Attention!
Tired of seeing ads while studying? Now you can enjoy an "Ads Free" version of the site for as little as 10¢ a day and support a great cause!
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Psalms 120

Verses 1-2

1. God’s deliverance from liars 120:1-2

The psalmist testified that he had prayed to God for deliverance from liars and that God had granted his request.

"After over fifty years of ministry, I am convinced that most of the problems in families and churches are caused by professed Christians who do not have a real and vital relationship to Jesus Christ. They are not humble peacemakers but arrogant troublemakers." [Note: Wiersbe, The . . . Wisdom . . ., p. 335.]

Verses 1-7

Psalms 120

Psalms 120-134 are all "songs of ascent." This group, in turn, constitutes the major part of the Great Hallel psalms (Psalms 120-136). The psalms of ascent received this title because the pilgrim Israelites sang them as they traveled from their homes all over the land and ascended Mt. Zion for the annual feasts. David composed at least four of these 15 psalms (Psalms 122, 124, 131, , 133). Solomon wrote one (Psalms 127), and the remaining 10 are anonymous. They may not have been composed for use by pilgrims, originally; they were probably written for other purposes. However, the pilgrims used them as songs of ascent and, according to the Mishnah, during the second temple period they were incorporated into the temple liturgy. [Note: Middoth 2:5.]

One scholar saw these psalms as falling into three groups of five psalms each (120-24; 125-29; 130-34). He noted that the central psalm in each group reflects royal or Zion theology: 122 (Jerusalem), 127 (the temple), and 132 (David). The effect of the total collection, therefore, is to focus on the temple and the Davidic monarchy. [Note: Erich Zenger, "The Composition and Theology of the Fifth Book of Psalms: Psalms 107-145," Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 80 (1998):92., proposed a different division that recognizes Psalms 127 as the central psalm surrounded by four groups of psalms (120-23; 124-26; 128-31; and 132-34) each of which contains the divine name 12 times.] E. W. Hengstenberg proposed a different division that recognizes Psalms 127 as the central psalm surrounded by four groups of psalms (120-23; 124-26; 128-31; and 132-34) each of which contains the divine name 12 times. [Note: E. W. Hengstenberg, Commentary on the Psalms , 3:409.]

In Psalms 120, an unknown composer asked God for protection from people who wanted to stir up war (cf. Psalms 42). This psalm has been called an individual lament that anticipates thanksgiving. [Note: Leslie C. Allen, Psalms 101-150, pp. 147-48.]

"Apart from the last clause in Psalms 120:1, there is not a glad note in the whole of Psalms 120." [Note: Armerding, p. 134.]

Verses 3-4

2. God’s destruction of liars 120:3-4

The writer asked the liar what would befall him and then answered his own question. God would destroy him as a warrior who shot arrows at an enemy or as a fire devoured a dry broom tree.

Verses 5-7

3. God’s dalliance with liars 120:5-7

The poet bewailed the fact that he had to continue living with people such as liars who continually stir up strife (Psalms 120:5-6). Meshech was a barbarous nation far to the north of Israel by the Black Sea in Asia Minor (cf. Genesis 10:2; Ezekiel 38:2; Ezekiel 39:1-2). Kedar in northern Arabia was the home of the nomadic Ishmaelites who periodically harassed the Israelites (Genesis 25:13; Isaiah 21:16-17; Jeremiah 2:10; Ezekiel 27:21). These people represented the kinds of individuals that surrounded the writer, namely, heathen liars and hostile barbarians. They seemed to be after war all the time, but he wanted to live in peace.

"If the ’I’ of the psalm is Israel personified, these two names will summarize the Gentile world, far and near, in which Israel is dispersed. Otherwise, unless the text is emended, they must be taken as the psalmist’s figurative names for the alien company he is in: as foreign as the remotest peoples, and as implacable as his Arab kinsmen (cf. Genesis 16:12; Genesis 25:13)." [Note: Kidner, Psalms 73-150, p. 431.]

The continual antagonism of people who stir up trouble by telling lies, and in other ways, leads the godly to pray for God to deal with them. God’s will is for people to live peacefully with one another (Matthew 5:9; 2 Corinthians 13:11, et al.).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 120". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/psalms-120.html. 2012.