If I am looking tired this morning it is because I arrived home late last night after three days hillwalking in the Lake District. I love the Lake District, I love the mountains and I love spending time walking and climbing in the mountains.
Climbing Hall Fells Ridge on Blancathra in the Lake District
I also love the Community Bible Study (CBS) I attend in Cardiff. In the CBS group we are currently looking at the Servants of God and spent the last few weeks thinking about David. David who started life as a poor shepherd boy, killed a giant and became Israel’s greatest king. David, a man after God’s own heart and an ancestor of Jesus.
After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’
David was also someone who also spent a lot of time in the mountains. As a Shepherd boy he spent time in the hill country tending the family flock. As a young man persecuted by Saul he fled and sought refuge in the mountains (1 Samuel 19). During last week’s CBS I was reminded that David the poet and musician wrote many of the Psalms and in the Psalms David employs much mountain imagery. I believe David, like me, also had a great affinity for the mountains.
Looking towards Derwent Water, Thirlmere and the Western Fells from the summit of Blencathra
Psalm 11 was written by David while he was being persecuted by Saul. Saul sought his life, hunting David like a grouse upon the moor or a game bird in the hills.
1 In the Lord I take refuge.
How then can you say to me:
“Flee like a bird to your mountain.
2 For look, the wicked bend their bows;
they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows
at the upright in heart.
3 When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”
Written at a time when David might be questioning God, wondering if God really knew best, we find through Psalm 11 that David could not be tempted to distrust God but buts all his faith in God. The Psalms ends with following beautiful reminder and encouragement:
For the Lord is righteous,
he loves justice;
the upright will see his face.
When I visit the mountains the walks and climbs I enjoy depend very much upon who I am mountaineering with. When I go with my wife we tend to take the broader, gentler paths. When I trek with my daughter we take the steeper more mountainous tracks. When I go with friends we often find ourselves on indistinct routes with loose stones and bands of rock that bar the way and need the use of both hands and feet to scramble over. The lines are often exposed and a slip or fall could have serious consequences. However, sometimes when we look back we see the steep, indistinct trails we have struggled with can be quickly climbed by wild animals. In North Wales I have seen feral goats skip effortlessly upwards. In Scotland and the Alps I have watched deer climb with sure-footed agility to the mountain tops and wished I found it so easy.
It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he causes me to stand on the heights.
34 He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
In Psalm 18 we see a clear comparison between a deer easily climbing a high mountain and how God gave David the strength and ability to face a difficult path or challenging situation. In hard times we often look for a miracle but the miracle is in the journey. In difficult times David looked to God and God kept David secure. Similarly, God will work miracles in our lives and if we look to him he will provide us with the strength and ability to overcome. In difficult times He will also keep us secure. If we trust in God He will make us as surefooted as a deer and enable us to rise up and stand on the mountain heights.
In the mountains you can sense that forces greater than ourselves exist. Like the mountains these are steadfast, spanning time they point to a reality beyond our day to day lives. The mountain’s eternity reminds you of your mortality
Enjoying the textures of sun baked rock and hearing the crunch of firm snow brings you in to a close relationship with nature. Beautifully sculptured rock, snow and ice flutings, extensive views, ever-changing light and fleeting moments invoke emotions that catch you by surprise. Through the grandeur of the mountains I believe God reveals himself.
In the Psalms David wrote that God created the mountains
You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas,
6 who formed the mountains by your power,
having armed yourself with strength,
7 who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.
8 The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy.
Habakkuk draws upon the words of Psalm 18 (verses 32-33) to praise and worship God:
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.
David and Habakkuk knew joy was not dependent upon physical blessings but knowing God was with them in all circumstances. The God who formed the mountains by His power was their saviour. With God by their side they would never lack anything.
Through David I am reminded to trust in God because he can and does provide for all my needs. With the God who made the mountains nothing is impossible and I will never lack anything. Throughout the Psalms David praises and worships God. In the mountains I find myself naturally praising and worshipping God. Like David I say:
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
3 For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
7 for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.