Each night I do some physical stretches and then read a few chapters in the Book of Psalms to work out the kinks and stresses of the day before going to sleep.
I love the rhythm and poetry of the earlier translations of the Psalms, but I sometimes find them difficult to understand, so I also read them in the New English Translation which puts the original language into modern words. However, even when reading them in plain English, I have trouble identifying with King David’s comments about his struggles with enemies. I don’t feel like I have any real enemies. I’ve certainly never had to flee for my life from those wishing to do me harm as he did. Only when I realize that his words apply equally to the spiritual battles we all face can I begin to put myself into his situations.
Growing up hearing the King James Version, the words of Psalm 121:1, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help,” didn’t sound like a question. As a child, I watched TV shows of the Old West, where when the heroes were in the most dire straits, a bugle rang out and the cavalry soldiers appeared just in the nick of time. So it was only natural that when reading or hearing this Psalm, I would imagine a troop of soldiers from Fort Apache thundering down the slopes to King David’s aid.
Reading and studying later Bible translations, I realized my error. The psalm referred to the futility of looking to the mountains for salvation when all our hope is in the Lord. While pioneers of the Old West often relied on the cavalry to protect them, physically, because of Calvary we can have eternal salvation in this very day.
While the cavalry are mounted soldiers, Calvary refers to Golgotha, the site of Christ’s crucifixion.
I’ve learned when I’m struggling and feel like I’m in dire straits, I don’t need to hope for the cavalry to come to my rescue because I’ve already received salvation at Calvary.
I look up toward the hills.Psalm 121 (NET)
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Creator of heaven and earth.
It’s so easy to get the words “cavalry” and “Calvary” confused. One way is to remember the words of that old hymn, by William R. Newell, “At Calvary”:
Years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified,
Knowing not it was for me He died