I lift up my eyes to the mountains (Psalm 121)

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Psalm 121 is a song of ascents, part of a group of Psalms 120-134 traditionally sung by Jewish pilgrims as they ascended to Jerusalem for the three major festivals. This particular psalm encourages believers to trust in the Lord for protection and provision. The passage shifts the focus from human insecurity and vulnerability to divine omnipotence and mercy.

The psalmist looks up to the hills (verses 1-2) questioning where help might come from, and answers that help comes from the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth. The Hebrew term עֶזְרִי [ezri], meaning "my help," emphasizes reliance not on the hills themselves, which might evoke images of other gods or high places of worship, but on the Lord.

In verses 3-4, God is portrayed as the protector who does not let the foot slip and who never sleeps. The term לֹא־יָנוּם [lo yanum], meaning "He who does not slumber," underscores the vigilant, constant care of God over His people. God is ever-watchful and attentive to His creation, contrasting the divine nature with human limitations.

The Lord is portreyed in verses 5-8 as שֹׁמְרֶךָ [shomrecha] "your protector." The imagery of protection from elements like the sun (שֶׁמֶשׁ [shemesh]) and the moon (יָרֵחַ [yareach]) signifies comprehensive care in all circumstances. Further in verses 7-8 the term שָׁמַר [shamar], meaning "to keep/watch over," is repeated for emphasis, highlighting God's perpetual guardianship. The imagery of God as a protector from daily and nightly dangers speaks to His comprehensive care over every aspect of life. This protection is not just physical but also spiritual, guarding against seen and unseen threats.

Psalm 121 serves as a powerful reminder of God's omnipresence, omnipotence, and unfailing love for His people. Its recitation in times of journey or uncertainty has provided comfort and assurance to generations of believers, reinforcing the belief in God's unwavering support and care.


Word Meaning
שִׁיר song
לְ to
הַ definite article
מַעֲלָה ascent, step, stair
נשׂא lift, carry
עַיִן spring; eye; look
אֲנִי I
אֶל towards
הַר mountain
מִן from, out of

Biblical text

121:1שִׁ֗יר לַֽמַּ֫עֲל֥וֹת אֶשָּׂ֣א עֵ֭ינַי אֶל־הֶהָרִ֑ים מֵ֝אַ֗יִן יָבֹ֥א עֶזְרִֽי׃2עֶ֭זְרִי מֵעִ֣ם יְהוָ֑ה עֹ֝שֵׂ֗ה שָׁמַ֥יִם וָאָֽרֶץ׃3אַל־יִתֵּ֣ן לַמּ֣וֹט רַגְלֶ֑ךָ אַל־יָ֝נ֗וּם שֹֽׁמְרֶֽךָ׃4הִנֵּ֣ה לֹֽא־יָ֭נוּם וְלֹ֣א יִישָׁ֑ן שׁ֝וֹמֵ֗ר יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃5יְהוָ֥ה שֹׁמְרֶ֑ךָ יְהוָ֥ה צִ֝לְּךָ֗ עַל־יַ֥ד יְמִינֶֽךָ׃6יוֹמָ֗ם הַשֶּׁ֥מֶשׁ לֹֽא־יַכֶּ֗כָּה וְיָרֵ֥חַ בַּלָּֽיְלָה׃7יְֽהוָ֗ה יִשְׁמָרְךָ֥ מִכָּל־רָ֑ע יִ֝שְׁמֹ֗ר אֶת־נַפְשֶֽׁךָ׃8יְֽהוָ֗ה יִשְׁמָר־צֵאתְךָ֥ וּבוֹאֶ֑ךָ מֵֽ֝עַתָּ֗ה וְעַד־עוֹלָֽם׃