1062.) Psalms 120 and 121

They are for war -- I am for peace!

They are for war — I am for peace! — painting by Benn.

Psalm 120   (ESV)

Deliver Me, O Lord

A Song of Ascents.

Song of Ascents is a title given to fifteen of the Psalms, 120–134, that each starts with the ascription Shir Hama’aloth (Hebrew:  שיר המעלות‎, meaning “Song of Ascent”).

Many scholars believe these psalms were sung by the worshipers as they ascended up the road to Jerusalem to attend the three pilgrim festivals  (Deuteronomy 16:16 lists the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Booths), or by the priests as they ascended the fifteen steps to minister at the Temple in Jerusalem.

They were well suited for being sung, by their poetic form and the sentiments they express. “They are characterized by brevity, by a key-word, by repetition …. More than half of them are cheerful, and all of them hopeful.”


In my distress I called to the Lord,
    and he answered me.
Deliver me, O Lord,
    from lying lips,
    from a deceitful tongue.

What shall be given to you,
    and what more shall be done to you,
    you deceitful tongue?
A warrior’s sharp arrows,
    with glowing coals of the broom tree!

Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech,
    that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
Too long have I had my dwelling
    among those who hate peace.
I am for peace,
    but when I speak, they are for war!

P121 hills

Psalm 121   (ESV)

My Help Comes from the Lord

It is traditional for some Jews to place a copy of Psalm 121 in the labor and delivery room to promote an easy labor by asking God for mercy. As well, it is placed on the baby’s carriage and in the baby’s room to protect the child and surround the child in learning about all that is holy.

A Song of Ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

P121 help

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw


The greatest value of Psalm 121 lies not in a praise of nature but in its presentation of the contrast between nature and grace.  The psalmist does not decry nature; he just knows its limitations and proclaims that there is no salvation in the natural world.  Salvation comes only from above and beyond the creation.  The hills represent nature at its best but the best the earth has to offer is not big enough or good enough to rescue us from ourselves.

The answer to our need is neither within us nor within our world.  It rests in the transcendent One from beyond the confines of the universe.  When he comes, he brings supernatural resources to meet our natural needs.  In this psalm the writer paints the background for the manger in Bethlehem where the eternal One broke into time and space, became a human person, and brought redemption to the world.

For those who can see, the need for this truth is apparent in every area of life.  Modern people have tried every earthly source to solve their problems:  government, education, economics, social sciences, psychology, and psychoanalysis.  We have expected somewhere within us or within our world to find the key, the solution that we seek.  Thousands of years ago there was a man, wiser than we, who saw the sterility of our vain efforts.  He decided that help for humans comes only from Yahweh, who created and rules over all the factors and all the processes in which we place our hopes.  Our only true hope and our only sure help is in the God who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.



HERE  is Brian Doerksen and “I Lift My Eyes Up.”  Oh, how I need you, Lord!


Images courtesy of:
Benn (Benejou Rabinowicz, 1905–89).    http://payload.cargocollective.com/1/2/88505/1542531/07-Benn-%28Benejou-Rabinowicz–1905-89%29–Psalm-120-7_900.jpg
I lift up my eyes.    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_yGng4B9qxBc/TURofCTv8YI/AAAAAAAABOM/RATD_5XJBrk/s1600/Psalm+121++1-2.jpg
My help comes from the Lord.    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_bqFquCx5Yh4/S7EvEXcpDwI/AAAAAAAAAbc/kv2ncRQZkcc/s1600/Prayer6.gif

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