915) I’ll Get By With a Little Help From My Friends?

 

PSALM 121:1 —  I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

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     “From whence cometh my help?”  That’s a good question.  We all need a little help now and then, and it is good to know where to look when you need it.  But no matter how much is ever done, there is only so much anyone can do for another, and the rest has to be done or endured alone.  Even in the closest of relationships, there are those places in our hearts that remain hidden, those things that will never be understood, those thoughts and emotions just too hard to express or get across.  Not only that, but when your dying day comes, even if you are surrounded by family, friends, doctors, and nurses, it will still be just you there dying, just you that will take that next step into the unknown all alone.  “I’ll get by with a little help from my friends,” says an old song by the Beatles.  That’s a nice thought, and we can and will help each other in all kinds of ways, and that makes life better.  But in all the biggest ways, including the very biggest thing of all, death and what comes next, there is no friend that can help us ‘get by.’

     “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,” said the Psalmist.  We don’t know who wrote this Psalm, but David wrote many of the Psalms and he may have written this one.  I can imagine David having these thoughts as a shepherd boy, all alone out in the pasture tending to the flocks day and night, looking off to the hills on the horizon.  It was a dangerous job being a shepherd trying to protect the sheep from wild animals, thieves, and from the sheep’s own stupidity by which they could wander off into all kinds of trouble.  “I will lift up mine eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help?”  That question has been repeated by millions of people over the years, people who may have had some help, but were still quite alone in their troubles.  If the Psalmist, if we, always had all the help we ever needed, there would be no need to be looking off into the hills for help.  But we know we need more help than anyone can give us, and so we are looking.  We all know the feeling, and for that reason this Psalm has been a favorite of many.

     The Psalmist does not find the help he is looking for in the hills, but he does find help.  “From whence cometh my help?,” he asks, and then says, “My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.”  The Lord who made me and gave me life, and who can preserve my soul (verse seven).  There is comfort in hearing that our soul can be preserved, because we know what happens to our body.

     But the Bible says that you are more than a body.  You have a soul, and the Psalmist, looking for help, says, “My help cometh from the Lord… he shall preserve thy soul.”  That is getting the help we need.

     The Psalmist concludes by saying, “The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”  Think of it; even for evermore.  For evermore is beyond what any of us can imagine, but one thing we can understand.  The Lord does not mean for death to have the last word.  The Lord does not intend that anything end here, with a body in a casket or ashes in an urn.  That is only the body.  “The Lord shall preserve thy soul,” it says, and then, as we say in the Apostle’s Creed, “We believe in the resurrection of the body to life everlasting.”

     “From whence cometh my help?  My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.”

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WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS, Joseph Scriven, 1855

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
  All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
  Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
  O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
  Everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
  Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
  Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
  Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
  Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
  Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
  Take it to the Lord in prayer;
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
  Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
  Thou wilt find a solace there.

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O God, you who have prepared a place for my soul, prepare my soul for that place; prepare it with holiness, prepare it with desire; and even while it remains on earth, let it dwell in heaven with you.  Amen.

–Joseph Hall  (1574-1656)

“Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:  For mine eyes have seen thy salvation.”

–Simeon, in Luke 2:29-30

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Just for the fun of it, here are the Beatles singing “I’ll Get By With a Little Help From My Friends” (1967):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onnE7vOIyvs