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.  

Psalm 128, 131 – Blessed Is Everyone Who Fears the Lord

IMG_7320

IMG_7320 (Photo credit: six steps )

Psalms 128 and 131 are two more of those known as “Songs of Ascents” (see this previous post for more information).

Psalm 128 begins the hymn by proclaiming some of the ways that the individual who fears the Lord (is obedient and serves with awe and reverence) is blessed. It finishes by calling for corporate service and fear of the Lord, and beseeches the blessings of God for all.

Psalm 131 is a song of hope and trust in God. This very short psalm is an humble proclamation to The Lord that acknowledges that there are great and marvelous things that only God Himself controls. Instead of worrying about those things, the psalmist says, he has quieted his soul with that very knowledge – that God is in control. He calls for the corporate hope and trust in the Lord with that same calmness – like that of a weaned child (verse 2).

Both psalms offer the assurance that comes with trusting in God and keeping His commandments. We seek always to do the right thing, to labor admirably in His vineyard. We then can rest assured that, come what may, God is in control, and His will is going to be done.

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.  

Psalm 117, 124 – If Not For the Lord

storm_002Both of these psalms are short hymns of great praise. Psalm 117 is the next to the last in what as known as the “Hallel” (Psalms 113-118) praising God and calling for all nations to do so (“For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!”). The word “us” applies to people of all nations, and Paul quotes this passage when speaking to Jews and Gentiles in Romans 15:10-11.

Psalm 124 is one of the fifteen “Psalms of Acsents” (see this previous post for a brief explanation). This particular psalm is one of praise to God for deliverance. Here, the analogies are made to escaping from death by drowning (verses 4-5), and then as a bird escaping from a predator or a trap (verses 6-7). It is a reminder to those of the singing congregation of the grace, mercy, and power of the Lord:

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side—
let Israel now say—
if it had not been the Lord who was on our side
when people rose up against us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive,

God does not always answer our prayers the way we would like for Him to. Sometimes, the answer is no. Sometimes, it may even be “not yet” or “I have something else in mind.” Sometimes, that “something else” becomes clear to us later as the better thing to have happened. But sometimes, we come to Him in great distress, and He answers “yes.” When the dust settles after such a situation, do we give Him the praise and the glory? Or do we just move on as if the “luck of the draw” was simply on our side?

Verse 8 is a reminder that it is from God whom all blessings flow:

Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth

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.  

Psalms 80, 120 – In My Distress I Called

Thought to have been written during the time of captivity, the community lament of Psalm 80 makes pleas to the “Shepherd of Israel” to come and save them.  Verse 2’s mention of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh serves to include the whole of Israel.  Ephraim and Manasseh represent the northern kingdom, while the tribe of Benjamin remained with Judah after the division.  The phrase “let your face shine” in verses 3 and 7 remind of Aaron’s blessing in Numbers 6:24-25.   The psalm speaks of Israel as a vine, a metaphor that the Scriptures use often (Isaiah 5:1-3, Jeremiah 2:21, Jeremiah 12:10, Ezekiel 17:6).  Then in John 15:1-5, Jesus speaks of Himself as the true vine.

Ruins of the southern wall of the ancient Temple of Jerusalem which date from Herod's time.

Ruins of the southern wall of the ancient Temple of Jerusalem which date from Herod’s time.

Psalm 120 is the first of 15 psalms with the superscription “a song of ascents” (Psalms 120-134).  They are a widely varied collection of psalms, ranging from laments to thanksgiving psalms to royal psalms.  We are unsure what is the significance of the word, although many say that these were songs that were sung on “the steps,” which is one meaning for the word.

The best guess we have read is that they were songs that were sung during pilgrimage to the various feasts of the year, which would indicate the “ascent” to Jerusalem for worship.  Still, the most interesting view is the belief of some Jews that there are 15 of them because there were 15 steps from the “Court of the Women” to the “Court of the Men” in the Temple.

This one is an individual lament from someone who has been living among ungodly people who are hostile to him.  In verse 5, Meschech and Kedar are thought by most to represent places of barbarians.  Meshech was in Asia Minor near the Black Sea, and Kedar was in the Syrian desert to the south of Damascus.

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.