|Vol. 16, No. 1, Jan. – Feb. 1987||EDITOR: Mr. Harry Foster|
ON THE WAY UP (1)
Psalm 120 STIRRING UP
THERE is a series of fifteen psalms which bear the title ‘Song of Ascents’ but there is no observable pattern of upward movement in them, though this seems to be their general direction. The first of the series (120) gives an indication of why the pilgrim moved out in the first place, while the final one (134) seems to find him at the summit.
THIS first of the group finds the psalmist in real distress, so much so that he appears to have reached the end of his tether. ‘Woe is me!’ he cries. ‘I have lived too long in this dreadful environment. I must get out!’ In this he is perhaps a representative of many spiritual pilgrims. We turned to Christ out of sheer inability to bear the distress of life in this world. Theologically we turned to Christ because we were called, but experientially it was because we had to get out of a life that was intolerable without Him. We fled from the coming wrath (Matthew 3:7): we fled to Jesus for refuge (Hebrews 6:18).
I have therefore entitled this psalm, ‘Stirring Up’. The writer only desired to live in peace, but his surroundings made it impossible. In our case it was not our circumstances but our own sins which robbed us of the desired peace and stirred us up, but the result was the same.
TWO things are said about this world: it was a world of deceit and a warring world. He could stand its ties and tensions no longer. Spiritually that was our world: “At one time we were … deceived … hateful, hating one another” (Titus 3:3). We needed to be saved from ourselves.
THE psalmist cried to God to deliver him from a world of lies and deceit. That is our world, also. The whole of our godless society is a lie; its promises unreliable and its judgments full of falsehood, not necessarily because men so wish it but because it is a condemned world. Since it will not receive the love of the truth, God has sent men a strong delusion, to make them believe a lie (2 Thessalonians 2:11). We live in a world of deceitful tongues, especially in what relates to God’s spiritual realities.
WHAT is more, this is a world of quarrels and conflicts, with the peace-maker at a discount. Sadly enough, the characteristics of the world here described are increasingly found in our fellowships. Many a tried saint finds himself vilified, not by outsiders but by his own companions. Many a peace-loving community is split up and divided by those who use even the holy things of God to introduce strife and division. Woe to us, if we get personally involved in such a spirit. We must move onwards and upward’s away from any such carnality.
PERHAPS the Lord permits such things to force us on to holier ground, to stir us up to move on spiritually into our true sphere of living, to what Paul calls ‘the heavenlies’. We have lived too long in the carnal realms of untrue judgments and strife. What we see in others may perhaps be true of us also. We need to be saved from ourselves. May the Lord stir us up to a new walk in truth and peace as we sing our Song of Ascents.