Psalm 121: Shall I lift up my eyes to the hills?

Psalm 121--1-2

On September 11, 2017, 911-Remembrance and Service Day, the nation is encouraged to remember, reflect, and volunteer. As the nation recovers from the ravages of some of the most destructive hurricanes on record, we recognize the overwhelming need for volunteers.

The Verse of the Day for September 11, 2017 is a familiar passage from Psalm 121 celebrating God’s guardian care for His people, as we look to God for the help the nation so desperately needs.

Psalm 121:1-2 in the Amplified Bible Classic Edition:

I will lift up my eyes to the hills [around Jerusalem, to sacred Mount Zion and Mount Moriah]—from whence shall my help come?

My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.

KC Pillai and other scholars point out that the first verse of Psalm 121 is often rendered as a statement when in actuality it should be a question. In contrast to the rendering of in the verse 1 in other versions, such as the King James, which opens with “I will lift up my eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help”, Pillai suggests that the verse should be read: “Shall I lift up my eyes to the hills? From whence comes my help?” The answer follows in verse two: “My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.”

This particular psalm is said to be among the Psalms of Degrees or Songs (Psalms) of Ascent. Psalms 120-134 comprise a “hymn book” from which pilgrims sang as they were ascending Mount Zion, the highest point in Jerusalem, the place of celebration of the annual feasts mandated by God for the Children of Israel.  Paul Stroble, in his blog devoted to this psalm points out that “Clift McCann writes in The New Interpreter’s Bible that these psalms are all short enough to be memorized and several contain references to everyday life, implying that these psalms reflect the experiences of everyday people traveling or arriving at Jerusalem.”

Stroble, also mentions that various writers refer to Psalm 121 as “the psalm for the journey of life,” and “the psalm for sojourners.”  He continues his discussion of the merits of this psalm that he finds especially meaningful “because of the comfort of its promises as one travels literally and figuratively.” Indeed, Zion is the ultimate destination of those pilgrims journeying to Jerusalem and those sojourning through life, as this poetic excerpt reveals:


For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.

Psalm 132:13


To ascend the holy hill, the quest to reach Mount Zion,

To dwell in that high mountain, a place of untold beauty.

Still onward and upward in this lifelong journey,

We situate ourselves in an accurate position,

As our obedience activates the blessings of God.

God’s spirit overflows and floods our hearts with new song.

We conclude with a composition inspired by Psalm 121 offered by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

Psalm 121 is a favorite Psalm of many believers. It may be hard to choose, but do you have a favorite Psalm? Tell us about it.


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2 Responses to “Psalm 121: Shall I lift up my eyes to the hills?”

  1. indianeskitchen Says:

    Wow, never really thought about it. Now I will!

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