28 June 2022
Praying with the Psalms in Ordinary Time:
28 June 2022 (Psalm 125)
In the Calendar of the Church, we are in Ordinary Time. The Calendar of the Church today commemorates Saint Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons and Teacher of the Faith. Before today begins, I am taking some time this morning to continue my reflections drawing on the Psalms.
In my blog, I am reflecting each morning in this Prayer Diary in these ways:
1, Short reflections on a psalm or psalms;
2, reading the psalm or psalms;
3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.
Psalm 125 is the sixth in a series of 15 short psalms (Psalm 120-134) known as the ‘Songs of Ascents.’ These psalms begin with the Hebrew words שיר המעלות (Shir Hama’a lot). In the slightly different numbering system in the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate, this is counted as Psalm 124. It is sometimes known by its opening words in Latin, Qui confidunt in Domino.
Many scholars say these psalms were sung by worshippers as they ascended the road to Jerusalem to attend the three pilgrim festivals. Others say they were sung by the Levite singers as they ascended the 15 steps to minister at the Temple in Jerusalem.
The Mishnah notes the correspondence between the 15 songs and the 15 steps between the men’s court and the women’s courtyards in the Temple. A Talmudic legend says King David composed or sang the 15 songs to calm the rising waters at the foundation of the Temple.
One view says the Levites first sang the Songs of Ascent at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple during the night of 15 Tishri 959 BCE. Another study suggests they were composed for a celebration after Nehemiah’s rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem in 445 BCE. Others suggest they may originally have been songs sung by the exiles returning from Babylon, ascending to Jerusalem or individual poems later collected together and given the title linking them to pilgrimage after the Babylonian captivity.
These psalms are cheerful and hopeful, and they place an emphasis on Zion. They were suited for being sung because of their poetic style and the sentiments they express. They are brief, almost like epigrams, and they are marked by the use of a keyword or repeated phrase that serves as a rung on which the poem ascends to its final theme.
Psalm 125 is short psalm of five verses. This psalm is a prayer expressing trust in God, likening Divine protection to the hills that surround Jerusalem.
Power and wealth do not make someone strong and firm like a mountain, but trust in God or faith. Those who have power and privilege may be wicked, but we are called to be good and ‘true of heart.’
The concluding prayer for peace upon Israel is heard once again at the end of Psalm 128. This phrase, ‘Peace be on Israel,’ became popular in later times and is found as part of the mosaic in the Byzantine synagogue in Jericho, dating from the sixth century CE.
Psalm 125 (NRSVA):
A Song of Ascents.
1 Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved, but abides for ever.
2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people,
from this time on and for evermore.
3 For the sceptre of wickedness shall not rest
on the land allotted to the righteous,
so that the righteous may not stretch out
their hands to do wrong.
4 Do good, O Lord, to those who are good,
and to those who are upright in their hearts.
5 But those who turn aside to their own crooked ways
the Lord will lead away with evildoers.
Peace be upon Israel!
The theme this week in the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is ‘Ethics and Leadership.’ It was introduced on Sunday by Andy Flannagan, Executive Director of Christians in Politics.
Tuesday 28 June 2022:
The USPG Prayer invites us to pray today in these words:
We pray for good relationships between churches, local communities and Members of Parliament. May they work together for the common good.
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org