“Summaries, Psalms 121-125”

Categories: Bulletin Articles

Psalm 121 is the second in the series of psalms called “songs of ascent”.  They were usually sung by Jewish pilgrims who were “going up to Jerusalem”.  Even if you’re headed south, going to a mountaintop temple is still going up! 

In any case, the psalmist of Psalm 121 is lifting his eyes to the hills he is climbing.  He knows that he can seek and find help in God.  God will not allow him to fall, and because He doesn’t sleep, His care is constant.  God, like a friendly shadow, will keep the psalmist from the glare of the sun and the moon.  He will protect him from all evil and will always care for him in his travels.

Psalm 122 is another song of ascents, this one in praise of Jerusalem, the destination.  It expresses the psalmist’s delight that he has been invited to travel to Jerusalem.  He rejoices because he has been there before and knows what it’s like.  God has both established Jerusalem and decreed that the Israelites should go there to worship.  Additionally, Jerusalem is the seat of the Davidic kings.

As a result, it is appropriate to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the security of its inhabitants.  Because of them and because the temple is there, the psalmist promises to pray.

Psalm 123 continues the song-of-ascents cycle.  Naturally, this is another psalm about lifting up one’s eyes.  This time, though, the psalmist is lifting up his eyes not to Jerusalem, but to God.  Just like servants watch the hand of their master for indications of his will, so the psalmist will look to God until He has mercy.  Indeed, the psalmist pleads for mercy because he is fed up with being held in contempt by proud people.

Psalm 124 (another song of ascents) asks what life without God’s help would be like.  Without God, the people of Israel acknowledge that their enemies would have overwhelmed them and carried them off like a flood.  As it is, though, God did not give them to their enemies, so they have escaped instead.

Psalm 125 (Song of Ascents #6) is another mountain-centric psalm.  It contemplates the immovability of Mount Zion and concludes that people who trust God are equally secure.  Indeed, God will keep His people safe like the mountains around Jerusalem keep it safe from invasion.  However, His care is not physical, but spiritual.  He will protect His people from those who want to tempt them to do evil.  The psalm concludes with an appeal to God to bless the upright but punish the wicked.