Psalm 125, 129, 130 – The Lord Surrounds His People

Today we look at three of the fifteen “Songs of Ascents” at once (see this previous post for more information on those fifteen psalms). These three are all very short psalms (as most of the “ascent” psalms are), totaling only 21 verses between them. These 15 psalms are called by some the songbook of the Jewish pilgrim, as they were often sung on the way “up” to Jerusalem during a time of feast.

English: Village of below Mount Zion.

English: Village of below Mount Zion. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Psalm 125 uses the geographical metaphor of Jerusalem being surrounded by mountains with the assurance that God surrounds His people. There are seven mountains that surround Jerusalem. The area around Moriah is where the first and second temples were built, and is synonymous with Mount Zion in the Bible. But Mount Zion is referred to as the whole range, as well as a specific portion of it, which was the Jebusite stronghold that David conquered. Then there are Bethsaida, Mount Scopus, the Mount of Olives, Ghareb (sometimes called Calvary), and Mount Opel.

Psalm 129 may not appear so as it begins, but it is a song of hope and assurance. The psalm begins with a short lament over the ways that God’s people have been oppressed and have struggled for so long amid ungodly foes. But as the singer gazes into the distance at Zion, he sees visible evidence of God’s mercy and faithfulness to His promises. Verse 4 gives the hearer the message: “The Lord is righteous; he has cut the cords of the wicked.”

Psalm 130 is a song of pleas for mercy and forgiveness – not corporate forgiveness for Israel itself, but for the individual. The singer recognizes that if the Lord should “mark iniquities,” nobody could stand. But he trusts in the Lord and His saving grace; and he will wait and put his faith and hope in God’s word.

For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

John 18 – Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus

 

Olive Trees in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives

Having finished the Olivet discourse, including His prayer, Jesus and His disciples went across the Kidron brook into a garden.  John does not identify Gethsemane as Matthew and Mark do (Matthew 26:36 and Mark 14:32).  But he does say in verse 2 that Judas knew the place where Jesus would be because He often met there with His disciples.  And we know from several scriptures (Luke 21:37 and Luke 22:39, for example)  that it was His custom to go to the Mount of Olives at night.  Knowing that this was the time, Jesus came forward to the soldiers and officers of the Pharisees that Judas had brought.  Much commentary has been written about verse 6 (“When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground”) – but we just do not know exactly what happened there.  Clearly however, this was a significant response that we would not have expected from Jesus’ captors.  But it really does seem appropriate for the Son of God at this hour in His life.

Verses 15-17 contain the account of Peter’s denial.  Though we are not told, the “other disciple” mentioned in verses 15-16 is probably John himself (the disciple that Jesus loved – as in John 20:2). John is the only one of the four gospels that gives us the account of Jesus going first to Annas. He had been High Priest from 6-15 A.D., but had been deposed by Valerius Gratus, the former Roman prefect of Judea (Josephus Antiquities 18.26, 34, 95).  But the position stayed in the family – currently his son-in-law, Caiaphas.  Since the position had traditionally been one that was life-long, Annas was still considered a High Priest by many Jews.  Jesus was then taken to Caiaphas.  John does not record the events of that encounter, but the synoptic gospels do (Matthew 26:57-68, Mark 14:53-65, and Luke 22:66-71).  It was Caiaphas that had suggested that Jesus should die back in John 11:49-51.

After Judas singled Jesus out for arrest, the mob took Jesus first to Annas, then Caiaphas, the high priest. Jesus then was taken to Pilate

From there, Jesus was taken to the Praetorian – the Roman governor’s residence – to appear before Pilate.  In verse 31, Pilate wants them to “judge him by your own law.”  But the Roman government had supposedly taken away the Sanhedrin’s right to capital punishment (though clearly they exercised exceptions to this, as with Stephen in Acts 7:57-60), and they wanted Him put to death.  Besides, as verse 32 reminds us, it was the Roman method of execution that would fulfill the scripture (Isaiah 52:13, John 12:32-33).  When Pilate speaks with Jesus asking what He had done and whether He was a kink, Jesus lays aside all doubt as to what type of Kingdom He had come to establish in verse 36:

“My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

Pilate still tries to avoid the responsibility for their blood lust, but he lacks the courage to go against the crowd.  So he offers to free either Jesus or the known criminal Barabbas, no doubt thinking they would choose the latter.

But such was not to be.  Jesus took the place of all of us, including Barrabas.

 

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

 

Matthew 24 – Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple

Chapters 24 and 25 are known as the Olivet discourse (Verse 3 – “As he sat on the Mount of Olives…”); and chapter 24 is the source of much discussion and confusion.  The disciples were impressed with the buildings of the temple, and pointed them out to Jesus.  But He tells them in verse 2 that “there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”  Now the total destruction of this temple was such a dramatic thing to envision, that the only thing they could think of to associate it with was the end of the world.  So their question to Jesus was when all of these things would happen.

Old city of Jerusalem, the Temple, and Dome of the Rock, as seen from the Mount of Olives.

The key to understanding this chapter (as is the case with all scripture) is to first examine the context, and then apply what follows using your God-given logic.  In chapter 23, Jesus had just delivered a very vocal rebuke of the scribes and Pharisees in the temple, calling them the “sons of those who murdered the prophets,” and saying “you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?”  He finishes up in verses 37-38 with His broken-hear-ted lament for the coming fate of Jerusalem:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate.”

In verses 4-35 of chapter 24, Jesus tells them privately of the fate that awaits Jerusalem, as well as what will become of them (they will be persecuted and put to death).  he even tells them of things that will happen before that Roman army does its work in AD 70 – many examples of which Josephus and other historians confirm.  If these verses were speaking of the end of the world rather than the destruction of Jerusalem, it would not matter if it was in the winter (verse 20) – much less, what day it was!  In verse 34, He tells them that all of these things will happen during their generation.  It is not until verse 36 that Jesus begins speaking of  the final judgment – “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”  The apocalyptic language throughout the chapter is what makes it difficult to separate.  But such imagery when the scripture prophesies destruction is common (see Isaiah 13:10-13 and Ezekiel 32:7-8, for example).  It is helpful to relate the chapter to Luke’s account in chapter 21, particularly as Matthew 24:15-16 relate to Luke 21:20-21.

For an excellent in-depth analysis, please refer to the article in this link.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.