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Ascending the Hill

Psalm 123

(Begin by reading this Psalm first)

The Hand that Feeds You
 

“Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters..”.

– Psalm 123:2a (NKJV)
 

In this Psalm, we see a people looking to God for intercession

and mercy. Although the first verse sounds very similar to Psalm

121:1, here, the Psalmist is looking even beyond the hills. He is

looking to the Creator of the hills!
 

At first glance, the analogies he chooses for verse 2 can cause

us to see God’s hand as a source of provision, which is 100%

correct. Both the servant and the maid were provided for by the

hand of those they served. But also, much like what still occurs in

some situations today, the master’s hand was used to get their

attention and give direction. The servant(s) would stand at the

ready, keeping a close eye on the master’s hand. Using hand

gestures, he would give them direction and where to focus their

work. Shouldn’t we envision the hand of God in the same light

today?
 

Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorn of those who are at ease,

with the contempt of the proud.” – Psalm 123:4

As we Christians journey on, we know that we are surrounded

by scoffers and many who are contemptuous towards the holy

things of God and those of us who follow Him. This is nothing

new, though it may have ramped up in recent years. Let us

continue, as these Psalmists did, on the worship journey of faith;

being resolute in our trusting the hand of our Master and heart of

our Father.
 

Much Love in Christ Jesus,

Pastor Jeff

Ascending the Hill

Psalm 122

Gratitude and “Glad-itude”

“I was glad when they said to me,’Let us go to the house of the Lord’”.

– Psalm 122:1 (ESV)

 

Yes, in case you are wondering, the term glad-itude does not exist. Hopefully, you’ll find yourself agreeing that maybe it should.



If you have been a member of GBC for a while, you may be familiar with verse one above. It is the first line from “I Was Glad” by Geron Davis, which we recorded with him several years ago. Again, as a reminder, the Psalms, like any book of the Bible, can be broken down and studied for tremendously extended amounts of time and we would still only be scratching the surface. So for today, let’s look together at the following verses.

 

This is believed to be one of the four Psalms of Ascents specifically credited to King David. Remember, this collection of Psalms was chosen for the annual journeys to Jerusalem. It can appear strange, then, that King David would compose such a Psalm considering he lived in Jerusalem. Knowing that David was a songwriter, musician and poet (among so many other things), it stands to reason that he could have commissioned himself to compose Psalm 122 on behalf of those entering the city.

 

  • “David wrote it for the people to sing at the time of their goings up to the holy feasts at Jerusalem. It comes third in the series, and appears to be suitable to be sung when the people had entered the gates, and their feet stood within the city.” (Charles Spurgeon)

 

Notice David describes the gladness and rejoicing of worshipers before they arrive in Jerusalem as well. “Let us go” denotes the joy and anticipation of going to corporate worship! As the Psalm continues, so does their celebration as they express gladness for arriving in Jerusalem:

 

  That is where the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, to praise the name of the Lord…” – Psalm 122:4

Our hearts should be glad, even at the mention of being able to come worship together. Our attitudes should be gratitude for the opportunity to worship God together. But, what about those seasons when trials and tensions can make this gladness a struggle to see? It can still be found… in knowing we worship the God who is the answer and the solution to everything we face as His children!

 

 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous,

    but the Lord delivers him out of them all”. – Psalm 34:19

 

Much Love in Christ Jesus, 

 

Pastor Jeff

Here and Now
Psalm 121
 

Psalm 121, the second of the Psalms (songs) of ascents, may bring a certain melody to mind. The moment I began reading, I immediately heard “My Help” by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir running though my head. In fact, if you have access to this song, I recommend you play it as you read Psalm 121 or meditate on its message while playing this beautiful song. I do hope you are taking time to read these Psalms for yourself and allow the Holy Spirit to open up their messages to you!

Here at Grace, when we sing “Is He Worthy?” we usually sing it as a “call and response” in which case I pose a question and you respond with the answers. Some believe this could be the format here in Psalm 121. Verses 1-2 are in first-person, possibly sung by an individual serving as a song leader for a specific group of travelers, and the remaining 6 verses are second-person, or a response. Regardless, the message is one of God’s unfailing protection during the journey, not only when they arrive in Jerusalem (if you have not done so, please read the introduction to this series or, even better, read for yourself the history of “The Songs of Ascents”).

Their journey through the hill country to Jerusalem could be treacherous and uncertain. Some could lose footing and fall (see verse 3), possibly be overtaken at night by thieves (verse 4), or even heat stroke during the day (verse 5). This is comparable to our journey as Christian’s today, isn’t it? I know I have lost footing in my walk. We know, from John 10:10 that there is a thief who comes to “steal and kill and destroy”. Sometimes we can even find ourselves a bit beaten down by the heat of the spiritual battle we are in.

Psalm 121 reminds us that we don’t need to journey to experience God’s protection, but that His presence, power and protection are with us as we journey through this hill country of the world to our glorious destination of heaven!
 
Much Love in Christ Jesus,
 
Pastor Jeff

Ascending the Hill
Psalm 120
Ageless Issue / Privileged People


“Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!”
Psalm 120:5 (ESV)


Hang on a second. Woe to me? I expected these to be happy and upbeat Psalms! Let’s ponder that a second. Is our life’s journey always going to be happy and upbeat? No? Why, then, should the Psalms of Ascent (for the journey) be any different? Do they not reflect the valleys and mountaintops, the fear and the faith and the honest prayers of the authors?
 
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”. – John 16:33.
Here is an eye-opener; Jesus Himself would have sung this song as He traversed to Jerusalem at least three times a year! Knowing His purpose and being aware of certain betrayal, I can only imagine His thoughts as he sang Psalm 120. Let’s take a look.
 
Within these seven short verses, we read the testimony of an individual who appears to be a victim of slander, having referenced “lying lips” and “a deceitful tongue”. He is praying for God’s justice with zeal and desperation. Why is it included in this collection? I believe the answer lies in verse 5.
 
“Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar.” – Psalm 120:5.
Meshech was to the northwest of Israel and the people of Kedar (from the lineage of Ishmael, son of Abraham and Hagar) were to the southeast of Israel, thousands of miles apart. It is impossible for him to have been in both places, so he was more than likely speaking metaphorically. These people were acting as if they were citizens of these Gentile nations and not as children of God.
 
So, what is this ageless issue? It is the inability to participate in corporate worship. We care about members of the GBC family who are currently unable to attend due to health reasons, just as the author found himself unable to go worship with his families and friends. Whether he thought it better to stay and defend himself or if slander had imprisoned him, he was watching the thinning of the city as people headed to Jerusalem just the same and, no doubt, wished he were among them. If you are at home at present, take heart! Read at verse one again!
 
“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.” – Psalm 120:1
God hears you. He hears us as we pray for you! This individual, I do not doubt, found himself among the throng again!

Who, then were the privileged people? They were the ones who were on their way to worship corporately. So, who are the privileged today? Yes, those of us who are able to stand or sit together and worship!
If you find yourself temporarily unable to attend worship at Grace, please remember that you are family and that you are loved. We are praying that you and your loved ones will be able to join again us soon. If you have been attending corporate worship, please remember those who are unable to and take hold of the privilege and honor it is to attend.

Much Love in Christ Jesus,
 
Pastor Jeff

Ascending the Hill

Because Every Day is a Journey

“I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord’.”

Psalm 122:1 (ESV)

 

Beginning the week of February 7, the worship blog will be back, but with a different format for several weeks as we look into Psalms 120-134. The Psalms of Ascent (also known as Songs of Ascent,  Pilgrim Songs or Songs of Degrees), were sung by God’s people as they made their pilgrimage up to Jerusalem three times a year for annual feasts; Passover in spring, Pentecost in early summer and The Feast of Tabernacles in early fall. The Hebrew word for ascents (or degrees) can be translated as “to go up” as in a staircase or a hill. This is fitting as Jerusalem sits upon Mount Zion and, therefore, the trek is literally a climb.

 

Some believe these Psalms were chosen, as a songbook if you will, and were not specifically written specifically for traveling to Jerusalem. I would have loved to be in that planning meeting! I must confess that, although my intentions were good at the onset of studying these Psalms, my perception of them was wrong. They were not chosen to prepare them for worship upon their arrival in Jerusalem, they were selected so they could be worshiping on their way to Jerusalem. So, as we read and dig into these together, let’s not view these as songs of preparation for Sundays, but rather as songs for our souls to sing as we worship during the week on our way to Sunday (or any time we gather). I’m looking forward to these weeks ahead as we journey together, beginning with Psalm 120!

 

Much Love in Christ Jesus!

 

Pastor Jeff

 

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