Meditation on Psalms 120-122 – Hard Times and Help

For this week, the daily devotionals will be in a slightly different form. Our church has a week of prayer. To help people with their praying, I am recording a short video each day. The first one was yesterday and is available below:

There is a summary below if you would prefer to read rather than watch.

How many times have we been asked, “How are you?” and responded, “I’m fine!” even (or especially) when we’re not fine?

We can find it hard to open up to others, but the Bible (and the psalms especially) is full of people being completely real with God, both when they’re fine and when they’re not.

The journey starts with a cry for help in Psalm 120 written by a pilgrim who is far away from Jerusalem.  v1:  “In my distress”.

He challenges people around him in v3-4, before lamenting his own condition.  The two places in v5 are located far away.  They symbolise living in the world and feeling far from the Lord.  He continues to express his grief at the attitudes of those around (v6-7).  He is a man of peace, but his neighbours hate peace.

Living in a fallen world is draining for the child of God.  We are not of this world, although we live in it.  This is why coming to seek God’s face is so vital; this is where we find our refreshing from the Lord.  And this is why we long for corporate worship also – we need to be among the people of God in the presence of God.

Even though it is hard for the psalmist, he is not alone.  From telling the Lord about his trouble, the psalmist moves on to describe the Lord, who is his help in trouble (Psalm 121):

  • The Maker of heaven and earth
  • He never sleeps
  • He watches over our lives and cares for us.
  • This is permanent.

So, yes we live in a fallen world, but we are not alone.  Our Maker is our Helper.  He is with us.  That is why we pray.

From this perspective of bringing their personal trouble to their Helper, the Maker of heaven and earth, the pilgrims move on to praise God for the temple and to pray for the city where they are going (Psalm 122).

As New Covenant believers, we are not bound by a place or a building. but we do come together as a people.  We long for the time when that will be possible again.  

Do you relate to this: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.'”?  What an attitude to coming together as a congregation!  Is that your attitude?  We need to pray for each other, for a real delight in meeting Him together.

The pilgrims pray for the peace of the city and the good of the city (v4-8).  We don’t come to a physical city, but we are part of the new Jerusalem, the people of God.  Do we pray for God’s peace, His shalom, His well being (v7-8)?  Do we pray for the good of the people of God (v9)?  

It is vital that we pray for each other’s spiritual well-being and growth, as well as each other’s physical needs.

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