Psalm Reading Program
UCG-INSD Churches CMK Beginning January 1, 2012
Week 29 (Feast of Tabernacles), Psalm 125-130 for November 19-23, 2012
Continuing the 15 Psalms of Ascents (120-134), #6-11.
Psalms 124-126 follow up with different aspects of deliverance and protection, resulting in faith and thankfulness.
6. Psalm 125
Author: Not known.
Time/Occasion: Not known.
Main theme: A hymn of trust and security.
This is written from the standpoint of the "pilgrims" arriving with Jerusalem in view, or attending the Feast at Jerusalem. The mountainous terrain surrounding Jerusalem gave the city some protection from invasion, and this idea is extended to the spiritual protection of God.
Personal application: A great principle of faith is that we can't/won't save or protect ourselves by our strength or wisdom. The best, and ultimately the only, protection is to trust your life with God.
V. 1. There have been, and will always be, times when the Church is fearful and negative. But, we must fight those attitudes and remember that the Church, metaphorically described as Mt. Zion, cannot be removed and will endure forever.
V. 5. "...Peace shall be upon thee" may be a shortened version of the Aaronic benediction of Numbers 6:24-26. Christ has peace to give. Notice the four successive statements in John 14:27. God's gift and future of peace is a theme throughout the Bible. We should have a peaceful life despite the trials of a life following Christ.
Note: Nehemiah 6 with its story of betrayal of God's people by some of its own leaders fits with the theme and lesson of this psalm and the entire Festival Psalter
7. Psalm 126
Author: Not known.
Time/Occasion: This psalm appears to be tied directly to Nehemiah's time. The Jewish exiles were ecstatic when Cyrus directed that they return and rebuild Jerusalem. This is recorded in 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 and Ezra 1:1-3. Years later there was still no progress in the work because of the opposition and even terrorism of the Samaritans. Nehemiah's prayer in Chapter 1 is the request of V. 4ff -- to renew their progress in accomplishing the original goal of rebuilding Jerusalem -- doing the Work of God at that time.
Main theme: Endurance to the end will bring success and joy.
Secondary theme: This is also a prophecy of the Second Exodus of Jeremiah 16 and 23, Ezekiel 20, etc.
Hymnal: #130 To God Be the Glory (related theme).
Personal application: The principle of enduring to receive the reward is pictured in keeping the Feast. It's a great joy to go to the Feast, but there are always difficulties of one sort or another and attitudes to manage in order to complete the whole festival in a right attitude and receive the benefit of observing the Feast of the Lord. It must be kept in faith in order to be His Feast.
This psalm has many spiritual lessons for God's people. The starting point refers to Cyrus' command to rebuild the physical city. This is a type of God's command and commission at conversion for each of us to build our part of His spiritual temple. God's plan is a "dream" too good to be true! This produces great joy at first, but as life drags on so does God's work in us. There are trials, setbacks, and periods of discouragement throughout our Christian lives. We must be renewed many times and endure to the end.
V. 5. The principle here has been a part of doing the Work of God in all ages. There is much toil and grief to this physical life in the first place. Going against the grain of society and the god of this world brings trial and conflict. The gospel must be sown in tears from time to time.
V. 6. The farmer may have difficulty getting the crop in and tending it through the season, but he rejoices with the precious fruit of the harvest (James 5:7). Likewise, each of us and the Church in general has difficulty growing the crop and doing the work of God. What precious seed do we bear? God's Holy Spirit is the seed that produces fruit in us. The harvest metaphor is used in both the OT and NT. The Church must "sow in tears." Those who endure will indeed be rewarded with success and possess even greater joy than when they first started.
The conclusion of this short festival psalm is a beautiful prophecy for all those who are working in the work of God: Ultimately, there WILL "doubtless" be a reward! Note Galatians 6:9. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Psalms 127 and 128 are a pair with festival themes of marriage, family, and children. Building the house in 127 and mention of Zion and Jerusalem in 128 tie the foundational institution of the physical family to the ultimate spiritual goal, the family of God.
8. Psalm 127
Author: The superscription names Solomon, but scholars say it's possible it was a later Psalm with some connection to one of his many proverbs or lessons taught by him. It's possible that an old Solomonic psalm was reworked for this HD Psalter, a practice which seems to have been done for special occasions several times in Israel's history.
Time/Occasion: Not known, but it seems to fit the time of Nehemiah -- a time of reconstruction of houses and rebuilding of families. All were worried about guarding the city. Children were the hope of the future. Many scholars point out the obvious turn in direction at verse 3 that shows the Psalm could have been put together from two previous compositions. The connection is easy to make. Without reproducing and creating the next generation, a family does not continue.
Main theme: The necessity of God's help and the vanity of building without His help.
Secondary theme: Family is at the center of the success of any nation or long-lasting venture.
Hymnal: #98 Hearts of the Fathers.
Personal application: The "house" is your life, the family is God's, in which we have a huge stake. The success of the big ventures of one's life or the nation's life requires God's active blessing. Without it, man is doomed to failure, for it is God who provides all that is needed from physical protection to the blessing and gift of children. God's help is essential for success of building, not only in the physical realm, but the lasting, spiritual realm.
9. Psalm 128
Author: Not known.
Time/Occasion: Not known -- a continuation of the previous psalm.
Main theme: The blessings of God's way in a family setting.
#76 Unless the Lord Shall Build the House
#77 Blest and Happy Is He.
Personal application: God's way works! A happy, productive, peaceful family, blessed by keeping God's laws is a picture of life in general in this psalm. All physical entities are plagued by many problems. However, in the midst of all the difficulties, toil, and grief of the physical realm, the pure, wholesome goodness of God endures through the ages and in each of the lives of those who fear (love) and obey God.
V. 4-6. The last section pronounces a blessing on those who love God (His Firstfruits) and prophesies of the "prosperity" of Jerusalem and peace being placed on Israel in the future.
V. 5. The Lord Jesus sends blessings through His Church, "Zion." Some blessings come ONLY through membership in His Church and through the Church to the world.
10. Psalm 129
Author: Not Known.
Time/Occasion: Not known. Various guesses have been made from the attack of Sennacherib to the Babylonian captivity to Nehemiah's time -- all times of bitter persecution and pain. This can be taken as an overview of Israel's national life from her "youth" enslaved in Egypt, through many attacks and punishments by hostile enemies that she has survived. The ploughed back speaks of extreme cruelty. This is certainly a prophecy of the end times as well.
Main theme: Persecution and deliverance, or "burned but not consumed" (referring to the burning bush).
This psalm connects with the Feast of Trumpets. The greatest time of persecution in world history will be leading up to and during the Day of the Lord. The member of the Ekklesia who looks back over His life at the time of His reward is pictured here. He is "still standing" -- has overcome, persevered, and survived. He is triumphant. Each of the Firstfruits will have survived spiritual warfare and have scars by the time of the resurrection. We must all suffer persecution for Christ's sake (2 Timothy 3:12). At any time we can look back at the amazing experiences by which God has brought us this far and taught us valuable lessons.
We have to watch our attitudes when we are taken advantage of and suffer injustice, cruelty, and many other painful insults and injuries. Persecution has predictable results in the natural carnal man: deep hatred, fighting back in kind -- revenge, grudges, desire for retaliation -- all the evil attitudes of Satan's mind.
Persecution has different results in converted people as they fight these evil attitudes. Four major ones are: 1) The victim earnestly desires that the ungodly destroyers be brought to total failure in their evil plans (without hating them). 2) They develop a deep conviction to not become like the perpetrators: They hate injustice and cruelty and would never do the same to others. 3) They develop real compassion for fellow humans who are suffering at the hand of Satan and his world. 4) There is a deep agreement with God and a desire to help in God's work -- to right the wrongs and help Christ bring goodness and righteousness to fellow man. So we can see why God allows injustice and cruelty. In the end allowing evil in this world is the best way to eradicate Satan's way of thinking and bring everyone to the point of profound agreement with God. This is conversion.
11. Psalm 130
Author: Not Known.
Time/Occasion: Not known. This is one of the penitential Psalms, connecting it with The Day of Atonement. It has been labeled "De Profundis," meaning out of the depths. It pictures Israel in the end times and applies to all individual worshippers. V. 8 prophesies what Paul does in Romans 11:26, quoting this Psalm: "All Israel shall be saved!" How? By the great Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Main theme: Repentance and forgiveness.
Hymnal: #120 We Hope in Your Mercy.
Personal application: This psalm goes to the central core of Christianity. Repentance and forgiveness start the whole process of conversion. What is striking is the earnestness of the prayer: "I cried to thee," "my supplications," "the depths" -- all are expressions of extreme, fervent emotion fitting for the Day of Atonement. Also striking is the degree of God's commitment in V. 7. "plenteous redemption" expresses God's fervent desire for a relationship of peace with us. With both the Father and Son having this attitude toward us, how can we not run to the Throne of Grace to keep things straight with God in our lives.
The Day of atonement is vital to the keeping of the other fall Holy Days!