Psalm 120

Psalm 120

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Deliver Me, O Lord

A Song of Ascents.

120   In my distress I called to the LORD,
    and he answered me.
  Deliver me, O LORD,
    from lying lips,
    from a deceitful tongue.
  What shall be given to you,
    and what more shall be done to you,
    you deceitful tongue?
  A warrior’s sharp arrows,
    with glowing coals of the broom tree!
  Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech,
    that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
  Too long have I had my dwelling
    among those who hate peace.
  I am for peace,
    but when I speak, they are for war!

(ESV)


Psalm 120 Commentary

by Hank Workman

They are called the Pilgrim Psalms or Songs of Ascent.  Psalm 120 is the first of 15 each with the same title.  These songs were sung by those who journeyed to the temple to worship during the feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.  As some state, they were sung with each step made toward their destination.  It is likely Jesus sung these same songs on His many journeys to Jerusalem from Galilee.

What do you do when people speak falsehoods against you?  How do you respond?  Some lash out and speak right back offering a warlike stature of fighting for their reputation.  Others go silent.  As this psalm speaks, the correct initial response is to let the Lord defend.  Crying out in distress, the psalmist brings the issue before his God.  He cried out and God heard.  As Spurgeon notes, “It is of little use to appeal to our fellows on the matter of slander, for the more we stir in it the more it spreads.  It is of no avail to appeal to the honor of the slanderers, for they have none.”  

The psalmist cries of the issue and remembers God’s faithfulness in the past and knows assuredly He will be faithful in the present.  The singer knows the lies are not true as he states they were spoken by lying lips and with a deceitful tongue.  In his plea he knows only God can deliver his soul.  He also knows God knows the truth.

There is much to be said about falsehoods spoken against us.  We do not escape such things.  The godly response is to first seek out our God to see if there is something of truth to them.  Meaning, we ask God to search our own heart and reveal.  “Search me O God and know my heart…” (Psalm 139:23-24) is the truth we must first look toward.  The second critical aspect is to then and only after we have allowed God to convict if these things are true or strengthen us despite the words spoken against, to move in His wisdom and not our own.  The fruit of a liar is known.  Not just by ourselves but by others.  There is something to be said about resting in what we have discovered through our own soul search if truth was there or not.  We must rest in our God who can defend us.  For just as the fruit of others is visible, so is ours.  This is something to consider.


Psalm 120 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

“The Meshechites were presumably descended from Meshech, a grandson of Noah through Japheth (Gen 10:2; 1Ch 1:5). They were said to trade in slaves and copper (Eze 27:13), and may have invaded the Near East from the north. Often associated with the tribe of Tubal, they were infamous for their violence (Eze 32:26). The tribe of Kedar, whose name may mean “black” or “swarthy,” were Ishmaelites (Gen 25:13; 1Ch 1:29). As nomads in the desert area to the east of Israel, they controlled the caravan routes between Palestine and Egypt, tending large flocks (Isa 60:7) and, it was said, living in black tents. One of Nehemiah’s enemies may have been a king of Kedar.”

Nelson’s Commentary

Those who oppose God have no peace. The psalmist desires peace (and even expects it) from his enemies because He knows this is a characteristic of God. He believes that in the Kingdom of Heaven, peace reigns supreme. It is not referring just to people who get along with each other, but being at peace with a holy God. One scholar writes, “the hopefulness and wholesomeness of life when living is knit into the fabric of relatedness to God and others and world. It is the at-one-ness that makes for goodness.”

The irony here is that under the old covenant the people of God were quick to judge the Gentile nations. Their desire much of the time was for God to destroy the surrounding enemies and ascend their nation to prosperity. Under Jesus, we now have missionaries who intentionally enter into pagan tribes and nations in order to bring them the Gospel. They risk their own lives to bring a message of peace and hope. As Christians, we have found the truest peace, and wish to share it with the world even if that means facing war and death.

It’s important to distinguish the calling we have as peacemakers in this world. We can stand up for truth while also standing for peace.

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