The next several psalms (Psalms 120-134) are a special group of psalms that were traditionally sung on the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Because Jerusalem is seated at the top of the mountain range that runs north and south through Israel, it was a steady climb upward all the way to worship the LORD in Jerusalem, and therefore, the psalms are called, “Songs of Ascents”. Now, one might suspect that this would be a time for sheer joy at each festival, yet there is a note of lamentation in many of them. Why? Although there is always joy in worship and in gathering God’s people together, there is also the reality of (1) the sin that I bring with me, and (2) the troubles that continue to weigh on me, in spite of my time in a festal situation. Consider your own life as you come to worship: a certain sorrow for known failings and sins and also a weight of trouble that life is full of. These were on the minds of the pilgrims approaching Jerusalem, too.
I am for peace, but they are for war (Psalm 120:7) — We’ve probably all met folks like these. Never quite ready to bury the hatchet, unless it’s in your forehead. The psalmist asks God’s help against them, and He will certainly mete out justice to those who seem to seek constant conflict, but in the meantime, Paul gives us some inspired advice: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Romans 12:18, NAS95. Enemies hold grudges and usually will have no part in forgiveness; revenge, conquest, and winning are their only interests. So kill ’em with kindness, do them good, operate in their best interests, and pray for their repentance. Sometimes hearts are eventually melted and softened by Christian living.
From where shall my help come? (Psalm 121:1,2) — People look for their help in many places. In the ancient, pagan world there was the world of gods who were thought entities who could called upon to help. But the usual outcome (except for Satan’s allowances or coincidence) were like that for the prophets of Baal in the famous story of the challenge of Elijah on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18) — a big fat nothing. People today look to money, prestige, power, looks, technology, and other stuff for help. But the best source of help hasn’t changed over the millennia, the LORD — who made heaven and earth, who will not sleep or slumber, who is our Keeper, our Shade on our right hand (the south), our Protection from all evil, Keeper of our souls, and our great Guard.
A reason to be glad (Psalm 122:1) — Is this how you think: “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.” (Psalms 122:1, NAS95)? Sometimes we view it as less a reason to be glad and more as a duty. There’s so much to be thankful for in worship; so much to praise God for, so much fellowship of good people to enjoy, so much great singing to be done, so much remembering the important and deep things to do — so much! So don’t grump at the Sunday morning alarm clock! Greet it with a smile, it’s the Lord’s Day!
May they prosper who love you (Psalm 122:6) — This is closer to the end of the psalm about gladness of coming to worship and it urges a special affection for God’s people — in the psalmists day, Israel and Jerusalem; but in our own day the church. There’s way too much complaint and griping done about the church these days, in my opinion — and here, let me specify, I’m talking about the Lord’s church. Are there problems? Well, sure, and there always will be as long as we remain human. Someone has well said that if you ever find the perfect church, do them a favor and don’t join them, you’ll probably mess things up. The only perfect one is in God’s mind. But like the Israelites of old in the wilderness, some seem to find nothing right about anything. But the church is like any family, there’s always a few squabbles, but we’re family. Let’s kiss and make up and listen to the Father on how to make things right. And may all who love the Lord’s church prosper!!
Our eyes look to the Lord (Psalm 123:2) — This wonderful psalm expresses the proper humility that we ought to have toward the Father in Heaven. Like a servant who is completely dependent upon the Master to fill our needs, so we look to the LORD. So be gracious to us all, Gracious LORD.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.