The Songs of Ascent, Text: Psalm 125, Title: The Lot of the Righteous

Introduction

In this last Psalm of the present triad we have now arrived in the Holy City. We are rejoicing in the Lord. We began with reverence, then came deliverance and now the theme of this Psalm  is providence. We have read the book and discovered that the author is our maker, and our maker is our deliverer, and now we see that He is our keeper. As we look at the providence of God here we see three attributes. It is powerful, it is partisan, and it is propitious.

I Powerful Providence

As the pilgrims arrive in Zion they are confronted with the power of God as symbolized by the mountains. We read in verses 1 and 2, Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore. Jerusalem had formidable natural defenses and survived many attacks but ultimately it was destroyed more than once, first by the Babylonians and later by the Romans. It is what Jerusalem represents that is impregnable. It is the place where God has put His name. His name is His presence. When Solomon’s temple was finished on Mt. Zion and the ark of the covenant was brought there in I Kings 8:10 and 11 we read, When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple. The cloud is none other than the Shekinah, the cloud of glory and the pillar of fire that led the Israelites in their wanderings and went both before them and after them to protect them. Later we read in I Kings 9:1-3, When Solomon had finished building the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do, the LORD appeared to him a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon. The LORD said to him:  “I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there. Now that same presence that protected and defended is on Mt. Zion. Interestingly enough when the Babylonians destroyed the temple, the multitude was first deported and the prophet Ezekiel reports that the cloud left the temple and Zion and followed the captives to Babylon. Thus when the Babylonians successfully destroyed the temple, God was no longer there. The great lesson here is that where God is at the center His people are safe. The church is His temple today. He dwells with His people. Jesus reminded His disciples in Matthew 18: 20, For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. So we can agree with the psalmist, Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.

II Partisan Providence

The partiality is displayed in verses 3-5, The scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous, for then the righteous might use their hands to do evil. Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, to those who are upright in heart. But those who turn to crooked ways the LORD will banish with the evildoers. It may be difficult for some to accept, but there are two parties in the world: Jesus’ party and the other one, Satan’s. But there is no doubt who is in control. All power and authority rests in the hands of our risen Lord according to Matthew 28: 18. The rod of the wicked cannot rest upon us without His permission, and as the psalmist says it never rests in such a way as to destroy us. This is what Paul writes to the Corinthian church in I Corinthians 10:13, No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. Now the world has a totally different approach. Their idea is to remove all parties. Communism, for example, posited that if you distribute the wealth and everything else evenly all would be fair and the rod of the wicked would not rest or remain on the lot of the righteous. How wrong was that? After their revolutions the foot of the people in control was on the neck of the impoverished populace. The wrong assumption was that society makes men dirty. What they found out was that men make society dirty, so no matter what society you construct, the rod of the wicked will always be falling on the righteous. Men are covetous. In the last century the National Council of Churches fell for this same socialistic lie of the devil, and advocated that everyone in society should have adequate income whether they could work or would work. This was not just politics to,them. For them it was a moral issue, but it was a moral issue they solved with the devil’s philosophy. Friends, the government is not a refuge, except for scoundrels. The myth of global sharing and government aid is alive and well today. Only God is a refuge, and only Jesus Christ, the Lord of all, can protect us. Thus the psalmist prays for God to do justice, and he prays with confidence in the Lord in verses 4 and 5, Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, to those who are upright in heart. But those who turn to crooked ways the LORD will banish with the evildoers.

III Propitious Providence

Propitious is not a word that most people use much, if ever. It means favorable, benevolent, favorably disposed towards someone, advantageous, and likely to result in success. Believing in God’s propitious providence the psalmist ends in verse 5 by pronouncing a blessing, Peace be upon Israel. We can be sure of a propitious providence because peace is upon Israel. As Paul says in Romans 5: 1 and 2, Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Jesus said in John 14:27, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. This peace is the direct result of being justified through Jesus’ blood and righteousness, and we are thus justified because God has become “propitious” toward us. You see we read in I John 2:1 and 2 in the authorized King James translation, And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins. This means the wrath of God against sinners has been fully satisfied, justice is appeased, and God has become propitious toward us and His providence therefore is favorable, benevolent, and in this case guaranteed to result in our success. This does not mean freedom from trouble, but it does mean ultimate success through Christ, so that we can join in the blessing, Peace be upon Israel.