Weds 15th July - Psalm 120
1 I call on the Lord in my distress,
and he answers me.
2 Save me, Lord,
from lying lips
and from deceitful tongues.
3 What will he do to you,
and what more besides,
you deceitful tongue?
4 He will punish you with a warrior’s sharp arrows,
with burning coals of the broom bush.
5 Woe to me that I dwell in Meshek,
that I live among the tents of Kedar!
6 Too long have I lived
among those who hate peace.
7 I am for peace;
but when I speak, they are for war.
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Meditation on Psalm 120
This is the first in another series of the Psalms. Psalm 120-134 each have the title, ‘The Song of Ascents’,
In some Jewish traditions these Psalms have been referred to as the ‘Great Hallel’ Psalms – Hallel being the Hebrew word for praise.
‘Ascents’ refers to ‘going up’ to Jerusalem for one of the great festivals.
Modern Israelis believe this to be the first of many ‘going up’ to Jerusalem for example…
- between 1882 and 1939 there were waves of immigrants returning to Jerusalem
- ever since the founding of the nation of Israel in 1948 there has been a continuous stream of people who are ‘going up’ to Jerusalem.
This first Psalm of the series seems to be anything but ‘Hallel’. It is the cry of someone who is in desperate need and one who is longing to be at home in Jerusalem.
Verses 1-2 A heart cry
This is not a prayer of confession. It is a prayer arising out of a deepest need.
The Psalmist is in distress.
Where does he turn?
- he turns to the LORD
- he has confidence that the LORD will answer
He is surrounded by those who actively oppose him, who are hostile to him. Their weapon is their tongue.
This links in with our sermon series in James who speaks about the power of the tongue. (James 3)
Come back to Psalm 5:9 – where David cries out, ‘not a word from their mouth can be trusted, their heart is filled with malice; their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they tell lies.’
Verses 3-4 A hope of relief
His adversaries think they might have won but the Psalmist, having turned to the LORD, is confident that He, being greater, will be victorious over evil.
Verses 5-7 If only …
Here is the Psalmist, living in a strange land, a hostile land – not literally, because the two places he mentions are many miles apart. Meshek was in Central Asia Minor. Meshek was the son of Japheth who was one of Noah’s sons. This was a barbaric people living between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.
Kedar was the second son of Ishmael. As a place Kedar was associated with the nomadic tribes in the lands surrounding Israel.
The situation makes the Psalmist feel as if he is surrounded by godless people who have no thought of peace.
“I am tired of living among people who hate peace.”
If only he could be back in Jerusalem.
He longs for peace whilst living with people who long for war.
Are we not surrounded by such people – godless people – and we feel as if we are living in a foreign land. We long for the Prince of Peace, Jesus, to come and take His rightful place as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Isn’t this what Peter referred to when he said, ‘Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.’
(1 Peter 2:11-12)
Whatever we may face, we know that we can always ‘call on the LORD’
Whatever we do, let’s ask the Lord to help us to be a witness to Him who is ‘the Way, the truth and the Life.’
Thursday 16 July - Psalm 121
Friday 17 July - Psalm 122
Saturday 18 July - Psalm 123
Sunday 19 July - Psalm 124
Monday 20 July - Psalm 125
Tuesday 21 July - Psalm 126