120 In my trouble I cried to the Lord, And He answered me. 2 Rescue my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, And from a deceitful tongue. 3 What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you, You deceitful tongue?— 4 Sharp arrows of the warrior, With the [b]burning coals of the broom tree.
5 Woe to me, for I sojourn in Meshech, and I live among the tents of Kedar [among hostile people]! 6 Too long my soul has had its dwelling With those who hate peace. 7 I am for peace, but when I speak, They are for war.
121 I will lift up my eyes to the hills [of Jerusalem]— From where shall my help come? 2 My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. 3 He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber [briefly] nor sleep [soundly].
5 The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade on your right hand. 6 The sun will not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your life. 8 The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in [everything that you do] From this time forth and forever.
122 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” 2 Our feet are standing Within your gates, O Jerusalem, 3 Jerusalem, that is built As a city that is firmly joined together; 4 To which the [twelve] tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord, [As was decreed as] an ordinance for Israel, To give thanks to the name of the Lord. 5 For there the thrones of judgment were set, The thrones of the house of David.
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you [holy city]. 7 “May peace be within your walls And prosperity within your palaces.” 8 For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, “May peace be within you.” 9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God [which is Jerusalem], I will seek your (the city’s) good.
123 Unto you I lift up my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens! 2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, And as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the Lord our God, Until He is gracious and favorable toward us.
3 Be gracious to us, O Lord, be gracious and favorable toward us, For we are greatly filled with contempt. 4 Our soul is greatly filled With the scoffing of those who are at ease, And with the contempt of the proud [who disregard God’s law].
124 “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,” Let Israel now say, 2 “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side When men rose up against us, 3 Then they would have [quickly] swallowed us alive, When their wrath was kindled against us; 4 Then the waters would have engulfed us, The torrent would have swept over our soul; 5 Then the [g]raging waters would have swept over our soul.”
6 Blessed be the Lord, Who has not given us as prey to be torn by their teeth. 7 We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; The trap is broken and we have escaped. 8 Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.
125 Those who trust in and rely on the Lord [with confident expectation] Are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but remains forever. 2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, So the Lord surrounds His people From this time forth and forever. 3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land of the righteous, So that the righteous will not reach out their hands to do wrong.
4 Do good, O Lord, to those who are good And to those who are upright in their hearts. 5 But as for those who turn aside to their crooked ways [in unresponsiveness to God], The Lord will lead them away with those who do evil. Peace be upon Israel.
126 When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion (Jerusalem), We were like those who dream [it seemed so unreal]. 2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter And our tongue with joyful shouting; Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” 3 The Lord has done great things for us; We are glad!
4 Restore our [j]captivity, O Lord, As the stream-beds in the South (the Negev) [are restored by torrents of rain]. 5 They who sow in tears shall reap with joyful singing. 6 He who goes back and forth weeping, carrying his bag of seed [for planting], Will indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
127 Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain. 2 It is vain for you to rise early, To retire late, To eat the bread of anxious labors— For He gives [blessings] to His beloved even in his sleep.
3 Behold, children are a heritage and gift from the Lord, The fruit of the womb a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. 5 How blessed [happy and fortunate] is the man whose quiver is filled with them; They will not be ashamed When they speak with their enemies [in gatherings] at the [city] gate.
128 Blessed [happy and sheltered by God’s favor] is everyone who fears the Lord [and worships Him with obedience], Who walks in His ways and lives according to His commandments. 2 For you shall eat the fruit of [the labor of] your hands, You will be happy and blessed and it will be well with you. 3 Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine Within the innermost part of your house; Your children will be like olive plants Around your table. 4 Behold, for so shall the man be blessed and divinely favored Who fears the Lord [and worships Him with obedience].
5 May the Lord bless you from Zion [His holy mountain], And may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life; 6 Indeed, may you see your [family perpetuated in your] children’s children. Peace be upon Israel!
129 “Many times they have persecuted me (Israel) from my youth,” Let Israel now say, 2 “Many times they have persecuted me from my youth, Yet they have not prevailed against me. 3 “The [enemies, like] plowers plowed on my back; They made their furrows [of suffering] long [in Israel].” 4 The Lord is righteous; He has cut in two the [thick] cords of the wicked [which enslaved the people of Israel].
5 May all who hate Zion Be put to shame and turned backward [in defeat]. 6 Let them be like the grass on the housetops, Which withers before it grows up, 7 With which the reaper does not fill his hand, Nor the binder of sheaves his arms, 8 Nor do those who pass by say, “The blessing of the Lord be upon you; We bless you in the name of the Lord.”
130 Out of the [o]depths [of distress] I have cried to You, O Lord. 2 Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive To the voice of my supplications. 3 If You, Lord, should keep an account of our sins and treat us accordingly, O Lord, who could stand [before you in judgment and claim innocence]? 4 But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared and worshiped [with submissive wonder].
5 I wait [patiently] for the Lord, my soul [expectantly] waits, And in His word do I hope. 6 My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; More than the watchmen for the morning. 7 O Israel, hope in the Lord; For with the Lord there is lovingkindness, And with Him is abundant redemption. 8 And He will redeem Israel From all his sins.
131 Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me. 2 Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child [resting] with his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me [composed and freed from discontent]. 3 O Israel, hope in the Lord From this time forth and forever.
Prayer for the Lord’s Blessing Upon the Sanctuary.
132 O Lord, remember on David’s behalf All his hardship and affliction; 2 How he swore to the Lord And vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob: 3 “I absolutely will not enter my house, Nor get into my bed— 4 I certainly will not permit my eyes to sleep Nor my eyelids to slumber, 5 Until I find a place for the Lord, A dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob (Israel).”
6 Behold, we heard of it at Ephrathah; We found it in the field of Jaar. 7 Let us go into His tabernacle; Let us worship at His footstool. 8 Arise, O Lord, to Your resting place, You and the ark [the symbol] of Your strength. 9 Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness (right living), And let Your godly ones shout for joy.
10 For the sake of Your servant David, Do not turn away the face of Your anointed. 11 The Lord swore to David A truth from which He will not turn back: “One of your [r]descendants I will set upon your throne. 12 “If your children will keep My covenant And My testimony which I will teach them, Their children also shall sit upon your throne forever.”
13 For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place: 14 “This is My resting place forever” [says the Lord]; “Here will I dwell, for I have desired it. 15 “I will abundantly bless her provisions; I will satisfy her poor with bread. 16 “Her priests also I will clothe with salvation, And her godly ones will shout aloud for joy. 17 “There I will make the horn (strength) of David grow; I have prepared a lamp for My anointed [fulfilling the promises]. 18 “His enemies I will clothe with shame, But upon himself shall his crown shine.”
Psalm 120:1It is possible that the fifteen psalms (chs 120-134) known as the “Songs of Degrees or Ascents” were sung by the caravans of pilgrims going up to attend the annual feasts at Jerusalem. But it is equally possible that the title has reference to some peculiarity in connection with the music or the manner of using it.
Psalm 120:4The ancient rabbis explained that coals from a broom tree are unusual in that they continue burning on the inside even after they are extinguished on the outside. They compared this to a person who listens to slander: even if you try to persuade him otherwise and he seems to be convinced, he is still “burning” on the inside, i.e. still unconvinced.
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