I Lift My Eyes up to the Hills

Welcome  I am drawn to the word mountain like a magnet.  It could say “mountains of dirty diapers” and I would still pick out that single word and be drawn closer just to see what is being talked about.  As it turns out, I have found different versions of Bible text that show Psalm 121 reading “I lift my eyes to the mountains.”  I use the Women’s Devotional Bible, New International Version, 2nd Edition, published by Zondervan.  My text of Psalm 121 states, “I lift my eyes to the hills–where does my help come from?”  It turns out to also be used in one of my favorite contemporary Christian songs, Praise You in this Storm, by Casting Crowns.  All of these “noticings” led me to spend time in Psalm 121 earlier this week.

I lift my eyes up to the hills
A verse-by-verse study devotional and prayer from Psalm 121

Food For Thought  Psalm 121 is a short book of only eight verses.  It begins with the words “a song of ascents.”  I wasn’t sure what that meant, so I looked it up on the computer, and along with some Hebrew that I couldn’t read or understand, I found this statement:  “Song of Ascents is a title given to fifteen of the Psalms, 120–134, also called Gradual Psalms, Songs of Degrees, Songs of Steps or Pilgrim Songs.”  This doesn’t really clarify anything for me.  Then I found a website called “Quizlet” and there was a study set called Psalms Flashcards with so many facts about the book of Psalms.  It was very helpful.  The songs of ascent are referring to the fact that Jerusalem sits a half mile above sea level, so the exiles would have to ascend to reach the city.  These fifteen psalms are thought to be written in commemoration of the exiles returning from Babylon to Jerusalem.  This makes sense when we think about the words, “I lift my eyes up to the hills (or mountains.)

So many of the Psalms are comforting in times of need and apply to our lives in many situations.  Psalm 121 is no exception for me.  I want to take some time to comment on each of the eight verses in this passage.

Verse 1  “I lift my eyes up to the hills–where does my help come from?”  Remember back to our action steps from Monday.  Our second action step was seeking.  By lifting my eyes up I am actively seeking God and keeping my focus on Him.  Choosing this action will result in some great comfort, protection, and peace.

Verse 2  “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”  I recognize that my help comes from the Lord, in all things.  I do not believe in coincidences or “luck.”  God sends people and events into our lives for a reason.  I am also recognizing the incredible power that God has when I acknowledge He is the creator of all things.

Verse 3-4  “He will not let your foot slip–he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”  God never sleeps.  He is always there.  He is dependable to infinity.  There is no time that I cannot bring my cares to Him.  He is even there when my body and mind are sleeping and I cannot actively seek Him.  This is comforting for so many reasons!

Verse 5-6  “The Lord watches over you–the Lord is your shade at our right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.”  God watches and protects us day and night.  Imagine…our loving God is capable of watching each and every individual over this entire planet, at the same time, in any given environment, regardless of hour or season.  It’s hard for my human mind to comprehend, but I am in awe of this great power.

Verse 7  “The Lord will keep you from all harm–he will watch over your life”  We can be protected from HARM, but remember this is not saying we will be spared of trials and struggles.  He will watch over my life and guide me as long as I am actively seeking Him.  It’s taken a lot of years to realize that in some of my most discouraging circumstances, He was still protecting me from harm.  My worst situations in life could have been considerably worse had God not been protecting me from harm.  The inconvenience of car repairs and insurance hassles are still better than injury, or worse, resulting from the car accident where God protected me from harm.  The long wait for my husband was God’s way of protecting me from harmful relationships that could have ended in bad situations.  A job crisis left me with a broken spirit, but God protected me with a way out.  Having only one child seemed like a trial or punishment at one point, but now I realize God likely knew that we would go to one income and have a smaller budget.  With one child, we are still able to provide her with experiences and things that she may have missed out on otherwise.  I had surgery to remove ovaries, but was not cancer, protected from harm again.

Verse 8  “the Lord will watch over your coming and going, both now and forevermore.”  God’s protection is forever and this protection is available to anyone who seeks Him and chooses to believe.  This protection is not restricted by geographical location or time constraints.  How can we not sing praise and rejoice in these truths?

Today’s Prayer  My Dear Heavenly Father, I am most grateful for Your constant protection, keeping me from all harm.  Thank You for not turning Your eyes from me, even when I have acted like I didn’t need You in my life.  Thank You for watching out for me, and my family and friends, through our sleep and our waking hours.  We praise You for Your love and grace and mercy.  In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.

Today’s Scriptures  Of course we want to take time to read Psalm 121 today, but I found a few additional verses that echo the idea of God’s protection for us.  I love how so many concepts are repeated for us throughout God’s word, so we can be sure to trust their wisdom and commit them to our hearts.  The promise of God’s help and unswaying devotion to us, His children, is one of those concepts, as stated in the following.

Psalm 91:9-11  “If you make the Most High your dwelling–even the Lord, who is my refuge–then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.  For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”

2 Thessalonians 3:3  “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”

Nahum 1:7  “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in him”

Today’s Recipe  I’m going back to the hills now.  I’m an Ozark hill girl, myself.  I was born and raised in the Ozark hills of southern Missouri.  My momma is an Ozark hill girl, and so was her momma and her momma’s momma.  Yes, I come from a long line of Ozarks women.  While I no longer live in the Ozarks, many of my cooking and baking preferences are reflective of my family heritage.  For today’s recipe, I’d like to share Ozark Apple Walnut Pudding, which is like a cross between a biscuit-y cobbler and a coffee cake.  Or think of a bread pudding, sort of, with apples and nuts.  Either way, it’s really yummy.

Back in the day, hill folks cooked with what was available and in late fall that often meant apples and walnuts.  There’s few other ingredients needed for the traditional version of this dish.  For today’s recipe, I have made it “small batch,” tweaked some ingredients to make it diabetic-friendly for my husband, and it’s considerably less labor intensive, as we have chopped walnuts available in supermarkets everywhere.  This dish tastes great with some freshly whipped sweetened cream, or you can “get all fancy” and put a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Ozark Apple Walnut Pudding
A cross between a biscuit-y cobbler and a coffee cake, it’s just sweet enough with apples and brown sugar.

Ozark Apple Walnut Pudding (serves 4)

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup Splenda brown sugar blend (you can substitute 3/4 cup regular brown sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 large baking apple, cored, peeled, and chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in medium bowl.
In separate bowl, whisk together egg, brown sugar, and vanilla.
Gently combine the flour mixture into egg mixture, stirring until just combined.
Stir in prepared apples and nuts.
Spray a casserole or deep dish pie plate with nonstick cooking spray. Place pudding in dish and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
Do not overbake. Its done when the middle is just set. Cool. Serve with some vanilla ice cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon.
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