Ep.253: Psalm 120: Song of the Homeless.

Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.

Psalm 120 is the first of 15 psalms, which each carry the title, “A Song of Ascents”. It is not clear whether these were songs for pilgrims ascending the road to Jerusalem, or whether it is a musical term, perhaps suggesting a crescendo. 

In Psalm 120, the poet has been the victim of vicious slander and reputational assassination. He says,
      Lord, save my life from lying lips,
        from tongues of deceit (v. 2). 

Then he laments,
    Woe is me that I am an alien in Meshech,
      that I live among the tents of Kedar! (v. 5). 

Meshech was probably in present-day Turkey, and Kedar probably far south-east in Arabia. While it’s doubtful the poet travelled to those distant places, maybe he’s telling us that slanderers and deceivers made him feel like an alien, an outcast in his home country. Hence, he raises his pitiful cry to God:
  Too long have I lived
    among those who hate peace.
  I am for peace,
    but when I speak, they are for war (vv 6-7). 

Those who love violence and make a living by it are unsympathetic to his call for peace. The world that made him feel homeless was a world fascinated by and addicted to violence. 

Let’s pray. 

Our father, with the poet we pray,
    Save us from lying lips
      and deceitful tongues (v. 2). 

Where can we find the truth? The media is awash with pandemic deniers and anti-vaxxers. Conspiracy theories abound. Politicians obfuscate, corporations spin. O Lord, lead us to truth. To truth in science, truth in society,  truth in relationships, truth about how to grow healthy and wise. Lead us to truth in our hearts, for our hearts have led us astray, into futile attempts to justify ourselves, to exonerate our motives and defend our actions. Help us live in the light of your truth, letting it burn out the deceits we cling to.   

O Lord, help us understand and resist the spirit of our age: a spirit which polarizes people about politics and morals and race and religion. Help us understand when to defend the truth we know, when to change our opinion, and when to be at peace with ambiguity.   

With the poet, we say:
    Woe is me that I am an alien in Meshech,
      that I live among the tents of Kedar! (v. 5).    
Too long have I lived
      among those who hate peace (v. 6). 

This world is our home, the garden you gave us to tend, but some days we feel like strangers in our own country. We want to live in peace, but many oppose our vision, preferring the pursuit of violence and power. 

Help us build communities of peace, churches of caring, societies of love. Show us the path that leads through our violent world to security and hope. 


I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.

YouTube channel: Pray with Me – YouTube