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.  

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Psalms 74 – Arise O God, Defend Your Cause

Nebuchadnezzar_002It is hard to imagine that this lament psalm could have been written about anything other than the fall of Jerusalem.  In fact, Burton Coffman’s assessment (Coffman, James Burton. “Commentary on Psalms 74”, “Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament”) was that it must have been one of three occasions.  The first possibility is of course the 587 BC destruction of the Temple and the city by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24).   The second seems much less likely – the 351 BC suppression of a Jewish uprising by Persian King Artaxerxes.  Although the third possibility seems a bit more credible – the profaning of the Temple by Antiochus Epiphanes in 167 B.C – the first seems to fit much better (verse 7 notwithstanding).

Though the superscription assigns this psalm to Asaph, in actuality it would be the “sons” (descendants) of Asaph that were responsible; and the likelihood that it is a prophetic psalm seems quite high.  The psalmist appears to obviously see the destruction to come, yet pleads for hope that it may not all come to pass.  He asks God to remember the covenant and Mount Zion; and to “redeem the tribe” of His heritage.

This moving psalm is very appropriate for any community lament, as the psalmist combines fervor for God’s justice and vengeance against those who scoff, with praise for His power, might, and sovereignty:

Yet God my King is from of old,
working salvation in the midst of the earth…
Yours is the day, yours also the night;
you have established the heavenly lights and the sun.
You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth;
you have made summer and winter.

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.