Psalm 120–A Prayer Amid Hostile People

I just started reading through a section of the Psalms called the “songs of ascent”.  They were written long ago for the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem in celebration of the Passover.  During a long and tiring journey, these songs were for singing out loud, together, for encouragement and raising of hope.  They also helped call to mind memories of God’s faithfulness and love.

I love the book of Psalms.  For anyone who enjoys poetry, but hasn’t read any psalms, give them a look.  There is so much honesty, desperation, love, and every imaginable emotion.  They were written in times of great joy as well as great grief–for isn’t that how life is?

There is a lot of unrest around me–on a global scale, all the way down to my little human heart.  None of these issues is surmountable by powers we possess, either.  For example, if I can’t manage to go one day without thinking a single impatient, judgmental, angry, unforgiving, or prideful thought, how could I possibly expect for all of humanity to be “good”?  Each of us has a deeper need than our own strength and will power can fill.  I must reach beyond myself to be free of those ideas, thoughts, and actions that I don’t want to do, but seem to emerge from my heart anyway.

This psalm is so fitting as I consider the cries of my heart lately:

“I call on the Lord in my distress,

and he answers me.

Save me, O Lord, from lying lips

and from deceitful tongues.”

That’s only the first two verses, too!  Because I believe in the existence of God, as He describes Himself in the Bible, I also believe that there is an Enemy who seeks to draw us away from God, using lies and deceit.  How that enemy gets to each of us, depends on our individual weaknesses.  From the moments in the garden of Eden with Eve, the crafty enemy has been trying to grab souls away from God ever since.

Sadly, sometimes we each fail to recognize lies for what they are!  Our enemy is sneaky and clever, and just as the forbidden fruit “looked good” to Eve, so do many temptations look good to us.  It can start small, and with each little justification, the lie snowballs until it’s way out of our control.

In this psalm, though, the writer was not to blame.  He simply found himself living among “those who hate peace” (verse 6).  He was surrounded by dishonesty and trouble.  That is an exhausting place to be, to feel as if one is the only person committed to truth and peace.  I think our world feels that way sometimes for some of us–which is another reminder to encourage each other to stand firm and act in love!

Where does the psalmist find his hope?  He calls out to the Lord, who answers Him.  I get tremendous comfort from knowing that I too can call out to God who will answer me.  He never grows tired or weary, He cares about our needs, and He loves us more than we can imagine.  He knows our problems are bigger than we are, and He knows our biggest problem of all is the state of our hearts on our own.  That’s why He sent His beloved son to suffer, die, and rise again for each of us.  That opened up the door to the best relationship possible with God, to hope forever.  That is surely good news.

The psalmist trusts in God’s justice.  He does not try to fight back, antagonize, complain against, gossip about, or harm his enemies.  He calls out to God, and he leaves it in God’s hands.  His hope is in the future.  Perhaps his situation will not change for a while, but he is trusting God to handle it.  He knows that he will have peace in his heart in spite of his circumstances, because of the source of his help.

Am I recognizing truth and lies for what they are?

To what or whom do I turn for help?

When I feel alone in my convictions, where do I find encouragement?

Am I acting in a loving, forgiving way to those who may disagree with me?  

Do I trust God to handle my troubles?

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7 comments

  1. Alison, this is a great post! Thank you for sharing. GOD and only GOD can handle all our troubles and needs. It is because of HIS Everlasting Love, Mercy, and Grace that HE so Faithfully, Willingly, and Diligently does it for us. For Bible Study at home I’m studying Psalms 1 & 122. l like Psalms 133. The Book of Psalms is a Great Book. Be Blessed, Mtetar

    1. I’m glad for your words and that you also get encouragement from the psalms!

      1. Yes I do, and The Bible/The Word is the only book that answers all. Kind regards especially to your daughter. Hope she’s doing well. Be Blessed, Mtetar

  2. Very nice, Alison. I enjoy the Psalms as well.

  3. Beautiful and inspiring Alison!

    1. Thank you! The psalm definitely inspired me!

  4. Alison, I so agree that the Psalms are a great place to spend time when our world seems to be in extra turmoil. They are a wonderful source of validation and comfort.

    Blessings ~ Wendy

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