Drawing near to the Lord!

Scripture reading for June 27: Psalms 120-127

The “songs of ascent” were songs sung by pilgrims as they traveled on their three required yearly visits to the temple for the celebrations of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles.  The pilgrims usually came up the road from Jericho to Jerusalem and experienced an elevation change from 1200 feet below sea level in the Dead Sea and Jericho area to over 2600 feet above sea level in Jerusalem.  The climb was difficult for several reasons.  It was a dry area with little water and the terrain was rough.  It was also an area known to be inhabited by robbers who would prey on the pilgrims.

The first psalm in this series began with the pilgrim in a place of distress.  He was among those who hated peace; deceitful people with lying tongues.  He was far from God’s house and God’s people and realized his need to call on the Lord and meet with Him in the city of God.  This journey may be what you need today, take time to call on the Lord and decide to move towards Him!

Psalm 121 is a favorite of many, and I memorized it as a child in Sunday School.  As the psalmist began the journey upward to Jerusalem, his eyes saw the hills and he realized that he needed God’s strength and help.   The climb was difficult and there were many dangers. He confessed that his help came from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.  (Psalm 121:2) He trusts God will keep him safe from the hot sun of the day and the treachery of darkness!  He believes God will keep him from all and any harm, not only now but forever!  What an encouragement for us today!  No matter what obstacle or hazard or mountain of difficulty, God is with us to help us!

The central goal of the journey was Jerusalem, the city of God and God’s dwelling place!  Psalm 122 is a song that reminds the traveler of the joy that awaits him and his fellow-pilgrims when they arrive.  They long to stand in the gates of that city and can actually see themselves there.  It’s a city closely compacted, a tight-knit community centered around the temple and worship of the Lord, Maker of Heaven and Earth!  The tribes go up to praise the Lord according to His statutes! (Psalm 122:4)  Jerusalem is the city of ‘peace’ and all are encouraged to pray for the peace of the city.  In a world where war, hatred, lying and deceitful tongues form the social context of where we live every day, peace is the norm in God’s city.  It comes by prayer and consistent seeking.  Will you take time today to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and to seek it’s prosperity! How do these songs of ascent help you move towards God?

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