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Tuesday, May 28th, 2024
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 120

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-7

Psalms 120

The Distress Psalm

This Is the first of the fifteen successive songs of degrees of ascendancy. They were sung as the people of Israel ascended to Zion or Jerusalem on pilgrimages for annual and periodic feasts and special worship days.

Verse 1 relates Israel’s cry to the Lord in her captivity distress in Babylon, and that He heard her prayer of faith and had delivered her, a basis for further prayers of faith, as related, Daniel ch. 9; James 1:6.

Verse 2 recounts the psalmist’s cry for the Lord to deliver his soul from "lying lips and a deceitful tongue;" This seems to refer to the Samaritans, who by lying slander, attempted to destroy Israel’s national life or soul by preventing the erection of their temple as a religious and political center for their theocratic nation, Psalms 119:69; Psalms 31:18.

Verse 3 addresses the "lying slanderers," "what shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue?" The idea is, you do not think you can escape "reaping what you sow," or escape your "sins finding you out," do you? 1 Samuel 3:17. They, their slanders, will return to their own judgments, Galatians 6:7-8.

Verse 4 answers the "what" retribution implication of v. 4. Lying of the slanderous tongue will bring "sharp arrows of the mighty," meaning of the king, Psalms 45:5. The anointed king of Israel and of God going forth to war against the foes is here pictured as related, Deuteronomy 32:42. This refers to special retribution from God that would strike the enemies of Israel, to burn like coals from a juniper fire, the best wood fuel in all Israel, Psalms 19:12-13; and pierce like sharp arrows, Psalms 140:10.

Verse 5 laments a woe on the psalmist and his people Israel as they "sojourn in Meshech, and dwelt in tents of Kedar!" A figurative expression meaning ’among lawless and fierce people like those of Mesech or Kedar, as explained v. 6. Mesech was the chief vassal of God, an ideal representative of the barbarian world. While the Kedarenes loved strife, like their Arab father, Ishmael, about whom the angel witnessed. "He will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him," Genesis 16:12.

Verse 6 states "my soul (life) hath long, too long, dwelt with him that (continually) hates peace," the lying slanderers. It expresses weariness of a long trial of continuing sorrow, v. 25.

Verse 7 declares "1 am for peace (a person of peace): But when I speak, they are for war," for my very nature is to love peace, Psalms 109:4. Yet, when he spoke to recommend peace, his enemies wrested or twisted his words to make them an occasion for war or conflict, v.2.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Psalms 120". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/psalms-120.html. 1985.
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