Psalm 120

We begin here a collection of 15 psalms, each referred to as a Song of Ascents. That term refers to any pilgrimage to the one and only high place for Israel, Zion. This brings the image of puring oneself, refreshing one’s faith in the Covenant, so as to present a purified life to God in the Temple. These psalms were a hymnbook of those traveling to the Holy City for various ritual celebrations.

Our psalmist first establishes that Jehovah is always paying attention to those who love Him. He does not ignore their distress call. In this particular case, he cries out for deliverance from liars.

Some people are such notorious deceivers that it justifies characterizing them as one big snaking tongue. The psalmist asks what would be the proper recompense for people like that. The answer of course is that the fiery darts of deception always come home to roost in literal arrows and torches, the image of destruction.

With so many liars around him, the psalmist feels like he lives in Meschech, a notoriously obnoxious people that lived in the mountainous terrain in the eastern half of modern Turkey. Then again, it’s like living among the raiders of Kedar, Bedouins living in the Arabian deserts south of Damascus. These were barbaric nations that produced almost nothing of value, but spent most of their energy fighting with their neighbors. Such people had no concept of God’s blessings under the Covenant shalom of divine provision.