Notes from Psalms of Ascent – Week 2

Last week we finished up Psalm 122 and delved into Psalms 123 and 124. As we go through these Psalms, we are encouraged to think of a word or phrase that sums up each one and fill in these words or phrases on the stair step graphic in the back of our workbook. For me, the themes of these particular Psalms are relief, contempt, and rescue, respectively.

In Psalm 122, we hear the relief of the Israelites as they finally step foot in Jerusalem at the end of their long pilgrimage. The psalmist writes, “Our feet are standing within your gates, Jerusalem!” They clearly feel the strength of this fortified city, built solidly as a place of justice and majesty — the home of the “thrones of the house of David.” We can reflect on our own cities and church congregations in the way that Israel viewed Jerusalem, as places where we hope to prosper and grow while freely worshipping our God. As exiles from their holy city, the Israelites must have been overjoyed to have finally reached their destination.

Psalm 123 depicts the psalmist looking desperately to God for His attention and favor. We read the words of despair at dealing with “scorn from the arrogant and contempt from the proud.” We are reminded of the deep connection between what we see with our eyes and what ultimately affects our hearts, souls, and minds. As Beth Moore states, “Where we look…has a tremendous impact on how we feel.” In our times of struggle, do we look to the Lord first? His word tells us over and over again that He is enthroned in the heavens, with more than enough power and mercy to rescue us from the contempt of our enemies.

Psalm 124 uses powerful metaphors to illustrate the peril that surrounds us in this world. I know that I have often felt like the “torrents” of sin were going to engulf me and I was being “ripped apart” by the teeth of the enemy. This psalm reminds us that the Lord is always on our side and, although we may be allowed to go through a season of struggle, our lives are always under the watchful gaze of our God. Although we may not always understand the plans of the Lord we know that he works all things together for our good.

See you next week!

Study Guide answers (pages 62 and 63 of your study book):

  1. Unleavened Bread; seven; haste, depart
  2. sin; sour; fermentation; evil impulses; corruption
  3. kept over; former baking; hid; with
  4. death; burial; resurrection

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