From Psalms 120-132
The Psalmist is surrounded by his lying foes. He calls out to the LORD for help knowing the LORD will judge them. He compares himself to them. The people of God are for peace. The wicked are for war. Which will Jesus bring?
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
The Psalmist begins with a cry of distress. Its a prayer.
120 In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me.
2 Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue. (Ps 120.1-2)
When you are in trouble, do you call out to the LORD?
The Psalmist looks back to when he called out to the LORD. He knows the LORD has answered his prayer. He cried out for deliverance and he was saved.
The Psalmist is opposed by the lying and deceitful tongues of the wicked.
3 What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you, you deceitful tongue?
4 A warrior’s sharp arrows, with glowing coals of the broom tree! (Ps 120.3-4)
The Psalmist anticipates the coming judgment on those who lie and deceive. The LORD will raise up people who will execute his justice. Shooting them with arrows and burning them.
5 Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
6 Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace.
7 I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war! (Ps 120.5-7)
The Psalmist changes his tone and laments his current predicament.
The Psalmist is a sojourner. He is in a land and among a people who do not follow the LORD.
He lives among the wicked who keenly desire war and violence. He in contrast longs for peace. The only peace the LORD will bring when he delivers his people and judges the wicked.
‘Psalms 120–134 form a collection in the sense that all these psalms (with a small variation in the case of Ps 121:1) have “A Song of Ascents” (Heb. shir hammaʿalot) as the title. One of the unanswered questions regarding the “Song of Ascents” is whether there is a relationship between these psalms, and, if so, what the nature of that relationship might be. Another related question concerns the meaning of the title hammaʿalot.
On the one hand, some exegetes are of the opinion that the collection originally formed a unit and may even have been written by a single author. On the other hand, there are people who feel that the collection owes its origin to an editorial process and did not originally form a single unit.
There is no certainty as to the meaning of the title “Song of Ascents”: a cultic meaning would be one possibility. One of the most popular explanations of the significance of the title is that these psalms were sung by the Levites on the fifteen steps (whence the fifteen psalms) of the temple during religious festivals. The most usual cultic explanation is that the title refers to three of the principal festivals, namely, the feast of Tabernacles, the Passover, and the feast of Weeks. These psalms would then have been sung by pilgrims on their way to the temple in Jerusalem, whence the name “Songs of Ascents” or “Pilgrim Songs.”’ (Prinsloo, W.S., 2003. The Psalms. In J. D. G. Dunn & J. W. Rogerson, eds. Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, p. 423.)
The Psalmist speaks about peace and war. God’s people have always longed for the peace that only God can bring. We depend on him to bring peace. Sadly Jesus has not yet come back to put things to rights so we still experience hostility and war. We can see this when the gospel of the kingdom is proclaimed.
10 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.
2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
3 Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road.
5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. 7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house.
8 Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. (Lk 10.1-12)
With the Psalmist we acknowledge there are many who are hostile to God and his people. As we share the gospel we rightfully long for welcome and peace. But we still experience hostility.
Nevertheless know this, the kingdom of God has come near.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2016. All Rights Reserved.