Psalm 120 Commentary

Psalm 120 Commentary

In just 7 short verses, Psalm 120 comes to a close. It feels like a cheat, having come from Psalm 119 which is the longest chapter in the entire holy script. But looks shouldn’t deceive us. There is great value for our day, part of which we shall examine here.

Verse 1 starts with the statement that the distressed psalmist cried out to the LORD. Are there hints in this chapter to help us understand the cause of the distress? He also claims that the LORD answered him. Is there evidence in these lines as to help us know the color and shape of the answer?

The psalmist’s problem is with the deception around him – the fact that he lives in a world of deception. It should distress the saint that they live in a world designed to function on deception. Deception is the fuel that drives the world’s economy.

How does the saint navigate his way without this fuel? The psalmist hasn’t exactly asked this question but we do. However, his question is similar. What happens when an individual thrives on this fuel? Punishment; heavy punishment. The psalmist is now worried.

He has lived in the world of deception for a very long time. Is he afraid that he has possibly used this bad fuel to get by? Is he asking how he can possibly get by without the fuel of deception in his locality?

While the saint is happy that one day deception will be wiped out, he is worried about his own possible involvement in the deception. I have possibly taken a liking to this meal. I have possibly ridden on deception to climb out of the pit. I have possibly sinned exactly like the ungodly who are on hell’s waiting list.

The saint can expand his understanding by looking deep into the scripture. In the Garden of peace and tranquility, it is the deception that initiated the fall. From then onwards, the world has thrived on deception. So the psalmist is not distressed by an element of ungodliness; but rather, by the main thing itself.

Then the psalm ends with words that remind the saint of his own daily battle. It is a tired statement. The tone is low. You feel like praying for strength. When you shout ‘peace’, 10 neighbors respond in unison and like a chorus, ‘war’. And he hates this neighborhood.

This psalm leaves the saint feeling like it is not yet done. But the saint is happy that the holy script hasn’t ended with this psalm. The Book of Revelation completes the saint’s story. The saint can look forward to a day when deception will be wiped out. And the saint can once again live in the presence of the Immortal God like it was back in the Garden of peace and tranquility.

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Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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