Psalm 125: Maturing faith

Session 11 – Bringing sons to glory

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Psalm 125

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Psalm 125: Maturing faith (Session 11)

Maturing faith

There is much to admire about the life that Jesus demonstrated while He was on earth. Perhaps nothing is more impressive than this truth. The Bible says that Jesus "knew what was in man", so it was surely not a shock to Him when His own people gave Him up for execution.

No matter how much love and grace He showed ... when their needs weren't met, they were willing to give Him up to the worst form of punishment and death. And yet, Jesus was willing to suffer crucifixion, to provide atonement for everyone who believes in Him. It's a measure of His love, and a reflection of the heart of God.

It's remarkable that He didn't say to the Father, "Get rid of them and let's start again. We'll create a whole new race of people." But, that's Jesus. He is the Son of God.

However, there are two examples in the Bible of men who said they would be willing to be lost, for the sake of their brethren.

The first example is Moses. The LORD was so angry with Israel at Mt Sinai that He was ready to wipe them out and start again with Moses as the seed for a new generation of Israel. But Moses pleaded ... "Forgive them LORD, or blot me out of Your book ..." (see Exodus 32:32).

The Israelites in the wilderness were a great trial for Moses, but the LORD brought Moses to the place where he was willing to sacrifice himself for his own people.

And the apostle Paul said that he would be willing to give up his own salvation for the sake of his people ... the Jews.

Moses and Paul were accepted because of their faith, but they were also men who grew from a simple relationship based on belief to a deep trust in God. Faith grows. Faith is refined. Faith is tested and purified. This is what is on view in Psalm 125.

We are working our way through the Psalms of Ascent. Psalm 125 is the 6th of 15 Psalms of Ascent. It reflects the truth that we are secure in faith in Christ Jesus and, because of this acceptance, God is at work to change us and perfect us.

Psalm 125 - English & Hebrew

Here is Psalm 125 in English ... a translation closely following the Hebrew text.

(1) Song of the ascents. The (ones) trusting in the LORD are like Mount Zion, not to be moved, unto eternity it is established.

(2) Jerusalem, mountains surround her, and the LORD surrounds His people from this time and forever.

(3) Because the sceptre of wickedness will not rest upon the portion of the righteous; for the sake of the righteous He will not send injustice in their hands.

(4) Do good, LORD, to those who are good and have uprightness in their hearts.

(5)And the ones who turn to their crooked ways, the LORD will lead away with the workers of iniquity. Peace upon Israel.

Here it is, in the Hebrew: (Read in Hebrew)

Psalm 125 Verse by verse

Verse 1: (In Hebrew) ... Song of the Ascents.

If we treat all fifteen Psalms of Ascent as one, there are 101 verses in total. The verse we are looking at now is the 37th verse in the order.

"The ones trusting in the LORD are like Mt Zion, not to be moved" ... (in Hebrew). "The ones trusting in the LORD" ... (in Hebrew). There are 53 references to the LORD in all fifteen Psalms of Ascent. This reference is the 18th reference to the LORD. It is the only reference in the Psalms of Ascent which says "B'Adonai", meaning "in the LORD". Jesus is the LORD. And the New Testament tells us time and again that we who believe are "in Christ" ... "in Him".

The previous verse in the Psalms of Ascent was the last verse of Psalm 124, which said, "Our help is in the name of the LORD, Maker of heavens and earth." It's a verse that identifies the LORD as the creator of heavens and earth. Jesus is the Creator.

The verse says that our help is in His name ... the name of Jesus.

And then, in the next verse, the first verse of Psalm 125, which we have now come to, it talks about those trusting in the LORD.

The root of the Hebrew word is "BATACH" ... which means "trust, rely on". The Hebrew word for "believe" or "be faithful" is ALEF MEM NUN, and, from this root comes the word "EMUNAH" which means faithfulness. In Hebrew, there is a separate word for trust and reliance. The word on view in verse 1 is "HA'BOTCHIM" ... the root is BATACH. "HA'BOTCHIM" ... the ones trusting in the LORD.

In the Greek of the New Testament, the word for "faith" is PISTIS. The primary meaning of PISTIS is "firm persuasion". PISTIS also carries the idea of trust.

However, in Hebrew, there are two separate words for "believe" and for "trust". I think there is a progression on view ... moving from persuasion and acceptance, to reliance.

There are many symbols in the Bible where material things are pictures of spiritual matters. Silver is one, and gold is another. Silver speaks of redemption, and gold speaks of faith. There is only one word for silver in the Hebrew ... KESSEF ... because there is only one redemption that reconciles us with God. Jesus redeemed us.

In the Hebrew of the Old Testament the word for gold is ZAHAV" ... but the Old Testament also speaks of "pure gold", and "hammered gold". Gold is refined to different levels of purity, and faith is tested, and refined.

(in Hebrew) ... "the ones trusting in the LORD are like Mt Zion". (in Hebrew) ... "not to be moved". (in Hebrew) ... "unto eternity it is established".

This is the first mention of Mt Zion in the Psalms of Ascent. In Psalm 128 verse 5, and again in Psalm 134 verse 3, we learn that the LORD dwells in Mt Zion. Jesus dwells in the hearts of those who believe in Him.

The mountains of Jerusalem are real, but the mountains of Jerusalem are also symbols. The mountains of Jerusalem don't look impressive, but a day is coming when all other mountains will be laid low, and the mountain of the LORD's Temple will become the chief of all mountains.

Mt Zion is a symbol of people of faith who have matured in that faith ... and the LORD has a promise for those people. They will not be moved. They are secure, in Him, for eternity.

Verse 2: (in Hebrew) ... "Jerusalem, mountains surround her" ... (in Hebrew) ... "and the LORD surrounds His people from this time and forever." The New Testament says that we are in Jesus, and He is in us.

Verse 3: (in Hebrew) ... "Because the sceptre of wickedness will not rest upon the portion of the righteous".

Righteousness is by faith in Christ Jesus. Believers in Jesus have an inheritance in eternity. An inheritance that cannot be lost. But, one day, judgment will come upon those who have not had faith and who have walked in wickedness.

(in Hebrew) ... "for the sake of the righteous He will not send injustice in their hands". Jesus is able to direct our actions towards good, and not evil. The power of God is at work in the lives of those who have faith in Jesus. And He cleans up our lives.

Day by day we may not see what the LORD is doing, but as we look back over a year, five years, ten years, we see what He has done in our lives.

Verse 4: ... (in Hebrew) ... "Do good LORD to those who are good" ... (in Hebrew) ... "and have uprightness in their hearts".

Faith is not fatalism. In this verse there is an appeal for the LORD to do good for those who are behaving with the goodness that comes from a changed heart.

Verse 5: (in Hebrew) ... "and the ones who turn to their crooked ways the LORD will lead away with the workers of iniquity".

And the final phrase: (in Hebrew) ... "Peace upon Israel".

When the LORD has taken out those who have no faith in Jesus, then peace will come upon Israel. And, I dare say, peace will come to the earth.

Go now to the next session: Psalm 126 - the LORD is to do "the great thing".