This morning, from Psalm 125, Lord, you encourage me. I lack an understanding of your presence, I take it for granted. Help me Lord to know more and more that you surround me; you surrounding me makes a difference in how I walk this path that you have set before me.
“Those who trust in the Lord are as secure as Mount Zion;
they will not be defeated but will endure forever.
Just as the mountains surround Jerusalem,
So the Lord surrounds his people, both now and forever.”
Lord, it sure seems that the wicked were laughing over me. They’ve beaten me down haven’t they? They do a victory dance over me, I am sure.
Yet, you tell me that I am secure, there is no defeat that comes because you surround me, protect me, and cause me to endure.
Endurance. Oh, how I need you to give me endurance! The strength to carry on, the strength to stand in the gale force winds, the strength to see you in the darkness.
For David, and the pilgrims who sang these ascent psalms repeatedly, God surrounding them was a truth that they needed to finish the journey.
Could this be the single truth that carries me as well?
God is with me, he is for me, he will not let anything overtake me.
Nothing (including pain, suffering, persecution, loneliness, heartache, grief, loss, confusion, hurt, failures, guilt, shame, fear) can separate me from the love of Christ. Nothing. Not when God surrounds me. But take notice (talking to myself), this doesn’t mean that pain, suffering, persecution, loneliness, heartache, grief, loss, confusion, hurt, failures, guilt, shame, fear are not going to part of the journey, just that they will never separate me from God!
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?” (Romans 8:35-37)
Paul’s exclamation point is what I struggle with because in the here and now, it is hard to see that it, victory, is realized…yet the truth to the question (can anything separate us?)…
“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”
Despite all these things. That means that these things are all true and real too. The calamities, pain, persecution, etc., exist and will continue to exist. The pilgrim’s life is rocky and hard.
Yet, despite all of that nothing will separate us from the love of Christ.
Funny little word, “despite.” It means that the circumstances will not affect the result that is being stated.
The love of God is undeterred. Undeterred by persecution, suffering, trials, pain, grief, fear, and things like hatred against his children.
God’s love weathers all the things that come against me. God’s love remains regardless of any hardship. In fact, his love is made more clear to me in suffering than it is when the sun is shining and days are carefree (although I cannot honestly remember what a carefree day feels like).
So Paul, in Romans 8, sums up what David repeats over and over in the psalms. God’s love doesn’t change or fluctuate. Victory is mine because of that love which he demonstrated on the cross. Paul is convinced (verse 38).
A few cross-references from Psalm 125:2…
“For the people of Israel belong to the Lord; Jacob is his special possession. He found them in a desert land, in an empty, howling wasteland. He surrounded them and watched over them; he guarded them as he would guard his own eyes.” – Deuteronomy 32:9-10
“The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you.” – Deuteronomy 33:27
“For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.” – Psalm 34:7
“Then the Lord will provide shade for Mount Zion and all who assemble there. He will provide a canopy of cloud during the day and smoke and flaming fire at night, covering the glorious land. It will be a shelter from daytime heat and a hiding place from storms and rain.” – Isaiah 4:5-6
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.” – John 10:27-29
There is gem in the next verse of Psalm 125….verse 3,
“The wicked will not rule the land of the godly, for then the godly might be tempted to do wrong.”
It seems that the reasons or the affirmations of God’s presence in verses 1 and 2 is made clear in verse 3. Foreign domination was always a burden to Israel. Always looming was the fact that other nations (ungodly) would rule and dominate God’s people.
Here David though says that the wicked will not rule the land of the godly. Is David just being optimistic? Could he be out of touch with reality?
I think David is not out of touch. I think though that God reveals to us through this verse that this scepter or rod that the wicked rule with is not final but temporary. Their rule will not rest on the godly to the extent that the godly will be tempted beyond the persevering hand that God leads with.
In other words, the test or trials would be limited to what they could endure with God’s strength so that they will not abandon their trust in the Lord.
God’s surrounding his people always brings results. Nothing thwarts him or his plans. He will carry us through. Pilgrims can take heart.
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary says it like this…
“The “scepter [a symbol of rule] of the wicked” cannot coexist with the presence of God. Israel knew that the Lord had promised never to permit the wicked to prevail over the righteous, and this promise included the promise of “the land” of Canaan. If evil were to prevail, it might be an occasion for some of the godly to be tempted, to lose heart, and to fall away. For the sake of God’s people, wickedness must come to an absolute end!”
“O Lord, do good to those who are good, whose hearts are in tune with you.” Psalm 125:4
This is my prayer. For me. For those I love. For those who are still in the fire. Lord, your “good” probably always looks different than my “good”. But it is your good that will prevail in the end and is always going to bring you glory. Forgive me for chasing after my “good” – for so often it probably has nothing to do with your glory!