Mountaintops (3—scripture and song)

“I will lift up mine eyes to the hills.”

Scrawled by David and passed down to us in Psalm 121, this phrase’s popularity seems perpetual.

Many tend to misapply the thought, not reading carefully.  For instance, the mama nun in The Sound of Music was guilty.   The exhortation is not to look at the mountains as savior, or as source, or even as inspiration.  It’s not “… hills, from whence cometh my help,” period.  No.  It’s “… hills.  Whence cometh my help?  My help comes from the LORD.”  Big difference.  Since I love mountain scenery so much, this was not an easy pill for me to swallow.

Randall Thompson’s choral masterwork, while perhaps more difficult to grasp, seems to have a more apt, biblically sound message (quoting directly can, but does not always, do that).  The text is from Isaiah 30:29.

Ye shall have a song,
As in the night when a holy solemnity is kept;
And gladness of heart,
As when one goeth with a pipe
To come into the mountain of the Lord.

Anyone who’s sung or heard this music live senses the power, the approach to God’s throne.  The mountain is in its place—a symbol of the dwelling of the LORD.  For a fuller treatment of the emotional and spiritual impact of this song, go here, but in the meantime, meditate on God’s presence in His “holy mountain.”  Our help comes from the LORD, not from an emotional mountaintop.  Eschatologically speaking, joining in the centuries-old marana tha cry wouldn’t be inappropriate!


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