Psalm 120 is the first of 15 psalms (Psalm 120-134) categorized as Song of Ascents. They are named this because of the phrase appearing before each of the psalms – the Hebrew term ma’a lot which means “going up.” Another reason they are called Psalms of Ascent is because these are psalms that were sung by Jews traveling to Jerusalem for the three annual feasts – the Feast Passover, the feast of Pentecost and the feast of Tabernacles. However, they are also called Psalms of Ascent because they have an upward motion…the believer crying out to God in trouble far away from Jerusalem, but ending by offering up praise to God in His temple courts.
The psalmist talks of distress and destiny…distress and deliverance from deceitful tongues in verses 1 and 2, and the destiny of those deceitful tongues in verses 3 and 4. He cries out with weariness of living with those who hate God’s shalom (peace) in verses 5 and 6, and states the contrast between himself and the community where he lives in verse 7.
Interpretation and Application:
The psalm begins with prayer. We are to call on the Lord in times of trouble. He hears us and answers us! (verse 1) He protects us from those who would try to lead us astray and turn us from the truth. (verse 2) Those who do so will be judged. (verses 3-4). As Christians we do not belong to the world. Just as Meshek and Kedar were places far away from the land of Israel (verse 5) and the psalmist felt he had lived too long among these people who did not care for God and His ways, so we as Christians often feel a little uncomfortable living in this world. We don’t often fit or feel at home as the hymn puts it: “This world is not my home. I’m just a passin’ through.” Sometimes we just get tired of living in the world and long for peace (verses 6 and 7). Only in Christ can we have peace. Jesus said it Himself: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace,” (John 16:33). We must also remember that we were never promised an easy life once we take Christ as Saviour, but don’t let that discourage you. Jesus said: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Let’s remember the beginning of this psalm where it encourages us to call on the Lord in times of trouble.
Thank you Lord, that you are with us in times of trouble. Even though You have not promised us an easy life, You have given us Christ to hold us fast and see us through. Amen.
This World is Not My Home
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.