Psalms

Psalms of Ascents: Songs, Focused on God, of Trouble, Trust and Triumph

Way back in Deuteronomy, Moses, speaking for God, explained that the Israelites had to celebrate 7 festivals each year. They were Passover, Harvest, Weeks (Pentecost), in the Spring (which Jesus fulfilled). Then Rosh Ha-Shanah (Feast of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), and Tabernacles (Shelters) or Sukkot, in the fall. These Jesus will fulfill when he comes the second time. Check out the “God’s Calendar” video below that explains all this.

Three of these festivals were a must: Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.

Map of Ancient Israel. Image by Chris and Jenifer Taylor of The Bible Journey from FreeBibleImages.org (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
Map of Ancient Israel. Image by Chris and Jenifer Taylor of The Bible Journey from FreeBibleImages.org (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). The “Sea of Chinnereth”, in the north, is the Sea of Galilee. Jerusalem is east of the Dead Sea. Imagine waking form Dan to Jerusalem 7 times a year, every year!

In ancient times, people walked. Jerusalem was built on 5 mountains. It was an uphill climb from anywhere. Check out the video below of a modern-day hike from Jericho to Jerusalem.

So, as the people walked, they sang these psalms.

These 15 psalms, from 120-134, are organized in 5 groups of 3. Each triad takes us from trouble, trust and to triumph. They speak of trouble and call to God, they confirm their trust in the Lord and then they triumph in the Lord’s victory over their problems.

That’s how our lives should be. These are short, so we’ll go through each one. Let’s dig in….

Psalm 120

I took my troubles to the Lord;
    I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer.
Rescue me, O Lord, from liars
    and from all deceitful people.
O deceptive tongue, what will God do to you?
    How will he increase your punishment?
You will be pierced with sharp arrows
    and burned with glowing coals.

How I suffer in far-off Meshech.
    It pains me to live in distant Kedar.
I am tired of living
    among people who hate peace.
I search for peace;
    but when I speak of peace, they want war!

Psalm 120 NLT

Verse 5 is prophetic. Meshech is Russia and Kedar is the Arabs, Israel’s biggest enemies. The Russian Jews and Jews from other Arab nations have returned or are returning to Israel. Verses 6 and 7 describe how it is today. Israel wants peace and all they want is war. To keep up with the Middle East, follow Amir Tsarfati on Telegram.

Note: the Hebrew name for Jerusalem is Zion and it’s used interchangeably.

Psalm 121

One of my personal favorites!

I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever.

Psalm 121 NLT

Psalm 122 – A Psalm of David

I was glad when they said to me,
    “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
And now here we are,
    standing inside your gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is a well-built city;
    its seamless walls cannot be breached.
All the tribes of Israel—the Lord’s people—
    make their pilgrimage here.
They come to give thanks to the name of the Lord,
    as the law requires of Israel.
Here stand the thrones where judgment is given,
    the thrones of the dynasty of David.

Pray for peace in Jerusalem.
    May all who love this city prosper.
O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls
    and prosperity in your palaces.
For the sake of my family and friends, I will say,
    “May you have peace.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem.

Psalm 122 NLT

We need to pray this regularly — pray for the peace of Jerusalem and Israel. God told us back in Genesis…

“I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt.”

Genesis 12:3a NLT

Play it safe. Pray for Israel!

Psalm 123

I lift my eyes to you,
    O God, enthroned in heaven.
We keep looking to the Lord our God for his mercy,
    just as servants keep their eyes on their master,
    as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal.
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy,
    for we have had our fill of contempt.
We have had more than our fill of the scoffing of the proud
    and the contempt of the arrogant.

Psalm 123 NLT

Psalm 124

A Psalm of David

What if the Lord had not been on our side?
    Let all Israel repeat:
What if the Lord had not been on our side
    when people attacked us?
They would have swallowed us alive
    in their burning anger.
The waters would have engulfed us;
    a torrent would have overwhelmed us.
Yes, the raging waters of their fury
    would have overwhelmed our very lives.

Praise the Lord,
    who did not let their teeth tear us apart!
We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap.
    The trap is broken, and we are free!
Our help is from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 124 NLT

Psalm 125

Those who trust in the Lord are as secure as Mount Zion;
    they will not be defeated but will endure forever.
Just as the mountains surround Jerusalem,
    so the Lord surrounds his people, both now and forever.
The wicked will not rule the land of the godly,
    for then the godly might be tempted to do wrong.
O Lord, do good to those who are good,
    whose hearts are in tune with you.
But banish those who turn to crooked ways, O Lord.
    Take them away with those who do evil.

May Israel have peace!

Psalm 125 NLT

Psalm 126

When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem (Zion),
    it was like a dream!
We were filled with laughter,
    and we sang for joy.
And the other nations said,
    “What amazing things the Lord has done for them.”
Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us!
    What joy!

Restore our fortunes, Lord,
    as streams renew the desert.
Those who plant in tears
    will harvest with shouts of joy.
They weep as they go to plant their seed,
    but they sing as they return with the harvest.

Psalm 126 NLT

Psalm 127

A Psalm of Solomon

Unless the Lord builds a house,
    the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city,
    guarding it with sentries will do no good.
It is useless for you to work so hard
    from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
    for God gives rest to his loved ones.

Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.
Children born to a young man
    are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!
    He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.

Psalm 127 NLT

Psalm 128

How joyful are those who fear the Lord—
    all who follow his ways!
You will enjoy the fruit of your labor.
    How joyful and prosperous you will be!
Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine,
    flourishing within your home.
Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees
    as they sit around your table.
That is the Lord’s blessing
    for those who fear him.

May the Lord continually bless you from Zion.
    May you see Jerusalem prosper as long as you live.
May you live to enjoy your grandchildren.
    May Israel have peace!

Psalm 129

From my earliest youth my enemies have persecuted me.
    Let all Israel repeat this:
From my earliest youth my enemies have persecuted me,
    but they have never defeated me.
My back is covered with cuts,
    as if a farmer had plowed long furrows.
But the Lord is good;
    he has cut me free from the ropes of the ungodly.

May all who hate Jerusalem
    be turned back in shameful defeat.
May they be as useless as grass on a rooftop,
    turning yellow when only half grown,
ignored by the harvester,
    despised by the binder.
And may those who pass by
    refuse to give them this blessing:
“The Lord bless you;
    we bless you in the Lord’s name.”

Psalm 129 NLT

Psalm 130

From the depths of despair, O Lord,
    I call for your help.
Hear my cry, O Lord.
    Pay attention to my prayer.

Lord, if you kept a record of our sins,
    who, O Lord, could ever survive?
But you offer forgiveness,
    that we might learn to fear you.

I am counting on the Lord;
    yes, I am counting on him.
    I have put my hope in his word.
I long for the Lord
    more than sentries long for the dawn,
    yes, more than sentries long for the dawn.

O Israel, hope in the Lord;
    for with the Lord there is unfailing love.
    His redemption overflows.
He himself will redeem Israel
    from every kind of sin.

Psalm 130 NLT

Guess who the last two verses are describing… Jesus — our Redeemer!

Psalm 131

A psalm of humility. A psalm of David.

Lord, my heart is not proud;
    my eyes are not haughty.
I don’t concern myself with matters too great
    or too awesome for me to grasp.
Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself,
    like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk.
    Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord—
    now and always.

Psalm 131 NLT

Can you honestly speak that psalm?

Psalm 132

Lord, remember David
    and all that he suffered.
He made a solemn promise to the Lord.
    He vowed to the Mighty One of Israel (Jacob),
“I will not go home;
    I will not let myself rest.
I will not let my eyes sleep
    nor close my eyelids in slumber
until I find a place to build a house for the Lord,
    a sanctuary for the Mighty One of Israel.”

We heard that the Ark was in Ephrathah;
    then we found it in the distant countryside of Jaar.
Let us go to the sanctuary of the Lord;
    let us worship at the footstool of his throne.
Arise, O Lord, and enter your resting place,
    along with the Ark, the symbol of your power.
May your priests be clothed in godliness;
    may your loyal servants sing for joy.
10 For the sake of your servant David,
    do not reject the king you have anointed (Messiah – Jesus!).
11 The Lord swore an oath to David
    with a promise he will never take back:
“I will place one of your descendants
    on your throne.
12 If your descendants obey the terms of my covenant
    and the laws that I teach them,
then your royal line
    will continue forever and ever.”

13 For the Lord has chosen Jerusalem;
    he has desired it for his home.
14 “This is my resting place forever,” he said.
    “I will live here, for this is the home I desired.
15 I will bless this city and make it prosperous;
    I will satisfy its poor with food.
16 I will clothe its priests with godliness;
    its faithful servants will sing for joy.
17 Here I will increase the power of David;
    my anointed one will be a light for my people.
18 I will clothe his enemies with shame,
    but he will be a glorious king.”

Psalm 132 NLT

This one goes with yesterday’s chapter when Solomon brings the Ark to its permanent resting place.

Psalm 133

A psalm of David.

1How wonderful and pleasant it is
    when brothers live together in harmony!
For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil
    that was poured over Aaron’s head,
    that ran down his beard
    and onto the border of his robe.
Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon
    that falls on the mountains of Zion.
And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing,
    even life everlasting.

Psalm 133 NLT

Psalm 134

The psalmist gets to Jerusalem at night and is excited.

1Oh, praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
    you who serve at night in the house of the Lord.
Lift your hands toward the sanctuary,
    and praise the Lord.

May the Lord, who made heaven and earth,
    bless you from Jerusalem.

Psalm 134 NLT

This World is Not Our Home!

Thank God! I thank Jesus for His sacrifice. This world is not my home! All born again Christians are citizens of Heaven. Just like the ancient Hebrew pilgrims who looked up towards Jerusalem with yearning and joy, we believers look up to our heavenly home in confident hope. Jesus promises us a New Heaven and a New Earth, as well as a New Jerusalem.

Paul wrote…

Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Philippians 3: 13b-14 NLT

Do you hear Jesus calling your name?

Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart -- let Him in!
Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart — let Him in!

What are you waiting for?

Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift and Confident Hope of Eternal Life…

From Jericho to Jerusalem


God’s Calendar – Finding Jesus in the Jewish Festivals



Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!

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