‘You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.’*
Read Psalm 120
A song of ascents.
1 I call on the Lord in my distress,
and he answers me.
2 Save me, Lord,
from lying lips
and from deceitful tongues.
3 What will he do to you,
and what more besides,
you deceitful tongue?
4 He will punish you with a warrior’s sharp arrows,
with burning coals of the broom bush.
5 Woe to me that I dwell in Meshek,
that I live among the tents of Kedar!
6 Too long have I lived
among those who hate peace.
7 I am for peace;
but when I speak, they are for war.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhen was the last time you brought your longings to God?
This is the first of 15 psalms known as ‘Songs of Ascent’. These psalms may have been used by pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. Or perhaps they were recited on the 15 steps between one courtyard and another in the temple.
Either way, they are associated with traveling closer to God. As the pilgrim made his way to Jerusalem, he would be consciously moving toward the City of Peace and to God’s ‘shalom’ (Psalm 76:2).
This psalm expresses a sense of alienation. Meshek and Kedar (5) were places far from Jerusalem. Whether literally or metaphorically, they describe where the psalmist has been living.
These places were distant from the goal of life and creation, which is ‘rest’ or peace, symbolized by the seventh day of creation on which God rested.
The psalmist is at odds with the society in which he lives (6,7). He is particularly damaged by an environment of deceit (2,3), which destroys trust. His instinct, like a child turning to a parent for comfort, is to cry out to the Lord. This is the first step of coming home to God: an honest and heartfelt expression of need, a longing for ‘home’ (1).
Sometimes our restlessness and longings are diffuse and unfocused. Try to rest in God’s presence and to focus on the ‘one thing’ for which your heart really longs (Psalm 27:4).
Dear God, I ask Your help to continue loving and offering respect
to those who are against me and what I believe (Tim Keller).
*Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions, written 397-400 in Latin, later translated into English.
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