Ahhhh, the Psalms of the Ascents. I know I reference Beth Moore time and again, but the studies the Lord creates through her are amazing and so relate-able.
I have previously studied the Psalms of the Ascents (Psalms 120-134) in the Beth Moore study, Stepping Up, and her insight into them is so wonderfully in-depth.
Today, we are going to study some of those Psalms and it’s going to be like going home for me. I hope you each enjoy today’s scripture reading as much as I do, or MOORE!
Today’s scripture passage: Psalms, chapters 121, 123-125, 128-130
I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (121:1-2, NIV)
In the Stepping Up study, Beth (yes, I pretend that we are on a first-name basis) gives a ton of historical background information, which is not only exciting but really opens up these scriptures in a whole new way. I’m not even going to venture into an attempt to retell all of the information she shared, because I know I would not do it justice, except to say that these Psalms were written as songs that were sung by these groups of people on the road to or from pilgrimages. They are prayers for protection, they are songs of revival and rejoicing, they are songs for inner peace and inner strength through He who leads us all. These are powerful Psalms!
He will not let your foot slip–he who watches over you will not slumber. (121:3, NIV)
Does anyone else out there ever fall asleep while trying to pray? I don’t know how many of my bedtime prayers I actually get finished with “Amen” before I fall into a peaceful slumber, but let me admit right here and now that the odds aren’t good. Maybe there is just something that comes over me, such a peace that sleep is really the only natural thing to do…even if it does come in the middle of prayer. I console myself with the knowledge that I pray several more times each day, both formally in quiet time and informally more in conversation mode with my best friend, but still, falling asleep during prayer isn’t something to brag about.
Our Lord never sleeps, though! He watches over us, lives with us, dwells within us every moment of every day, without fail. Isn’t that an amazing, wonderful, overwhelmingly cool thing to let sink in? It’s like sometimes I know that and sometimes I know it. Sometimes, His Presence hits me and I can’t do a thing but smile and kind of hug myself, and in hugging myself, I am hugging Him. It’s just cool.
The Lord will keep you from all harm–he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. (121:7-8, NIV)
I realize that people in this world view what I am about to say from so many different angles that I can hardly even fathom all the reasoning, but I believe this is a great scripture to share this belief with you. I believe that the Lord does not cause bad things to happen to those of us who believe in Him, but He is not going to allow something bad happen without using it to further His kingdom in some way. Death happens all around us, every day, and each of us are effected by it. We’ve all lost loved ones to sickness and death, we’ve all known tragedy, but it’s how we react to those times and grow from it that makes all the difference in His world. There are people I have lost, dear wonderful loved ones, and just when I get sad and down in the dumps because they’re not here to share this life with me any more, I take solace in the fact that 1)They’re in heaven, and 2)I got to know them when they walked the earth. My life was better from knowing them, and hopefully my life can be a better influence on someone else, as well.
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until He is gracious to us. (123:2, NASB)
God does not clock in and out by human standards. Our time is not His time, so we must look to Him always with patience. We know not His plan. We know not His timeline. We look to Him and as we do, in His time, He reveals His plan for each of our lives one step at a time.
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (124:8, NASB)
Isn’t it a wonderfully beautiful thing, this timeless gift of the Living Word of God? As relevant today as it was in the time of David.
Those who trust in the Lord as as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved by abides forever. (125:1, NASB)
Don’t you just love that imagery? My faith in the Lord makes me like a mighty mountain, unmovable and under His protection.
Do good, O Lord, to those who are good and to those who are upright in their hearts. (125:4, NASB)
I wish sometimes that people could see more of what’s in my heart than what I wear on my sleeve. Sometimes, my natural human response is so much harder and colder than my inner heart response is to a person or situation. Can anyone relate? My heart overflows with love and compassion, but my logical mind takes over oftentimes before my generous heart can over-ride it. I want to live upright in heart, but I also want to show more of that uprightness (I’m just making up all kinds of words today) in my outward self, as well. I’ll have to really work on that one; the “softer side” of Marilyn.
Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways. (128:1, KJV)
YOU are blessed, my friends! I am blessed. We have a healthy fear of the Lord that keeps us in His Word, that keeps us in prayerful conversation with Him, and that keeps each of us on the straight-and-narrow looking to Him for guidance and protection. We look to Him with faithful expectation, and for that we are blessed.
I would like to close today’s thoughts with rereading the final Psalm in the King James translation. Psalms 130:
Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O lord.
Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.
If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.
Let Israel hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.
And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
We cry out to Him and He hears our every word. Without Him, there is no hope. With Him, we have everything. We have hope!
Although I am not really an evangelical person, scriptures like today’s passages make me want to get out and help others find hope who may not know Him otherwise. There are so many who do not know how tangible hope truly is, but in knowing the Lord, we know all that can be and is through Him who gives hope and mercy all the days of our lives.
Make it a great day,
Tomorrow’s scripture reading: 2 Samuel, chapters 1-4
The blessing of the Lord be upon you; we bless you in the name of the Lord. (129:8, KJV)