Psalm 121 From a Pilot’s Perspective

Look to the Hills

“I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121: 1–2).

Mt Cyclops. Photo by David Graves

Every day when I drive home from the hangar, I am blessed by the majestic view of Mt. Cyclops, the jungle-covered peak that rises about 6,000 feet above our town of Sentani in Papua, Indonesia. While it is a beautiful sight, it is also frightening to see the landslide scars and the rivers that race down the steep slopes. This mountain is the source of the dangerous floods and landslides that have been experienced by our town over the years. We have been here 21 years and have experienced major flooding twice. When a foot of rain falls on the mountain in one night, it causes death and destruction from the raging waters and the boulders that come crashing down. Thankfully, our home was not damaged by any of the flooding, but our neighborhood water system was destroyed both times. Last year, the Lord provided funds for us to drill a well, so last week when flooding struck again and damaged the neighborhood water system, our home still had water and we were able to share it with our neighbors who did not have any. We are so grateful for the help and safety the Lord gives us.

Add Power

“He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121: 3–4).

The runway at Mokndoma on a rainy day. Photo by Brad McFarlane

The short grass runways here in Papua are often wet and slippery. This can make it difficult to steer and to stop when landing. YAJASI pilots are trained to deal with this in a way that seems counterintuitive: we ADD power. You would think that the first thing you would want to do when sliding off the side of a runway is to stop. But if you add power and point the nose back towards the center of the runway, the propeller pulls you back in the direction you want to go, even if the wheels don’t want to help. Once you are going in the direction you want to go on the runway, then you can worry about stopping the airplane. God is always watching over our lives and will point us in the right direction if we just let Him.

Shield of Protection

“The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night” (Psalm 121: 5–6).

The Pilatus Porter cockpit. Photo by David Graves

In the Pilatus Porter airplane that I fly, the engine controls sit in the center of the cockpit right below the windshield so that my right hand, which operates the controls, is in the bright tropical sun when I fly. As a redhead whose skin sunburns easily, I need to be careful about how much sun I am exposed to. When I fly, I wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and a brimmed hat to protect my skin. Likewise, it is good to be under the Lord’s shield of protection in our daily lives, protecting us from harm.

“The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore” (Psalm 121: 7–8).


David Graves

David Graves

David is a missionary pilot with YAJASI, our partner organization in Papua, Indonesia. He and his wife Noni, along with their two daughters have served there since 2001.