March 31: Psalm 125

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March 31: Psalm 125

The Presence of God like the mountains of Jerusalem

Common Meter 86.86      St. Anne (O God, Our Help in Ages Past), p. 39
Dundee (God Works in a Mysterious Way His Wonders to Perform), p. 40

Like Zion’s mountain shall they be who in the Lord confide,

A mount which never can be moved but ever shall abide.

As all around Jerusalem the mountains firmly stand,

The Lord for evermore surrounds the people of His hand.

Upon the land of righteous ones no evil rule shall press,

Lest righteous men put forth their hands to work unrighteousness.

O Lord, to those men who are good show Yourself good and kind,

And likewise show Your goodness to all them of upright mind.

Yet shall the Lord drive out all those in crooked ways who dwell,

Along with all who practice sin; but peace on Is-ra-el!

Psalm 125 speaks of God as surrounding us as the mountains surround Jerusalem. The reference is to the Lord’s protection of His people, a security symbolized in the elevated, walled city of Jerusalem.  Thus does Psalm 125 speak of this security: “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion.” One of Israel’s great mistakes, exemplified during the lifetime of Jeremiah and vigorously condemned by him, was to regard these blessings of protection and peace in a political sense, as though Jerusalem benefited from some kind of automatic geopolitical immunity from harm, no matter how wicked its ways and unrighteous the lives of its inhabitants. This protection and this peace, however, are essentially matters of the spirit. The reason that the Lord “will not suffer the rod of sinners over the inheritance of the righteous” is a concern “lest the righteous reach out their hands unto evil.” The Lord’s concern, that is to say, is chiefly for the safety of our souls. He extends no promises of protection nor guarantees of peace except “to the good, and to the upright in heart” (verse 4). Life in God’s Church is no different. The protection He promises us is a matter of the spirit, not necessarily a deliverance from those who can kill the body. On the contrary, the Lord solemnly assured us, “In the world, you will have tribulation.” In the context of our psalm, then, the promise of divine protection is not disassociated from a moral concern. Should the inhabitants of Zion “stray aside to evil ways,” the Lord will not protect them. To abide in Zion, therefore, to confide in those blessed mountains round about her, is a task as well as a grace. And how does the Lord Himself describe this task? “Abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:9-10). To abide in the love of God, manifested in the observance of His commandments, is to dwell in Jerusalem. Such a dweller will never be shaken, promises our psalm. (Reardon, p. 249-250)

Prepare, as the pilgrims of old, for entrance into the city of Jerusalem with Christ, as the day of Palm Sunday approaches.

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