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Psalms 124-127

Thursday Evening Bible Study

April 27, 2017


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die?  Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Target 3300 words   Video = 75 wpm

Video: Psalms Intro

The English word psalm comes from a Greek word that means “a poem sung to musical accompaniment”, or in particular, “stringed instruments”.

The Hebrew name is tehillim, which means “praises.”

The book of Psalms is the hymnbook of God’s people.

It’s also the “Him” book as well. It’s all about Jesus.

The writer of Hebrews quotes from Psalm 40:8 when he writes,

(Hebrews 10:7 NKJV) Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come— In the volume of the book it is written of Me— To do Your will, O God.’ ”
The author was talking about Jesus.
We’re going to see a lot of Jesus in the Psalms.

Soul Music

Music touches the soul. It’s “soulish” in nature. It touches the emotions.

We’re going to find every kind of emotion possible expressed in the Psalms.

For every sigh there is a Psalm.

For most of us, this is what makes the Psalms so wonderful. We can identify. We can relate.
If we were honest, even darkest most depressing Psalms describe the very things we go through day by day.

It is my prayer that as we continue on this journey through the Psalms, we won’t just look at these songs academically, with our mind, but that we may also grow as worshippers.

We are now in a group of fifteen Psalms (Ps. 120-134) known as the “Songs of Ascents”

Some have suggested that the title has to do with the music, that perhaps the melody for these songs were sung on higher notes.

Others have suggested that the fifteen songs are related to the fifteen steps in the Temple that a person would climb as they are going from the outer courts to the inner courts.

The problem with this is that some of these songs were written by David, and would have been written before the Temple was built.

Most scholars think that these were the songs of pilgrims. Three times a year the Israelites were to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

They are songs of “ascents” because to get from Jericho to Jerusalem, you go “up” the hill.

For the most part the songs are short, just the kind of song you’d like to sing as you are breathing hard from making your way up a hill.

Psalm 124 On Our Side

: A Song of Ascents. Of David.

:1 “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 swallowed us alive, When their wrath was kindled against us;

:4 Then the waters would have overwhelmed us, The stream would have gone over our soul;

:5 Then the swollen waters Would have gone over our soul.”

:4 the waters would have overwhelmed us

We mentioned before that at the end of the Tribulation the Jews will be returning from a time of great persecution. Here’s something that they’ll have been rescued from:

(Revelation 12:14–17 NKJV) —14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. 15 So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. 16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
This takes place during the Tribulation period. God saves Israel from the “flood”, the attack of the antichrist, like the “proud waters” in Ps. 124:5.

God is on Israel’s side. He will rescue them from the antichrist. Some of the wilderness places Israel will be hiding in will be places like Petra, and also a place known as Bozrah (both in modern Jordan).

(Isaiah 63:1–4 NKJV) —1 Who is this who comes from Edom, With dyed garments from Bozrah, This One who is glorious in His apparel, Traveling in the greatness of His strength?— “I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” 2 Why is Your apparel red, And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? 3 “I have trodden the winepress alone, And from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, And trampled them in My fury; Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, And I have stained all My robes. 4 For the day of vengeance is in My heart, And the year of My redeemed has come.
He alone will deliver them.

What will these Jews do after Jesus rescues them from the antichrist?

They will return to Jerusalem.
(Isaiah 51:11 NKJV) So the ransomed of the Lord shall return, And come to Zion with singing, With everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness; Sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Can you imagine the singing of the Jews as they’ve been rescued from the antichrist, making their way up to Jerusalem, singing this song, “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side …”

:6 Blessed be the Lord, Who has not given us as prey to their teeth.

:7 Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; The snare is broken, and we have escaped.

:8 Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.

:1 the Lord who was on our side


He’s on your side

You may feel at times that everyone is against you, but God is not against you. He’s on your side.
We can do much greater things when we realize that God is on our side.
David faced Goliath. A small young man faced huge experienced warrior. Goliath had all sorts of weapons, David had a five smooth stones and the help of his God.
(1 Samuel 17:45 NKJV) Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
Gideon faced 150,000 Midianites with only 300 men.
God didn’t want Gideon to have more men because God wanted Gideon to see that when God is on your side, you have more than enough.
When Xerxes invaded Greece, he came with an army of 2.6 million men. He started in the north in Macedonia. The southern Greek states needed time to build up an army to face Xerxes. King Leonides came with his 300 men of Sparta and held off the Persian army at mountain pass called Thermopylae long enough for Greece to get ready for the attack.
Video: 300 – This is where we fight
Charles Spurgeon writes,
When the Spartans marched into battle they advanced with cheerful songs, willing to fight. But when the Persians entered the conflict, you could hear, as the regiments came on, the crack of the whips by which the officers drove the cowards to the fray. You need not wonder that a few Spartans were more than a match for thousands of Persians, that in fact they were like lions in the midst of sheep. So let it be with the church. Never should she need to be forced to reluctant action, but full of irrepressible life, she should long for conflict against everything which is contrary to God. If we were enthusiastic soldiers of the cross we would be like lions in the midst of herds of enemies, and through God's help nothing would be able to stand against us.
God is for us.
(Romans 8:31 NKJV) What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Just as the Jews will be singing this song as they return to Jerusalem after the defeat of the antichrist, I think that maybe this is a song we should think about singing each time we come to church.
Do you realize that God is on your side all week?
Do you realize that He knows what He’s doing?

Psalm 125  Mountains

: A Song of Ascents.

Again, these songs are the ones sung by the pilgrims as they make their way to Jerusalem.

One of the typical ways to get to Jerusalem is by travelling through the Jordan River Valley, and at Jericho you begin the ascent into the hills to Jerusalem.

Over the next fifteen miles you ascend from 800 feet below sea level to 2500 feet above sea level.  That’s a 3300-foot climb.
What you pass through on the way is wilderness and hills.

Video:  Bus Ride Ascending to Jerusalem

The song in the background is from Psalm 121, one of the songs of ascents.

:1 Those who trust in the Lord Are like Mount Zion, Which cannot be moved, but abides forever.

:2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, So the Lord surrounds His people From this time forth and forever.

:2 the Lord surrounds His people



The people making the trip up to Jerusalem would be very aware of the hills and mountains that they will have to pass through as they make their way to the Holy City.
Mount Zion is not a lone mountain peak. It’s part of a ridge of hills that runs North and South in Israel.
It is surrounded by other mountains.
Whether it’s walking through New York city surrounded by huge skyscrapers, walking through Zion National Park, or walking through Yosemite Valley, there are times when you are faced with the fact that you are indeed quite small, and there are things much bigger than you are.
The biggest one of them all is God.
(Isaiah 40:12 NKJV) Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, Measured heaven with a span And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Weighed the mountains in scales And the hills in a balance?
It’s a good thing to realize how big God is, how small you are, and the fact that God is on your side.
When King Asa was faced with an army three times the size of his, he prayed like this:
(2 Chronicles 14:11 NKJV) And Asa cried out to the Lord his God, and said, “Lord, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!”
When Jehoshaphat was facing three invading armies, he prayed…
(2 Chronicles 20:12 NKJV) O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”
We may think that the times we are weak are the worst times in life, yet they are opportunities for us to realize the great truth – that God works for, in, and through weak people.
Isaiah wrote,

(Isaiah 40:29 NKJV) He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength.

Paul wrote,

(2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV) And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Be careful of thinking that God only works on behalf of strong people, or that God only works on behalf of good people.
God cares for the weak.
He has grace for sinners.

Be careful of thinking that you no longer need God’s grace or forgiveness in your life, or you may fall into the trap of condemnation thinking you are no longer good enough for God’s love.

You’ve never been “good enough” for God’s love.

You and I will continue to sin and continue to need God’s forgiveness for the rest of our lives because we are weak.

:3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest On the land allotted to the righteous, Lest the righteous reach out their hands to iniquity.

:4 Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, And to those who are upright in their hearts.

:5 As for such as turn aside to their crooked ways, The Lord shall lead them away With the workers of iniquity. Peace be upon Israel!

:3 the scepter of wickedness

In the future, this will be a promise the Jews will cling to, that the antichrist will not be a permanent ruler over their land.

:3 Lest the righteous reach out their hands to iniquity

God promises that the rule of the wicked will not last forever because God doesn’t want the righteous to start going over to the “dark side”.


God knows your limits

Going For The Juggler
A juggler, driving to his next performance, is stopped by the police. “What are these matches and lighter fluid doing in your car?” asks the cop. “I’m a juggler and I juggle flaming torches in my act.” “Oh yeah?” says the doubtful cop. “Lets see you do it.” The juggler gets out and starts juggling the blazing torches masterfully. A couple driving by slows down to watch. “Wow,” says the driver to his wife. “I’m glad I quit drinking. Look at the test they’re giving now!

We might think that God’s tests are all TOO hard.  They’re not.

Paul put it this way:
(1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV) No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

We give in to temptations because we don’t think we can fight it.

God seems to think that we can.

Sometimes we are correct in thinking that we can’t handle it, but it’s at those times when we need to learn that God can handle it.

If I learn to turn to God, I will be able to succeed.

Even in the trials of difficulties, I may feel crushed and defeated, but sometimes that’s only so I will learn to trust God in my weakness.

It was due to the efforts of Samuel Plimsoll (1824-98), British reformer, that the Merchant Shipping Act of 1876 was passed, requiring all ships to bear a mark known as the Plimsoll mark and indicating the maximum load line. By this act the Board of Trade of England was empowered to detain any vessel deemed unsafe, and the amount of cargo was restricted, thus making the long and perilous ocean voyage of those days much safer. Because of his work, Plimsoll became known as the sailor’s friend. The Plimsoll mark, with its gradations and figures, may be seen on the bow of ships near the water line as they lie at anchor in a harbor.
In God’s sight, each of us has a similar mark, though we may not be able to see it. The burdens and responsibilities He gives us may seem unbearable, but He knows our limit.

-- William Austin, 1967 Pastor's Annual (Zondervan, 1967), p. 234.






As the mountains are around

   A  Bm



The Lord is all around

    F#m  Bm

His people       (2x)


         A         Bm

And from this time forth

       A   Bm

And forevermore

    Em                     F#m  Bm

The Lord is all around His people

         A         Bm

And from this time forth

         A      Bm

It shall always be

    Em                     F#m  Bm

The Lord is all around His people



As mount Zion stands

      A  Bm

By Jerusalem


We shall not be moved

         F#m    Bm

We shall not be moved    (2x)



Jerusalem / Author Unknown / © Unknown / Jerusalm.doc



Psalm 126 Sowing Seed

: A Song of Ascents.

:1 When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, We were like those who dream.

:1 the Lord brought back the captivity

Some have suggested that Psalm 126 was written by King Hezekiah after Jerusalem was delivered from the Assyrians.

Some translations carry the idea that it’s about Jerusalem’s fortunes being turned around.
(Psalm 126:1 ESV) When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.

It’s also possible that it was written after the captivity in Babylon.

Some translations carry the idea that it’s about captives returning to Jerusalem.
(Psalm 126:1 NLT) When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream!

This may have a prophetic nature, when the antichrist is conquered and the Jews return to Jerusalem.

:2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, And our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”

:3 The Lord has done great things for us, And we are glad.

:4 Bring back our captivity, O Lord, As the streams in the South.

:4 As the streams in the South

Southnegeb – south-country, Negev, south

In the Greek translation known as the Septuagint, several times this word is translated as eremon, or, “desert”.

The “southern” part of Israel is desert area, known as the “Negev”. In the dry season the desert has stream beds that have little or no water. When the rainy season hits, these dry creek beds overflow with water. The prayer is for the captives to return like one of these “flash floods”.

One of our favorite devotionals is “Streams in the Desert”. 

I get it daily in an email. You can subscribe for free here.
The overall theme of the book is that life is like a desert, and we need those occasional “streams” to refresh us and keep us going.
The principle in our Psalm is one of those “streams” to refresh us.
It’s title actually comes from:
(Isaiah 35:6 NKJV) Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert.

Our phrase here in Psalms is very similar.

Isaiah 35 is a picture of the kingdom after Jesus returns.  It goes on to say,
(Isaiah 35:10 NKJV) And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, And come to Zion with singing, With everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, And sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Reminds me of the Psalms of Ascent which the returning captives will sing as they approach Jerusalem.

:5 Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy.

:6 He who continually goes forth weeping, Bearing seed for sowing, Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, Bringing his sheaves with him.

:6 seed … sowing … sheaves

There is an agricultural picture being painted here.

Sowing seeds is how you plant your field.

When you harvest your crop of wheat, you bundle up the “sheaves”, the bundles of grain, then you thresh the wheat to end up with the kernels of wheat which are ground into flour.

:5 sow in tears … reap in joy


Keep going

The writer is not saying we need to sow the seed of tears to reap a harvest of joy.
He’s saying that we need to keep doing our job of sowing seed, even if we do it in tears.
We won’t ever reap a harvest if we stop what we’re supposed to be doing because of tears.
If you’ve planted your seed, then you will one day reap a harvest, and that’s a joyful time.
There’s an old hymn based on this Psalm, “Bringing in the Sheaves”
“Bringing in the Sheaves”

Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves,
Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves,

(3rd verse) Going forth with weeping, sowing for the Master,
Though the loss sustained our spirit often grieves;
When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Paul wrote,
(Galatians 6:7–9 NKJV) —7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
Here’s a man sitting on his porch in Kentucky. He’s only recently retired from the post office, and he’s sitting there when his first Social Security check is delivered. He’s very, very discouraged. He thinks to himself, “Is this what life is going to be from now on—sitting on the porch waiting for my check to arrive?”
He decided he wouldn’t settle for that, and so he made a list of all of the things he had going for him, all the blessings and the capacities, the unique things that were in him. The list was long because he listed everything he could think of and in the list was the fact that he was the only person on earth who knew his mother’s recipe for fried chicken. It used eleven different herbs and spices.
So he went to a nearby restaurant and asked if he could cook the chicken, and they said yes. It soon became the most popular item on the menu. So he opened his own restaurant, and then others, and a string of restaurants. Eventually Harland Sanders sold the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise across all of America.
He finally retired a second time (all this happened, you remember, after he had retired from the postal service), and he continued in the service of the company as a public relations representative for a quarter of a million dollars a year till his death. Now here was a man who did not allow himself to be defeated by discouragement. He took a look at it recognized it was there, but then went on to look at what he had with which to deal with it and used that.

-- Bruce Thielemann, "Dealing with Discouragement," Preaching Today, Tape No. 48.

Psalm 127 Where God works

: A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.

It could be that this song was written for Solomon by David.

It could be that it was written by Solomon himself.

:1 Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.

:1 Unless the Lord builds the house


Working with God

He doesn’t say, “Unless God wants the house built” but “unless God builds the house”
He doesn’t say, “Unless God wants the city guarded, but “unless the LORD guards the city”

It’s not just finding out what God wants, but what God is doing and where God is doing it.

The 80/20 Principle.
There’s a book out that deals with increasing a person or company’s productivity. The theory is that twenty percent of your time produces eighty percent of your results. Twenty percent of the people do eighty percent of the work. Twenty percent of your clients produce eighty percent of your income.
You would produce more if you could isolate that “twenty percent” and cultivate the twenty percent. You could get more done by working on less stuff.
In the same way, I wonder if we could get a whole lot more accomplished for God if we spent more time finding not just the things God is interested in, but the things where God is already at work in.
Sometimes we have this backward.
We have our plans and ideas, and as we start to work on them we pray, “God will you bless this, because unless the Lord builds…”
Perhaps we ought to be praying, “Show me Lord where you are already at work”.
Jesus said,
(John 15:5 NKJV) “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

The key to bearing fruit is being connected to the Vine.

:2 It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late, To eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep.

:2 He gives His beloved sleep

This doesn’t mean that there won’t be times when you pull an “all-nighter”.

If you’re doing the things that God wants you to do, there may be times when you stay up all night. Several times Jesus stayed up all night praying.
But if you’re not doing the things that God wants you to do, no amount of worrying or sleeplessness is going to get you what you want.

Not only can God give us “rest”, He will even keep working while we sleep.

(NAS) For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.

:3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward.

:4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth.

:5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

Happy‘esher – happiness, blessedness

:5 his quiver full of them

Over the years I’ve heard people make references as to how many arrows would fit into a quiver.

I’ve heard there were thirteen arrows in a quiver.
I’ve also heard that some quivers hold four, while others hold 24.
It all depends on how big your quiver is.

The point is not how many children you need to have to be blessed, but that your capacity to parent has been maximized.

:3 children are a heritage from the Lord

This might have seemed like a complete change of subject from God “building a house” to having kids, but it’s not.

In Hebrew, the word “son” (ben, translated here “children”), “daughter” (bath), and “house” (beth) all come from the same root word “to build” (banah). Children are how a family is built.  They are how your house is built.



For those of you with kids, the treasure God wants you to value is in your kids.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your kids are some kind of burden you’re stuck with.
They’re your treasure.
Video:  Cheerios – How to Dad
For some of you, it’s your spouse you need to treasure.
Video:  Tim Hawkins – Multitasking
All of us need to treasure God’s family, the saints of God around you. Paul prays that,
(Ephesians 1:18 NKJV) the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
God’s treasure, His “inheritance” is in thne saints – the people sitting next to you.
Some people at church might not be the most handsome. Others might not be the smartest. Others may lack in social skills. Still others can be downright mean at times.

Yet each one is a treasure to God. They are His inheritance.


Video:  Keith Green – Unless The Lord Builds The House