Do you need help today? Are you requiring some divine assistance? Have dangers or temptations arrived at the dawn of a new month? If so, John Calvin has a word for you! The paragraph below includes Calvin’s thoughts on Psalm 121–one of the Hebrew songs of ascent. It is a song bursting with confidence in God. Where should we look when we are in need? The Lord! “There is no assured help but in God alone.”
Calvin can be a tough read for those of us “educated” in the government schools. However, his comments from some five hundred years ago are a gold mine if you take the time to meditate upon them. If you are looking for the large nuggets, I’ve hi-lighted them in bold. Be encouraged as you read.
“I will lift up my eyes to the hills–where does my help come from?” What then is the meaning of this unsettled looking of the writer, who casts his eyes on this side and now on that, as if faith directed him not to God? The thoughts of the godly are never so stayed upon the Word of God as not to be carried away at the first impulse to some allurements and especially when dangers disquiet us, or when we are assailed with sore temptations, it is scarcely possible for us, for our so being inclined to the earth, not to be moved by the enticements presented to us, until our minds put a bridle upon themselves, and turn them back to God. Whatever we may think, would the author say, all the hopes which draw us away from God are vain and delusive. The writer delcares that those lose their plans who, disregarding God, gaze to a distance all around them, and make long and devious circuits in quest of remedies to their troubles. It is indeed certain, that in thus speaking of himself, he exhibits to us a malady with which all mankind are inflicted; but still, it will not be unsuitable to suppose, that he was prompted to speak in this manner from his own experience; for such is the inconstancy natural to us, that so soon as we are smitten with any fear, we turn our eyes in every direction, until faith, drawing us back from all these erratic wanderings, directs us exclusively to God. All the difference between believers and unbelievers in this respect is, that although all are prone to be deceived, and easily cheated by impostors, yet Satan bewitches unbelievers by his enchantments; whereas, in regard to believers, God corrects the vice of their nature, and does not permit them to persevere in going astray. The meaning of the author is abundantly obvious, which is, that although all the helps of the world, even the mightiest, should offer themselves to us, yet we ought not to seek safety anywhere but in God, yes, rather, that when men shall have long wearied themselves in hunting after remedies, not in one quarter and now in another, they will at length find from experience, that there is no assured help but in God alone” (Heart Aflame: Daily Readings from Calvin on the Psalms, P&R Publishing, 1999, p.331 [I changed the word prophet to author and/or writer]).