Summary notes from the Introductory Session to Psalms of Ascent
I’m a little behind this week getting the summary notes posted. This is such an exciting study that it is hard to know where to start!
In the Introductory Session, we focused on what the Psalms of Ascent are, where they are located, and why they are important. The Psalms of Ascent consist of Psalms 120 through 134, and these 15 psalms are traditionally associated with the pilgramage of Israel to Jerusalem for the three yearly feasts. Recall that the people of Israel were scattered throughout the near East (often referred to as the “Diaspora”) and were required by the Law (Torah) to return to Jerusalem three times a year for the “Three Great Feasts” as described in Deuteronomy 16:16. “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, ad at the Feast of Booths.” (ESV)
The 15 psalms are commonly associated with the 15 steps of the temple leading from the Court of Women (the furthest place that women were allowed to advance within the temple) to the Nicanor Gate that led to the Court of the Israelites. We can rejoice that, although the women were prevented from further approaching the Holy of Holies in the Jewish temple, we have full freedom in salvation through Jesus Christ to boldly approach the throne of our God!
We are encouraged in this study to do two things:
- One, to develop a practice during our daily study to get down on our faces before God in prayer. This is not something that many modern Christians are accustomed to doing, but we will be richly blessed in the process. We can imagine ourselves as our ancient Jewish brothers and sisters making their way to Jerusalem, falling on their faces before God for his mercy and also in their longing to see the City of Peace.
- Second, to memorize Psalm 121. This will be the memory verses for this Bible study, but you are welcome to memorize more of the Psalms of Ascent if you want to!
Psalm 121 is amazing and so beautifully designed by the Holy Spirit (as so much of God’s word is). There are 58 syllables leading up to the middle phrase “The LORD protects you” and there are 58 syllables leading to the end of the psalm (imagine stairsteps!). God is referred to as LORD (or Yahweh) five times throughout the psalm, reminding us that He is our covenant keeper. The Hebrew word “shamar” (translated at “protect” or “keep”) occurs six times throughout the psalm, reminding us that this Maker of heaven and earth is our constant Protector and watches over every step of our journey.
See you next week!
Viewer Guide answers (pages 8-9 of your study book):
15, 120, 134
to go up
Great Feasts, Pilgrimage; song, steps, places, faces; exiles, captivity