I wonder if you, like me, wondered if the number of the psalm was correct, and we were looking at another hymn based in Psalm 121. Both psalms start with us lifting our eyes, but this hymn is listed as being based on Psalm 123 in Psalms for All Seasons, so we can set those reservations aside.
I have been struck by the opening (shared by both psalms) with the call to lift our eyes. Writing at a time when the rain has just about wiped out the drought of the summer, it feels that I rarely lift my eyes when out – watching for puddles and keeping the rain out of my face. By doing that, I am reduced to looking at mud and dead leaves – hardly designed to lift my spirits.
Yet when I do lift my eyes, I see so much that I miss when my head is down – the beautiful shape of winter trees, the birds gathering together, a beautiful sunset. Oh, and a pair of trainers very high in a tall tree, showing some ingenuity! (how did they get there?)
Sometimes, our spiritual life can be a bit like a winter walk – grey days with our heads down, only seeing the mess of life. When we do lift our eyes to the One enthroned above, we glimpse a richer life, leading us to worship, and the reassurance of help from our Lord.
The last line of each verse mentions the help of the Lord – reminding us of God’s love, care and attention to each one of us – the help which is there through the toughest times in our lives.
Finally, this hymn reaches beyond the psalm to include the culmination of God’s love in sending his Son, with references to his crucifixion – the greatest love and surest help that could be shown to us.
I lift my eyes to Calvary, there the Lord Jesus bled for me; no greater love could ever be, no surer help.
The Rev’d Sue Cossey, NSM and Synod Pastoral Advisor, Bristol. Member of Zion United Church, Frampton Cotterell