One of my favorite lines in one of my favorite plays is the one near the end of “The Sound of Music”. It’s a quote from a Psalm near the very end, just before the von Trappe family attempts to escape the Nazis. When it seems all hope is lost, Mother Superior says “Haven’t you read: ‘I will lift up mine eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help!’ “. The implication is that the hills are their friends; they are God’s way of getting them out of Austria to Switzerland and safety. The family is encouraged on their journey that God is with them, so they need not fear. They file out, with strains of the inspirational “Climb Every Mountain” soaring into the night.
A great ending, based on the real story of their escape. It’s unfortunate, though, that the verse is actually misquoted. It comes from beginning of Psalm 121. Translated from the Hebrew, in the New King James Version it reads: “I will lift my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help?” The second part is actually not a statement, but a question. The play and movies scripts imply the answer, but they seem to state that their help is coming from the hills, as if the hills themselves will lend them assistance. The next statement in the Psalm answers the question: “My help comes from the Lord…” There’s the true answer! The psalmist seems to be looking into the hills in despair, crying out, searching for the source of help. Then, relief – the Lord is the source of my help!
Now, the statement in the play suggests that the Lord will be their help as they face the hills, but doesn’t explicitly say it. I’m willing to let the slight distortion slide – everybody knows that their faith is in the Lord; He will be their helper as they move through the mountains to freedom (and, eventually, America). And even if it didn’t happen quite that way in real life, their dependence on the Lord as their help is clearly expressed.
Oh, you noticed (those of you who know the Psalm or those of you who looked it up) that the verse continues. The whole sentence is: “My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” Isn’t that interesting? A statement of God being the Creator in a verse promising that the Lord will help us in whatever difficult situation is coming at us. But it’s not uncommon in Scripture – in fact, it happens fairly often. Frequently, when God is mentioned in the Bible, He is defined by Creation. He is the Creator!
Of course, the Bible states that at the very beginning. Genesis 1 is a very clear, straightforward (but profoundly deep) narrative of what God (called Elohim, which means God as the Creator and the Judge) did to create the universe. Interesting, that the word for God in Hebrew, Elohim, is the plural form of the word El, which is the singular for God or “the Strong One.” Why would the Bible use the plural form for God when the Bible makes it very clear that there is only ONE God? (As in Deuteronomy 6:4 – “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. …”) Could it perchance be an indication, in the very first verse of the Bible, of the doctrine of the Trinity? Not only that, but in the very next verse, it mentions the Holy Spirit (“… and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”) and in verse 3, God speaks and creates light. That’s the Word of God, His Son, Jesus! And there is an odd (if there’s only one God) use of the plural again in verse 26 : Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”
Why “us” and “our”? It could just as easily said “Let Me make man in My image, after My likeness” – but it doesn’t. (That’s OK – it makes me say “Wow!”, too!)
There are far too many verses in the Bible that deal with God as the Creator, so we’ll have to hit just a few. An interesting reference is in one of the most well-known and quoted sections of Scripture, The Ten Commandments. After telling the people of Israel to “Remember the Sabbath day,” God (Yahweh, the self-existent One) tells them why in Exodus 20:11: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. The Sabbath observation was connected to the seventh day of Creation. God wanted His people to understand that HE is the source of all their needs; they need to rest completely in Him.
In Deuteronomy 4:32, when Moses is speaking for God and giving the people of Israel’s God’s instructions to them, He calls attention to all the magnificent and amazing things God has done for them: “For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard?” What God has done for the people of Israel, making this relatively small group of freed slaves into a great nation, is as amazing a feat as His own Creation!
In the Historical Books, from Joshua to Nehemiah, God is frequently spoken of as the Creator. For example, in II Kings 18: 15, listen to King Hezekiah in the 8th Century BC, addressing God in prayer before asking Him to help his nation against the Assyrians: And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said: “O LORD, the God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. His role as Creator is central to His identity. And in the 5th Century BC, nearly the last words written in the Old Testament, in Nehemiah 9:6, as the Levites pray to ask God to forgive Israel as a nation, they address Him in this way: “You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. …” The fact that God is Creator is NOT incidental – it is CENTRAL!
It’s no different in the Wisdom Books. Job is full of references to God as Creator. God as Creator is the central identity when God speaks to Job at the end of the book; God basically says “Where were you, Job, when I did all this (that is, create everything)?” He is identified as Creator numerous times in Psalms and Proverbs. In fact, there are several Psalms called “Nature Psalms”, which specifically praise God through praising the natural world. In Psalm 104, for example, the psalmist says: You who laid the foundations of the earth,
So that it should not be moved forever, … In Ecclesiastes 12:1, Solomon writes, as an older man giving advice to a younger man: “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; … He could have identified God in a lot of other ways.
The Prophets just as often repeat the fact that the God who speaks through them is the Creator. For just one example, listen to Isaiah in Chapter 40 of his prophetic book:
12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
Measured heaven with a span
And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure?
Weighed the mountains in scales
And the hills in a balance?
25 “To whom then will you liken Me,
Or to whom shall I be equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high, And see who has created these things,
Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name,
By the greatness of His might and the strength of His power;
Not one is missing.
It continues right into the New Testament – God is identified as Creator. But not only God the Father, but God the Son, who came to earth as Jesus of Nazareth. Just think: John, who wrote the fourth gospel in 96 AD, the last one to be written, could have started the story of Jesus in any number of different ways. All you need to do is look at the very different ways the other three gospel writers started. But John starts by immediately connecting Jesus with Genesis 1, with the very same words! “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and without Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” John 1:1 – 3 And who is the Word? That’s obvious from the context – it’s Jesus! One of Jesus’ greatest miracles, mentioned significantly in all four gospels, is a creation miracle: the feeding of the 5000. Jesus just created fish and bread. Paul refers to Jesus as Creator in several places, but especially in his letter to the Colossians. In Colossians 1:15 – 17, he not only says that Jesus is the Creator, but that He holds the entire universe together: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
The New Testament ends with the book of the Revelation – and Jesus is STILL identified as the Creator. In Revelation 4, Jesus is being worshiped in heaven, with the words: “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11) They could give Him the glory He deserves in a lot of different ways… but that’s how He’s identified. And even in the last chapter – Revelation 22 – identifying Jesus as the Creator remains a priority. Look at one of the last verses – Jesus speaking, as written down by John: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Revelation 22: 13.
Yeah – it’s important.
Consider the whole Psalm:
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
If we know Him, the Creator of all that we see, we can trust in Him for everything. There is no safer place in the universe to be than in His loving hand!