Lord, I come into Your presence with a sense of expectant joy and deep confidence in who You are. Meet with me today.
Consider: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
This is the first of a group of psalms (120-134) called the Psalms of Ascents. They were sung by pilgrim bands making the journey to Jerusalem, primarily for one of the three great annual feasts. Singing helps those on a long hot journey keep their morale up. Singing lifts the spirits, and the lyrics remind us of why we long to meet with the living God.
Here the psalmist puts into words the heart desire of the pilgrims. Going to Jerusalem was not just a ritual but a God-appointment. God is viewed in many ways, but here he is seen as a God of justice. He hates all that exploits and degrades and comes alongside victims of oppression and violence. What shines through is the expectation that God not only hears their cries but will do something about them. He may use the king and his forces to work for him, or the prophet to denounce public evil. He may, however, intervene in a more direct and dramatic manner. But the writer is convinced that, however God responds, it will not be with indifference or disinterest.
The specific concerns begin with the tongue and the distortion of truth through rewriting of reality. How easily lies can weave a web of falsehood which ensnares those who are taken in! The satanic purpose in such deceit is to provoke distrust, to break down community or to set families, peoples and groups against one another. This deceit must be brought to a sharp end, be dealt with and dispatched. The psalmist believes that God not only desires justice and hates false speech, but also positively wants shalom--not simply an absence of conflict but harmony and restored relationships. With this burden they go confidently to Jerusalem.
What current injustices locally, nationally and globally grieve the heart of God? What will your church do to advocate for justice and show compassion to the voiceless and the vulnerable?
Father, place a guard on my mouth; I can say foolish and hurtful things. May my words build up rather than pull down, bring peace rather than pain.
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