Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Psalm 125 moves between two visions of Jerusalem: one is the city destroyed by the Babylonians; the other is Jerusalem, the city of God–permanent, secure, protected.
I think the poet navigates these two conflicting pictures by focusing on Mount Zion, the rather small mountain on which Jerusalem is perched. Unlike the city, the mountain is settled, unshakeable. It becomes a picture of God’s faithful people, who are also settled and unshakeable in his protection. Like the mountains surrounding Mount Zion, the Lord arranges himself around his people to protect them.
The poet’s choice of images is instructive. We too want a secure city, a reliable world free of chaos and destruction. But we live in Jerusalem, the city of human culture and civilization, subject to devastation, disease, and decay. So we turn our eyes from the failing city of man to Mount Zion, God’s dwelling place. The earth below, the skies above, and the mountains around are enduring signs of God’s care and protection.
Our father, on vacation in the Rockies, I saw mountains surrounded by mountains, and mountains beyond mountains. You surround your people like mountains–beautiful, breath-taking, permanent.
And yet, like the city of Jerusalem, our lives keep changing. We live in a pandemic that reorders society, the smoke of wildfires invades our cities, social order fragments, morality declines. Our bodies turn to dust.
We say with the hymn writer,
Change and decay in all around I see,
O Thou who changest not, abide with me. (Henry Francis Lyte. Abide with Me, 1847).
With the poet we pray,
May the rod of wickedness not rest
on the portion of the righteous (v. 3a).
Do good to those who are good,
to those who are upright in heart (v. 4).
Yes, Lord, deliver us from evil. In our lives and in our world, replace the rule of wickedness with your reign of righteousness. Bring your kingdom to our churches, our cities, our world. Renew us with hope, revive us with life, do good to those who are good.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.
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