This morning’s sermon looked at Psalm 125, continuing in our series looking at the Psalms of Ascent. The psalm begins by comparing God’s people to Mount Zion ‘which cannot be shaken but endures forever.’ (Ps 125:1) Mountains are solid and sturdy, not easily shaken, but majestic in splendour and offering good protection to enclosed cities. To pilgrims making their way to Jerusalem, Mount Zion represented security. It had not always been the capital city of Israel, but was captured by David from the Jebusites (2 Sam 5:6-12) when he wanted to unify the northern tribes with the southern tribes and it symbolised the security and refuge which God provided (Ps 46:1). In likening those who trust in God to a mountain, the psalmist reminds us that people of faith are not actually like waves of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind (James 1:6, Eph 4:14). They have far more durability and solidity than we might assume from how we might often feel.
The security and solidity we know as God’s people does not come from our stability, however! Our feelings may make us feel more like a rollercoaster than a mountain, but the security promised in this psalm comes from God who assures us He is there to protect us at all times (see Ps 4:8, Prov 3:24-26). Jesus emphasised there is no need for worry, fear and anxiety to rule our lives, for we have a heavenly Father who knows our needs and is able to provide for them all, as He does for the lilies and the sparrows (see Matt 6:25-34). His faithfulness, everlasting love and awesome power are working on our behalf at all times, remaining faithful even when we are not (see 1 Cor 10:13, 2 Tim 2:13). Ps 125:3 goes on to remind us that evil is not infinite and will not last forever; we have a hope that goes beyond the grave (see 1 Cor 15:14-19, Rev 21:4). God’s ability to save and deliver cannot be explained or predicted, but as numerous occasions testify (eg when Abraham was spared from slaying Isaac or the walls of Jericho fell down), He is the One who is able to rescue! No matter how dire the situations we face, God is able to deliver, for He will never leave us or forsake us (see Lam 3:22-24, The Message).
The psalm ends with two prayers. We can identify with both of them, asking God to bless those who do good and banish those who are evil, though we must remember Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies as well as for our friends! The last prayer in the psalm says ‘Peace be on Israel.’ (Ps 125:5) Shalom, that sense of peaceful wellbeing and relaxed contentment, is God’s gift to us (see also John 14:27, Phil 4:6-7).
Psalm 125 is a psalm of reassurance and security, therefore. It reminds us of God’s ability to protect us and keep us and help us and assures us that God is not only able to help, but is also willing. It reminds us that evil doesn’t have the last word and God is in control of our lives and in control of the world. It reminds us also of the great gift of peace which God has promised us. Paul ends his second letter to the Thessalonians in this way: ‘Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.’ (2 Thess 3:16) Peace be with us all.