Psalm 120

• Psalms 120 through 134 are known as the Songs of Ascents.
• The Songs of Ascents are also a part of the Great Hallel psalms (120-136).
• Some scholars believe the 15 psalms correspond with the 15 steps of the temple.
• Songs likely sung in the processions of the three annual festivals as pilgrims ascended to Jerusalem.

A song of ascents.

120:1 I call [“See the wondrous advantage of trouble — that it makes us call upon God; and again see the readiness of mercy, that when we call He heareth us!” (JW Burgon)] on the Lord [an expression of dependence on God alone in times of distress; “To whom should children cry but to their Father?” (Spurgeon)] in my distress [the distress is specified in the following verses], and he answers me [see Ps. 130:5].

120:2 Save me [a prayer for deliverance], Lord, from lying lips [false accusations; “It is better to be the victim of slander than the author of it.” (Martin Luther)] and from deceitful tongues [treachery; “The unbridled tongue is vehiculum diaboli, the chariot of the devil, wherein he rides in triumph.” (Edward Reyner)].

120:3 What will he do to you, and what more besides [this was a kind of an oath formula; cf. 1 Sam. 3:17; 2 Sam. 3:35], you deceitful tongue?

120:4 [the psalmist prayed that those who had shot arrows of falsehood at him should be punished in like manner, by the arrows of the Almighty] He will punish you with a warrior’s sharp arrows, with burning coals of the broom bush [or broom tree; produces a hot and long-burning fire and the finest charcoal; grows in the desert up to a height of twelve feet].

120:5 Woe to me [an expression of personal misery] that I dwell in [the following are metaphorical ethnic references to the psalmist’s enemies who are likened to hostile barbarians] Meshek [located in Asia Minor by the Black Sea], that I live among the tents of Kedar [reference to Arab tribesmen who dwell in the Arabian Desert]!

120:6 Too long have I lived among those who hate peace [among people who live and act like hostile barbarians who have no regard to God and His laws].

120:7 I am for peace [this was the longing of his heart]; but when I speak, they are for war.

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