What are the Songs of Ascent?


Psalms 120:1 - 134:3

ESV - 1 In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. 2 Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.

Clarify Share Report Asked August 31 2015 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
The Songs of Ascent are a special group of psalms comprising Psalms 120-134. They are also called Pilgrim Songs. Four of these songs are attributed to King David (122, 124, 131, 133) and one to Sol...

August 31 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

My picture Jack Gutknecht ABC/DTS graduate, guitar music ministry Baptist church
I don’t intend on exegeting all of the Ascent Psalms but here is just a sample of one, PSALM 126:1-6.

The psalmist remembers God's great deliverance and prays it will continue until completion. He describes the nation Judah's emotion upon being released from a terrible captivity. H. Wilmington has a good bare-bones alliterated outline of Psa. 126.

I. THE REALITY (Ps 126:1): At first the freed captives have difficulty comprehending the truth of this wonderful event. Remember Cleopas and the other disciple on the road to Emmaus? They could not believe that Jesus was alive after being put to death. 

Luke 24:11: “But these words seemed like pure nonsense to them, and they did not believe them.” 
Luke 24:41: “And while they still could not believe it (because of their joy) and were amazed, he said to them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’” 

That’s God. He will likely surprise us with joy. 

II. THE REACTION (Ps 126:2-3)
A. Among the people (Ps 126:2-3): They are filled with laughter and testify to God's faithfulness.
B. Among the pagans (Ps 126:2): They acknowledge God's care and amazing things he does for his

The Lord, in greatly blessing us,
Before the world His power displays;
Yea, great things God has done for us
And filled our hearts with joy and praise. (hymn: When Zion in her low estate)

This confession of the greatness of God was made by others in Scripture: Moses (Deut. 10:21), Job (Job 5:8–9), Samuel (1 Sam. 12:24), David (2 Sam. 7:21–23), the prophet Joel (Joel 2:21), Mary (Luke 1:49), and the unnamed demoniac whom Jesus healed (Luke 8:39). This ought to be the confession of every Christian and of every local church. Https://storage.snappages.site/7STCWP/assets/files/The-Wiersbe-Bible-Commentary-Old-Testame-90.pdf 

1 Samuel 12:24 quotes Samuel as saying to the Israelites, “Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.” This ought to be MY confession!

When God returned His people to their homeland after the Babylonian captivity, even the Gentiles neighbors confessed, “The LORD has done great things for them” (v. 2 NKJV). What has the Lord done in my life that might bring a similar response from unbelievers who know me?

III. THE REQUEST (Ps 126:4-6):
A. The petition (Ps 126:4): "Restore our fortunes, LORD." God’s people were experiencing a “dry season” after a time of past blessing; they pray here for a “flash flood” of his renewed blessing. This does not imply that they are requesting only a brief display of God’s blessing. Rather the point of comparison is the suddenness with which the wadis swell during a rain, as well as the depth and power of these raging waters. The community desires a sudden display of divine favor in which God overwhelms them with blessings. Bible.org

B. The promise (Ps 126:5-6): Those who plant in tears will harvest in joy. How can I apply the principle of sowing and reaping (vv. 5-6) to my ministry of drawing others to Christ?

Sow thy seed; be never weary;
Let no fears thy soul annoy;
Be the prospect ne’er so dreary,
Thou shalt reap the fruits of joy. (hymn by Thomas Hastings)

Don’t get tired of witnessing. Don’t be afraid. It might look hopeless. But the reward is sure. Crowns!

April 24 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini John Appelt
The fifteen Psalms 120-134 are titled, “A Song of Ascents.” The account of Hezekiah is very likely the basis of these Psalms. 

Hezekiah became ill and near death. He was told by Isaiah to set his house in order, and Hezekiah wept bitterly, Isaiah 38:1-4. Even before Isaiah left the middle court of the palace, the Lord told him to tell Hezekiah, having heard his prayer and seen his tears, He would heal him and add to his life fifteen years, II Kings 20:4-6. 

Hezekiah had asked Isaiah for a sign that the Lord would heal him. Isaiah presented a choice of what the Lord would do for him: have the shadow go forward ten degrees or backward ten degrees. Hezekiah chose the “harder” backward move.

It is not known if this was a sundial. It could have been a stairway as the word “degrees” means “steps,” Isaiah 38:8, II Kings 20:11. The stairway from the palace to the temple mentioned in Nehemiah 3:15 and 12:37, could have been the sundial of Ahaz.

At first, Hezekiah was ungrateful, II Chronicles 32:25, but then he humbled himself, II Chronicles 32:26. Isaiah 38 records Hezekiah’s song in which he describes his anguish of his heart and bitterness of his soul, and God’s amazing healing and deliverance. At the end of this song, Isaiah 38:20 mentions “my songs” which are likely included in the “Songs of Ascents.” 

Hezekiah may have been partly responsible for arranging some of the books in the Old Testament. It has been noted that in Hebrew manuscripts, 17 of the 22 books end with the three consonants of Hezekiah, HZK as if he had confirmed (same root as his name, “God is my strength,”) them as books of the Bible. So he could have selected some of the psalms for this section. 

The fifteen psalms correlate to the number of years added to Hezekiah’s life. Four are written by David (122, 124, 131, 133) and one is by Solomon (127) which Hezekiah selected as suitable for echoing his own experiences. But 10 of them are anonymous, but likely written by Hezekiah. These would correspond with the degrees the shadow of the sun going backward, and how he went up to the temple on the third day as God promised. 

There is a progression with every three:
Trial: 120 – 123 – 126 – 129 – 132
Trust: 121 – 124 – 127 – 130 – 133
Triumph: 122 – 125 – 128 – 131 – 134

Some see allusions to events in Hezekiah’s life. Psalm 124:7, for example, says, “Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers…” While true of David, it was also true of Hezekiah of whom Sennacherib, King of Assyria wrote, “[Hezekiah] himself like a caged bird within Jerusalem, his royal city, I shut in…” 

These psalms seem to have been sung by pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem and the temple. Some call them the Pilgrim Psalms and are suitable for present-day pilgrims making their way up to the heavenly city above.

May 07 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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