Praying the Pilgrim Songs: Psalm 120:3-4

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Psalm 120:3-4
What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you, You deceitful tongue? Sharp arrows of the warrior, With the burning coals of the broom tree.

 

burning coals

 
 

Lord, bring to my deceiver all You plan for him. Lord, You are my avenger. Punish him just as I have suffered through him.

Lord, the problem for me is that I often don’t recognize the foe or that he has lied to me. When there is a problem I often dismiss it and run from it or say that it is not there. But it is there Lord. My foe is real and the lie, though cloaked, is real and destructive. Lord, open my eyes—enough at least to pray. Let me see enough to know how to pray, so that the enemy will be taken down and I will be delivered. Lord, You deliver me. Be my avenger. Cast him out and let me be free of all deception, so that I will be free to see Your truth.

 

See explanatory note on Psalms 120, by Martin Girard, on an earlier post

 

Exposition by The Treasury of David

Verse 3. What shall be given unto thee? What is the expected guerdon of slander? It ought to be something great to make it worthwhile to work in so foul an atmosphere and to ruin one’s soul. Could a thousand worlds be bribe enough for such villainous deeds? The liar shall have no welcome recompense: he shall meet with his deserts; but what shall they be? What punishment can equal his crime? The Psalmist seems lost to suggest a fitting punishment. It is the worst of offences—this detraction, calumny, and slander. Judgment sharp and crushing would be measured out to it if men were visited for their transgressions. But what punishment could be heavy enough? What form shall the chastisement take? O liar, “what shall be given unto thee?”

Or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue? How shalt thou be visited? The law of retaliation can hardly meet the case, since none can slander the slanderer, he is too black to be blackened; neither would any of us blacken him if we could. Wretched being! He fights with weapons which true men cannot touch. Like the cuttlefish, he surrounds himself with an inky blackness into which honest men cannot penetrate. Like the foul skunk, he emits an odour of falsehood which cannot be endured by the true; and therefore he often escapes, unchastised by those whom he has most injured. His crime, in a certain sense, becomes his shield; men do not care to encounter so base a foe. But what will God do with lying tongues? He has uttered his most terrible threats against them, and he will terribly execute them in due time.

Verse 4. Sharp arrows of the mighty. Swift, sure, and sharp shall be the judgment. Their words were as arrows, and so shall their punishment be. God will see to it that their punishment shall be comparable to an arrow keen in itself, and driven home with all the force with which a mighty man shoots it from his bow of steel, — “sharp arrows of the mighty”. Nor shall one form of judgment suffice to avenge this complicated sin. The slanderer shall feel woes comparable to coals of juniper, which are quick in flaming, fierce in blazing, and long in burning. He shall feel sharp arrows and sharper fires. Awful doom! All liars shall have their portion in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone. Their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched. Juniper coals long retain their heat, but hell burneth ever, and the deceitful tongue may not deceive itself with the hope of escape from the fire which it has kindled. What a crime is this to which the All merciful allots a doom so dreadful! Let us hate it with perfect hatred. It is better to be the victim of slander than, to be the author of it. The shafts of calumny will miss the mark, but not so the arrows of God: the coals of malice will cool, but not the fire of justice. Shun slander as you would avoid hell.

 

 

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Easter brings Believers Great Hope

Originally posted on Studying Bible Prophecy:

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What a great day this Easter is! Christ has been resurrected. And because of His resurrection we who are believers in Him have hope, hope that we will one day be either resurrected from our grave or be brought alive to heaven and changed—without having seen death.

Now here is something I haven’t thought of before: if we are raptured we will actually witness probably thousands of people coming out of their graves and rising up to heaven; and then we will follow them to be with them. Won’t that be a wonderful, glorious sight?

1 Corinthians 15:51-53
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
For…

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Praying the Pilgrim Songs: Psalm 120:1-2

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Psalm 120:1-2

In my trouble I cried to the LORD,
And He answered me.
2 Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips,
 From a deceitful tongue.
NASB

 

Lord, whomever would lie to me and cause me trouble, man or demon, I pray, please deliver me from such a one. Keep me safe and at peace with You that I may not live in turmoil and be prone to sin against You.

 

Explanatory note on Psalms 120, by Martin Girard

[This] first song of ascents is set in alien land. The writer is a distressed individual who dwells among people who are opposed to peace. He laments: “I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war” (v. 7). He often suffered the deceitful tongue and lying lips of the wicked and prayed for deliverance from such. Falsehood is something the Lord hates (Prov. 6:17), and we need to make sure our speech is pleasing to Him. He will judge those whose words are unrestrained. Like the writer of this psalm, we may be experiencing opposition and may be longing to be somewhere better. The heavenly home should create a longing in our hearts!

 

Exposition of Psalm 120:1-2, by The Treasury of David

Verse 1. In my distress. Slander occasions distress of the most grievous kind. Those who have felt the edge of a cruel tongue know assuredly that it is sharper than the sword. Calumny rouses our indignation by a sense of injustice, and yet we find ourselves helpless to fight with the evil, or to act in our own defence. We could ward off the strokes of a cutlass, but we have no shield against a liar’s tongue. We do not know who was the father of the falsehood, nor where it was born, nor where it has gone, nor how to follow it, nor how to stay its withering influence. We are perplexed, and know not which way to turn. Like the plague of flies in Egypt, it baffles opposition, and few can stand before it. Detraction touches us in the most tender point, cuts to the quick, and leaves a venom behind which it is difficult to extract. In all ways it is a sore distress to come under the power of “slander, the foulest whelp of sin.” Even in such distress we need not hesitate to cry unto the Lord. Silence to man and prayer to God are the best cures for the evil of slander.

I cried unto the LORD (or Jehovah). The wisest course that he could follow. It is of little use to appeal to our fellows on the matter of slander, for the more we stir in it the more it spreads; it is of no avail to appeal to the honour of the slanderers, for they have none, and the most piteous demands for justice will only increase their malignity and encourage them to fresh insult. As well plead with panthers and wolves as with black hearted traducers. However, when cries to man would be our weakness, cries to God will be our strength. To whom should children cry but to their father? Does not some good come even out of that vile thing, falsehood, when it drives us to our knees and to our God? “And he heard me”. Yes, Jehovah hears. He is the living God, and hence prayer to him is reasonable and profitable. The Psalmist remembered and recorded this instance of prayer hearing, for it had evidently much affected him; and now he rehearses it for the glory of God and the good of his brethren. “The righteous cry and the Lord heareth them”. The ear of our God is not deaf, nor even heavy. He listens attentively, he catches the first accent of supplication; he makes each of his children confess, — “he heard me”. When we are slandered it is a joy that the Lord knows us, and cannot be made to doubt our uprightness: he will not hear the lie against us, but he will hear our prayer against the lie.

If these psalms were sung at the ascent of the ark to Mount Zion, and then afterwards by the pilgrims to Jerusalem at the annual festivals and at the return from Babylon, we shall find in the life of David a reason for this being made the first of them. Did not this servant of God meet with Doeg the Edomite when he enquired of the oracle by Abiathar, and did not that wretched creature believe him and betray him to Saul? This made a very painful and permanent impression upon David’s memory, and therefore in commencing the ark journey he poured out his lament before the Lord, concerning the great and monstrous wrong of “that dog of a Doeg”, as Trapp wittily calls him. The poet, like the preacher, may find it to his advantage to “begin low,” for then he has the more room to rise: the next Psalm is a full octave above the present mournful hymn. Whenever we are abused it may console us to see that we are not alone in our misery we are traversing a road upon which David left his footprints.

Verse 2. Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips. It will need divine power to save a man from these deadly instruments. Lips are soft: but when they are lying lips they suck away the life of character and are as murderous as razors. Lips should never be red with the blood of honest men’s reputes, nor salved with malicious falsehoods. David says, “Deliver my soul”: the soul, the life of the man, is endangered by lying lips; cobras are not more venomous, nor devils themselves more pitiless. Some seem to lie for lying sake, it is their sport and spirit: their lips deserve to be kissed with a hot iron; but it is not for the friends of Jesus to render to men according to their deserts. Oh for a dumb generation rather than a lying one! The faculty of speech becomes a curse when it is degraded into a mean weapon for smiting men behind their backs. We need to be delivered from slander by the Lord’s restraint upon wicked tongues, or else to be delivered out of it by having our good name cleared from the liar’s calumny.

And from a deceitful tongue This is rather worse than downright falsehood. Those who fawn and flatter, and all the while have enmity in their hearts, are horrible beings; they are the seed of the devil, and he worketh in them after his own deceptive nature. Better to meet wild beasts and serpents than deceivers: these are a kind of monster whose birth is from beneath, and whose end lies far below. It should be a warning to liars and deceivers when they see that all good men pray against them, and that even bad men are afraid of them. Here is to the believer good cause for prayer. “Deliver us from evil”, may be used with emphasis concerning this business. From gossips, talebearers, writers of anonymous letters, forgers of newspaper paragraphs, and all sorts of liars, good Lord deliver us!

 

 

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Jewish Pilgrimages: How We May Benefit From Them

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In the Old Testament times the Jews would pilgrimage to Jerusalem 3 times a year on their feast days (Deut. 16:16-17):

On the Feast of Unleavened Bread — this year on April 15

On the Feast of Weeks — this year on June 4

On the Feast of Tabernacles — this year on Oct 9

I can imagine that for many the trip was long and treacherous. But as they walked they sang songs. We have recorded for us in Psalms 120-135 the songs they sang. They are called Psalms of Ascents or Pilgrim Songs.

I have recently been quite captivated by this subject. As Martin Girard wrote in his article, Songs For Pilgrims Psalms Of Ascents, “In one sense we are like the Israelites of Old Testament times, for we are pilgrims. This earth is not our permanent home. We are “strangers and pilgrims” (1 Pet. 2:11) as we journey home to heaven, seeking “a city whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10).”

Since we are indeed pilgrims on this earth I think it would do us good to sing the Pilgrim songs as the Jews use to do. I don’t know if I will put Psalms 120-134 to song, but I am planning to memorize them. The chapters are all quite short so it shouldn’t be too hard. I invite you to do it along with me. Here is the first Song—in NASB.

Psalm 120:1

Prayer for Deliverance from the Treacherous

In my trouble I cried to the Lord, And He answered me. Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, From a deceitful tongue. What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you, You deceitful tongue? Sharp arrows of the warrior, With the burning coals of the broom tree.

Woe is me, for I sojourn in Meshech, For I dwell among the tents of Kedar! Too long has my soul had its dwelling With those who hate peace. I am for peace, but when I speak, They are for war.

 

 

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Four Benefits of Praying Outside

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I have found that when prayer is practiced outside, during a walk or while sitting in a favorite spot, the rewards of prayer seem greater. Here are four benefits of such prayer.

 

1. The fresh air of the outdoors tends to clear the mind and keep us more refreshed and alert for prayer.

2. If you have planned to pray during a walk you may find that you have much more time to pray than if you were praying inside. I suppose that is because the fresh air keeps us alert for longer prayer; also, because, if we have planned to pray all during the time we are walking, that sometimes amounts to quite a long time.

3. Outside prayer helps us to see God’s grace and handiwork in nature, and we are led both to repentance (Rom. 2:4) and praise (Rom. 1:20; Ps. 19:1).

 4. When praying outside God will often speak to us and teach us through nature; the things of nature will become His teaching tools—His flannel-graph. When we are walking by a stream, He may speak to us of the water of the Spirit, how the Spirit moves in us and satisfies us. When we see a tree by a river He may remind us of Psalms one, by which He may speak to us concerning the way of righteousness—that the righteous man is as a fruitful tree planted by the rivers of water. When we look at the grass He may teach us from James 1:10-11 about the uncertainty of riches. When we see mountains He may speak to us of the strength and majesty of God. The Bible is loaded with references to things of nature: the trees, the sun, the clouds, rain, wind, many kinds of animals and insects; hundreds of things in nature are all found in the Bible, and God may use these things to teach us about Himself and about His ways—if we will take the time to observe them and be open to His leading and teaching. Thus He will open to us the beauty of His presence, and He will take us into His house and into the beautiful inner room where He dwells.

 

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A Poem by Bonhoeffer — from the Book Bonhoeffer

Originally posted on Studying Bible Prophecy:

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Here is a poem by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, written to his friend Bethge, while on his second trip to America. As you may detect here, he was overcome with doubts about whether he should be going or not.

 
 
The beginning and the end, O Lord, are thine;
The span between, life, was mine.
I wandered in the darkness and did not discover myself;
With thee, O Lord, is clarity, and light is thy house.
A short time only, and all is done;
Then the whole struggle dies away to nothing.
Then I will refresh myself by the waters of life,
And will talk with Jesus for ever and ever.

From the book Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.

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3 Things that Will Enhance Your Prayer Times

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For some of us, or perhaps most of us, our place of prayer doesn’t seem so appealing. In fact, we don’t seem drawn to prayer at all. Most of the time, we would rather sit in front of the TV, or play a game, or eat food, anything but pray. But we really shouldn’t be surprised at this, if we haven’t had many experiences with God, and if we haven’t worked on making our prayer times better. To have quality prayer times we really need to work at it!

Here are three things we can work at that will enhance our prayer times:

1. Give thanks. When we give thanks to God we are surrendering ourselves to Him in acknowledgement that He is Lord and God, and that He has made us and has made all things (Ps. 100). Likewise, thanksgiving is simply our recognition and gratefulness for all the things that God has done for us and has given us.

Effective prayer—that is, prayer in the Spirit—is always prayer with thanksgiving. As R. A. Torrey has said, “Thanksgiving is one of the inevitable results of being filled with the Holy Spirit.”

I have found that when I am down and in need of God’s touch, when I go to God in prayer, one of the first things God does for me is to make me thankful. He gives me desires to please Him and to sing songs of thanksgiving. Why? Because He knows that thankfulness is required for true prayer (Phil. 4:6), and He wants me to pray. Thus, the Holy Spirit helps me to pray by making me thankful.

Now if you want to work on your attitude of thanksgiving you must also work on bringing the Holy Spirit more into your life.   The two go together. I would say, pray every day to be filled with the Holy Spirit; but also try every moment to be thankful. And you will soon begin to experience more of the beauty of the inner room.

2. Meditate on the Word. Meditating on the Word makes us more aware of God’s presence and tunes us into His thoughts. Says Pierson, “To meditate on God’s words introduces us to the secret chambers of God’s thoughts, and imparts insight into God’s character.”

The more we meditate on the Word the more we see the beauty of Jesus: how wonderful He is, how desirable, how sweet. In Psalms 119:103 David declared, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter that honey to my mouth!” Again in Psalms 119:14 David said, “I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches.” In Jeremiah 15:16 (a favorite of mine) Jeremiah says, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.”

By our meditation, all our surroundings become beautiful; and we find ourselves incessantly smiling—even in difficult times. Accordingly, by our constant meditation, our inner room of prayer becomes broadened and more beautiful. Everywhere we go we seem to be always full of His peace and joy—because, you see, we are always dwelling with Him in that beautiful inner room.

 3. Practice prayer. The beauty of the inner room is most experienced by those who take the time to get to know God by consistent, purposeful prayer. To those He surrounds by His presence, and is with them throughout the day wherever they go. And generally, His presence is fuller and sweeter during those times when the Word is also meditated on.

Also, according to Charles Finney, when a Christian obediently struggles and agonizes in prayer over a lost soul or over any burden God puts on him to pray over, he will find in God, after the burden is lifted, “the sweetest and most heavenly affections…” Hence, God rewards the obedient heart by the blessings of His own sweet presence (Heb. 11:6; Jn. 14:21, 23).

I have found that when prayer is practiced outside, during a walk or while sitting in a favorite spot, the rewards of prayer seem greater. In my next blog I will give you four benefits of such prayer.

This post is an excerpt from Prayer A to ZA Comprehensive Bible-Based Study of Prayer.

 

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