The book of Psalms is often referred to as the ancient Israelite’s hymn book. The songs of Psalms cover an array of emotions and experiences ranging from mourning to praise, from suffering to worship, from sadness to joy, and from doubt to assurance. As the pilgrims trekked up to Jerusalem, they reflected on the immeasurable wisdom, knowledge, majesty, and mercy of God, and burst out in songs of praise.
Preceded by Psalm 119, an epic ode exalting God’s Word, the section of Psalms known as “The Great Hallel,” begins with the “songs of ascent” sung by pilgrims journeying up to Jerusalem to take part in their annual feasts. The “songs of ascent,” comprised of Psalms 120-134, form the heart of “The Great Hallel.” Ten of these psalms are written by unknown authors. One-Psalm 127-is credited to Solomon. Four of the 15 psalms (Psalms 122, 124, 131, and 133) forming the “songs of ascent” are believed to have been penned by David. These songs became featured anthems passed from generation to generation and likely would have been sung by Joseph and Mary as they traveled from Nazareth to Jerusalem. Likewise, Jesus and His disciples would have sung them as they made the trip from Galilee to Jerusalem. During our trip to Israel in 2012, Sweet T and I recited these psalms along with our church group as we climbed up the steps outside the Temple Mount.
Psalm 120 is written by an unknown author and is a cry for truth and peace. The composer asks God for protection from those who wanted to stir up strife and war. The writer prays to God for help in dealing with liars and deceivers disrupting the lives of God’s people who were trying to conduct themselves with integrity and honor. It is considered to be an individual lament anticipating thanksgiving for God’s deliverance from trouble and persecution.
A song of ascents.
1 In my distress I called to the Lord,
and He answered me.
2 “Lord, deliver me from lying lips
and a deceitful tongue.”
3 What will He give you, and what will He do to you,
you deceitful tongue?
4 A warrior’s sharp arrows
with burning charcoal!
5 What misery that I have stayed in Meshech, that I have lived among the tents of Kedar!
6 I have lived too long
with those who hate peace.
7 I am for peace; but when I speak,
they are for war.
It is a psalm that is applicable to us as believers today as we struggle to live a life glorifying God in a world rife with deceit, disrespect, and disregard for the things of God. Scripture reminds us to conduct ourselves honorably, guarding our witness, so that our actions would testify to the greatness and goodness of God. This can be challenging in our turbulent times, but we can trust on the same God who delivered His people time and time again and who, out of His love for us, offered His Son as the ultimate sacrifice, atoning for our sins, and bridging the gap to draw us into a right relationship with Him.
My heart cries out to God as I am reminded of the inexplicable horror a young mother experienced at a train station in Frankfurt, Germany. As my mind tries to make sense of yet another senseless mass shooting, this time in El Paso, I mourn for those who have lost loved ones they need not have lost.
What actions are you taking to guard your witness and conduct yourself honorably while living in an ungodly world? How are you pointing people to Christ? He is the answer.
As always, thanks for reading.
The Devotional Guy™
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Blackaby, Henry and King, Claude A. (1994). Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God. Broadman and Holman Publishers. Nashville, Tennessee.
Getz, Gene A. (2011). Life Essentials Bible: Principles to Live By. Holman Bible Publishers. Nashvillle, Tennessee.
Lockyer, Herbert (1966). All the Books and Chapters of the Bible. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Randel, Don Michael (2003) The Harvard Dictionary of Music. Harvard University Press. Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Tomlin, Chris and Whitehead, David. (2017). Holy Roar: 7 Words That Will Change the Way You Worship. Thomas Nelson Publishing. Nashville, Tennessee.
White, James F. (1993) A Brief History of Christian Worship. Abingdon Press. Nashville.