To help guide our minds and hearts as we prepare for our worship in the Lord’s house of prayer this day, we turn to the sixth of the “songs of Ascent”, Psalm 125. As we read this portion of God’s Word, we can hear the men, women and children singing this song as Mt.Zion, the mountain of God, and Jerusalem, the city of God, come into view and the pilgrims begin making the climb to their destination. Listen to them:
They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.
2 As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth even for ever.
3 For the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous; lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity.
4 Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good, and to them that are upright in their hearts.
5 As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity: but peace shall be upon Israel.
Can we picture it? With the help of a picture of Jerusalem built on Mt.Zion, one of the seven peaks in that area, we can. And then we can understand why this metaphor entered the psalmist’s mind and became the inspiration for writing this psalm, under the guidance of the Spirit of Christ.
The people would have come a long way by the time they reached the holy city, and they would have come through many dangers. The site of the mountains around Jerusalem pointed the saints to their temporal and eternal security in the Lord their God. Jehovah, their mighty Savior and strong Defender, surrounded them in His grace and love. In Him they were safe in the face of all natural dangers and spiritual evils. Their arrival at the gates of Jerusalem proved that to them.
And seeing the mighty hills of God around Jerusalem and seeing the temple on Mt.Zion taught them to place all their trust in this God alone, v.1. They must live by faith and not by sight. That faith would be rewarded in their worship, as they would receive from the Lord God the assurance of their salvation from and security in Him.
It is no different for the NT church and people of God. Though we no longer go up to the physical city of Jerusalem when we worship, we do go up to the spiritual mountain of God’s presence and we do enter the spiritual city of God’s sovereign rule and protection in Jesus Christ. Wherever God’s church gathers, even if it is only two or three saints and in a flimsy shelter or open field, God surrounds her and is in the midst of her; she cannot be moved (Ps.46:5). Yes, wherever we meet today today, our King is with us and around us, and we are safe and secure by sovereign grace and the Spirit of our Lord! Nothing and no one can take us away from our God or remove us from His saving presence! The gates of hell cannot prevail against Christ’s church (Matt.16:18)! Are we conscious of this today as we go up to the hill of our God?
But then we too must trust in Him, v.1! Not the safety any building affords us or the security any earthly ruler may grant us must give us our confidence. Our hope and trust must be in the Lord alone! Our faith must be in the One Who surrounds us in Christ! We must look up, not to any physical mountains, but to the Lord and His sovereign presence with us! Are we doing that, even now as we prepare for worship?
Then we too will not want the rod of the wicked to rest on us, v.3. We will not seek the rule of evil in our midst, lest we join the wicked around us and stretch out our hands to iniquity. Many churches and people have done exactly that, as they have fallen into unbelief and departed from the good ways of God’s Word and covenant. Israel of old did too and was severely chastised. And we are certainly capable of that sin of apostasy. Let us learn and be warned! Let us seek only the Lord and His ways of truth and righteousness! Let us continue in the ways of His covenant, walking in the friendship and fellowship of our God!
And so, let us pray, as the saints did in this song, v.4: “Do good, O LORD, unto those that be good, and to them that are upright in their hearts.” “Good” by grace alone, of course. For we know well the curse of the Lord that comes on those who turn aside and walk crookedly, v.5. We want the peace of God on Israel. And that can be only when God is good to us in Christ, pardoning our sins, making us holy so as to delight in His ways, and preserving us unto our eternal home. For that we must pray. Daily. On the Lord’s Day too. Shall we?
May you and I, in the way of trusting in this mighty God of grace, experience this peace and security today.
If you wish to meditate on this psalm through the music of the Psalter, we give you this versification of Psalm 125 and point you to this page where you may also find piano accompaniment so that you may sing along.
1. Like Zion’s steadfast mount are they
Who in the Lord confide;
Secure, immovable they stand,
Forever to abide.
2. As round about Jerusalem
The mountains give defense,
Jehovah is His people’s guard,
Their lasting confidence.
3. No tyrant’s scepter o’er the good
Shall undisturbed abide,
Lest righteous men, oppressed by wrong,
To evil turn aside.
4. O Thou Jehovah, to the good
Thy goodness now impart,
Thy lovingkindness show to them
That upright are in heart.
5. All those that turn from righteousness
With wayward, wandering feet,
With sinners God will lead them forth,
The sinner’s doom to meet.
6. O Thou Who are Thy people’s shield,
Their helper and their guide,
Upon them let Thy grace and peace