what's the use in mentioning the mountain?

In Scripture (and through common experience) mountains are the ultimate symbols of stability. For example, Mount Everest (Earth's highest mountain above sea level) was sitting in place when the First World war broke out in 1914. It was towering over people during the Age of Discovery in the 15th-16th century when Hernán Cortés conquered Mexico. It was there when John Calvin wrote his Institutes of the Christian Religion. It was idly baking in the sun during the Reformation. It was there during the Black Death (when a third of the world's population was wiped out). It was there when Jesus was crucified. It was there when David was anointed king over Israel. It was there when Moses led Israel out of their Egyptian slavery. Mount Everest was there during periods of prosperity and peace throughout all ages.

It makes sense that when Jesus spoke of mountains being moved, or even more dramatically 'thrown into the sea', as the result of faithful prayer (Matthew 17:20; 21:21), he was deliberately invoking a seeming impossibility.

A common experience of creation teaches that mountains don't move. They truly are the epitome of stability and unchangingness.

But why don't mountains move or change? Is the immovability of a mountain a brute fact that just is? Did God look down toward Creation to see the majesty of the mountains and henceforth decided that it would make a useful metaphor for use in the Bible? No. God is the Creator-sustainer of all that is. He created and sustains the mountains as part of his general revelation to all mankind. Whenever we look at mountains and it provokes a sense of awe and wonder in us, it should immediately lead us to contemplate our Creator who is the Ancient of Days. God is not merely older than the mountains, he completely transcends time as the Creator of time itself. Before Creation, there was God. He did not draw inspiration for anything He made from any other source than Himself. When God created mountains, the intention (as with all other things in creation) was that it should lead us to contemplate Him. God's inspired Word is full of these types of analogies:

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Psalm 18:2, ESV

The lower is made for the higher [3]. God knows exactly how to express Himself in creation so that we, his finite creatures, can come to a true knowledge of who He is, even though He would forever remain incomprehensible to us.

And so, the God who made us is like the mountains in that He is unchanging, independent, incomprehensible and impassible (to mention a few attributes). He is absolutely awe-inspiring. God's unchanging nature and His impassibility turn out to be the greatest comfort for the Christian that might be enduring trials. If God were someone that could be affected or surprised by something that happens in time (creation), He would not be a source of comfort. He would be just like us: in the dark and uncertain about the future. But, like the mountains, He remains unshakable by His own creation. Even more than this, he holds the entirety of creation in His hands, and nothing happens outside of His will or decree.

In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.

Ecclesiastes 7:14-16, ESV

But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors! Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love!

Psalm 31:14-15, ESV

Unlike the mountains He made, God is not an idle observer of our trials and difficulties. He is intimately involved in our affairs. He ordained that the Earth would orbit the sun. He ordained where the oceans would stop and land would start (Gen. 1). He ordained the borders of nations and the groupings of people (Acts 17:26). He ordained when you will be born, your looks, talents, economic circumstances, family, wife/husband, children, trials and tribulations, and your death (Psalm 139). God knows you through and through. He knows your heart, thoughts and actions. There is nothing in the makeup of you as a person that can be hidden from His sight: "If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!"

This Biblical view of God's unchanging nature and His infallible knowledge of you as a person should be enough to make any of us shake in our boots. God knows me? Does God really know everything about me? Everything I've done, thought and spoken? If so, He must know of my most grievous sins. Even those sins I've never mentioned to anyone out of pure shame for my actions. This is a scary thought. In keeping with our theme of mountains, in the book Revelation, the apostle John saw a vision of the last judgement:

When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

Revelation 6:12:17, ESV John sees how the sinners of the world attempt to hide from the all-seeing eye of God's judgement. God removes every last vestige of false stability in creation (i.e. the mountains - everything you believed you could place your trust on). The sinners attempt to hide among the mountains, even going so far as asking the mountains to fall on them so that they might not face the Lord. Can you imagine rather wishing to be crushed by a mountain than to face the judgement of the Lord? Ironically, those who do not seek the Lord will be crushed by the Mountain, who is the Lord Himself, who was merely reflected in the mountains of this world.

How then can the Psalmist of Psalm 121 declare that "My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth" if the Lord is the one from whose wrath we must be freed? The amazing thing is that the same unchanging Lord whose wrath we have kindled has also made a way for us. God has become man in the person of Jesus Christ. He lived the perfect life that we could not live. He died on the cross, and on the cross, He endured the wrath of that Father that was reserved for our sins against Him on our behalf. Jesus is the propitiatory sacrifice. He died and rose again after three days in the defeat of death. The love that God displayed toward us when He sent His Son to die on the cross, like the unchanging mountains, has its origin in the unchanging being of God. Christ died for us whilst we were still sinners (Rom. 3), so it cannot be the result of anything that we've done or given God.

When we look at the mountains we need not fear that we've irreparably offended the Ancient of Days. He has made provision. He has displayed a greater unchanging and unconditional love toward His people than we can ever imagine. The God who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow has placed His love upon us. He has promised that He will take care of His children and that He will work all things to the good of those who love Him, and He has promised this based on His own good will (Ex. 33:19, Rom. 9:15). This provides eternal security.

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 forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121:7-8, ESV

And so we need not fear for our lives anymore. Our God is in control. He has made a way for us. We have been saved by faith through grace. If we trust in God, we place our trust in the only place where stability and true peace can be found: The Creator and sustainer of all things. Sure this world might hit us with curveballs, we might suffer loss, and it might feel like we're drowning in uncertainty - but as Mount Everest stood through millennia of turmoil and peace, so our God stands as the immovable rock Who not only remains unphased by the things that scare us, but Who controls the very conditions of our trials and who can command the seas of unrest to rest whenever He pleases (Mark 4:39). It's easier said than done, but our peace lay not in what certainties we might think we can secure in creation (recent events relating to Covid-19 have taught us that). Our peace lies in the fact that there is no mystery for our God, that He is in control, that He loves us, and that He works everything according to His good will.

The profound truth

Our family had to endure a few trials in the month of June. We spent lots of time in prayer, and we had conversations that most likely shaped our future. Through all of this, the profound truth of the preceding became clear to us all.

Before June started, Mount Everest was firmly overlooking the border of China and Nepal. When June ended and all we had to endure had transpired, Mount Everest was still standing.

The goats that might have wandered the foot of the mountain when the month started is no longer there. The mountaineers that were sleeping at the base camp have since moved on. The weather might have changed from snowy to sunny. The circumstances around the mountain have changed, but the mountain itself remains as it was.

In the same way, our God, who was there when He uttered the first words of creation, who was there throughout history, who was there when June began, and who was there when June ended, is still here with us today - and He remains absolute - a rock on Who we can depend. In Creation circumstances change, people come and ago, and seasons come and go, but God remains steadfast. This distinction between the Creator and creature is incredibly important.

Psalm 46, another popular Psalm in times of need starts off like this:

God is our refuge and strength, very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

Psalm 46:1-3, ESV

The mountains, although awe-inspiring and seemingly eternal, should merely remind us of the God who is the one who sustains them over time. When (God-forbid) the day comes that Everest breaks in two and gets thrown into the sea, the Earth shakes, and the waves of trials and tribulations hit us from all sides as uncertainty plagues our consciousness and we desperately seek stability and peace, we must not forget that there is nothing in creation that can offer that which we were only supposed to find with our Creator. He is our refuge and strength. He is a very present help in trouble. We need not fear even if it seems like the earth is giving way - because God is in control of absolutely everything.

Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Psalm 46:8-11, ESV


[1] Psalm 121 Bible Commentary - Matthew Henry (complete). 2022. Psalm 121 Bible Commentary - Matthew Henry (complete). [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 04 July 2022].

[2] See the Reformation Study Bible's commentary on Psalm 121.

[3] Cornelius Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Phillipsburg, NJ, 1979), 66.


Published by Apologetics Central

At Apologetics Central, we are committed to providing biblically grounded, Reformed presuppositional apologetics resources to equip believers in defending the Christian faith. As a ministry, we strive to uphold the truth of God's word and present it winsomely to a world in need of the gospel.

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