Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Ascent Psalms

Psalm 120 - 134 were songs of ascent. 4 attributed to David, 1 to Solomon, 10 anonymous.

Tradition says these were sung as the the people went UP  (a)  to Jerusalem  (pilgrimages (at least 3 per year were required), feast days
(b)  to the Temple  atop a hill)
(c)  the 15 steps - between the court of women and the court of Israel

Are 15 Ascent psalms.  Tradition said that the men sang an ascent song on each step upward.

Psm. 122:1-5

Whatever the usage, the point was UP!!   ie:  UP toward God and UP toward God's throne.
Israel knew God as Omnipresent, however the temple was His "house", the ark was His "throne".

Compare to Christians and church.  Yes, we can worship God in any setting on any day, but there is something special about coming to God's house on God's day with God's people.

Are no laments, no complaints in the Ascent Psalms.

The Themes (within the ascent psalms) Vary - examples:  Were not ALL about going UP to His presence.

#1.  prayers for assistance - Psm. 121:1-8, 123:1-4

#2.  recognition of God's Provision - Psm. 124:1-8

#3.  Confidence in God - Psm. 131:1-3, 125:1-2

#4.  Certainty of God's blessings  (on His people) - Psm. 128:1-6  - they are absolutely certain God will bless.

#5.  Certainty of God's forgiveness.  Psm. 130:1-8

#6.  prayers for Jerusalem (Zion)  Psm. 122:6-9  - capital city, center of the faith.  The way Jerusalem goes, so goes the nation.

Beyond the Themes --- you find the Attitudes that underlie these 15 songs.

As they approach, they display an attitude of:

(1)  Reverence - deep respect, high regard, which leads to awe and wonder in light of God's majesty, sovereignty, might, power - (His will will be done!)   coupled with His faithfulness, mercy, compassion, provision.  That a being that awesome cares for us, forgives us our sins.

(2)  Praise which = when adoration spills out  (overflows)  (something we can detect)

(3)  Special combination of:  
Humility  (because He = God and I = ??)  plus
Confidence (because we are invited  - He's not going to strike me down, disown me.  And
 Expectation - Heb. 4:16 - confidence, not arrogance.  Expect to get an answer to prayer.  However, may NOT be the answer we want.

They approach with:
(4).  JOY at the opportunity and privilege of being
           (a) in God's presence,  (b) at God's temple  (c)  with God's people
Ascent Psalms = ALL HOPEFUL!!  No laments here!)

(5)  Unity - fellowship, camaraderie, brotherhood - Psm. 133:1-3
On one hand, each person approaches God as individual,
However, they come as a PEOPLE
Eph. 4:2-6

Their approach is not so different from ours!  However, we have revelation and understanding that they didn't have.  Rom. 5:1-2  Everyone now has access to God through Jesus Christ.  John 14:6
Only barrier we have to this access is US!!

So learn from their approach to God, but don't omit the Vital step in the Approach!! - must come through Jesus Christ.

John 6:37

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