Psalms of Ascent: 125

1   Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
2   As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people,
from this time forth and forevermore.
3   For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest
on the land allotted to the righteous,
lest the righteous stretch out/their hands to do wrong.
4   Do good, O Lord, to those who are good,
and to those who are upright in their hearts!
5   But those who turn aside to their crooked ways
the Lord will lead away with evildoers!/Peace be upon Israel!

Reading through the Old Testament, it’s not hard to see that Israelite history is unsteady at best. They went through slavery, wilderness, evil leaders, war, famine, exile, and a lot more. When they experienced stability as a nation, it was never for long. But they had something better than national stability. They had the presence of a stable God. Psalm 125 is a celebration of that.

Verse 1 says those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion. Mount Zion was both an actual place the Israelites would have been to, and represents the Kingdom and of God. This gives two pictures of security in God. The first is an actual mountain that surrounds the city of Jerusalem, and serves as protective walls to keep out enemies. The second is God’s presence. God’s presence surrounds his people like unmovable walls.

Despite what it sounds like it’s implying, perfection is not a requirement for God’s mountain-like security. “Those who trust in the Lord,” put simply, are those who believe God will help them. The emphasis is not against those who doubt, but against those who put their trust in someone or something else.

Verses 4 and 5 are a prayer asking God to bring peace to those who trust him by removing threats from outside and inside of their walls. It’s a prayer that God would do what they already praised him for in verses 1-3. There is a dissonance between what they know to be true about God and their lived experience. But they had hope in the promises of powerful and loving God.

The Advent season is about living in a similar dissonance. We have experienced grace and joy in knowing Christ, and God has made promises to protect and care for his people. But we don’t always feel that way. We rejoice in Christ’s arrival on earth while yearning for his second arrival.

We have an already/not-yet experience of Christ. We are one with Jesus and experience the blessings of our union with him. But we are not yet face-to-face with him. Psalm 125 shows us to live in this tension: Rejoice in God’s promises with faith and obedience, and pray that they are fulfilled soon.