The fifteen Psalms beginning with Psalm 120 are each called “A Song of Ascents.” Probably (we don’t know for sure) sung by the Hebrews as they pilgrimed to Jerusalem three times a year for the great feasts, the gatherings of God’s people. These psalms are short, mostly cheerful, always hopeful–except the first, Psalm 120. It is short, but begins with distress, ends with war, and is filled with deceit. A low, all-too-real beginning, followed by a steady climb upward: “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy” (Psalm 126:1-2).
The gathering of God’s people is the high point, and otherworldly, in a sense–the city of God rising above the city of man. “You are the light of the world,” said Jesus. “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14). Nowadays, we call it Sunday church–the church pilgriming “up” and gathering together in one place, and would it be so wrong to sing on the way there?I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord!” ~Psalm 122:1
To You, O God, I lift my heart in praise. Out of chaos, You created a life overflowing with peace and hope and love. You did it once in the beginning of the world, You did it again at the cross and the empty tomb. You give me life everlasting, an eternity which has already begun. I am a citizen of Your Kingdom today and forever. My heart is glad and I will sing Your praises so all may hear of so great a salvation.
May I never be shy about it!