After the lengthy Psalm 119 and its celebration of God’s law, it seems like a good time for a series of brief, focused Psalms of praise. Each of them is labeled as a “Song of Ascents,” the meaning of which is unclear. They could be songs that were sung while journeying toward Jerusalem, or while climbing the steps of the Temple mount. It’s possible they are to strive toward a musical crescendo. Or there is possibly, even likely, another meaning altogether that escapes us.
Regardless of the true meaning, you’ll get to know what a “Song of Ascents” feels like by the end of today’s reading. A number of them have an idea near the center around which they pivot, such as 123 around “mercy” and 129 around “wait.” You’ll also notice an emphasis on Zion’s position, as in Psalm 122: Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together, to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD. There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David.
Notice the hopeful tension that inhabits many of the prayers. Individual and national distress are often close to the composer’s mind. But the Psalmist faithfully proclaims that Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth... O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with Him is plentiful redemption. And He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
Our verse for this week is James 5:16: Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Psalms 120 through 131. Now let’s read it!
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.