Banner Image:   Psalms of Ascent
For the season of Lent this year we’ll be working our way through the Psalms of Ascent (Psalm 120-134) as the Israelites travelled the slow uphill trek to Jerusalem for their annual festivals. If you miss some days click here to see the series so far or subscribe to receive the blogs every day.

March 27th : Psalm 132v1-10

This is a psalm built around two oaths. 

v2 - today, David makes an oath to God that he will build him a house, indeed he will not rest until that dwelling place is built. 

v11 - tomorrow, the Lord then swears an oath to David that he, God, in fact, will build an eternal ‘house’ (dynasty or lineage) through David’s line.

God’s ‘name’ in the first half of Psalm 132 is slightly obscure though. The Mighty One of Jacob (v2 and v5, taken from Genesis 49:24) signifies God’s power and majesty - He had kindly protected, guided and blessed Jacob. And it’s to this God that David makes a promise - he longs to build a dwelling place for Him. But this is not simply a political move, rather David is seeking that same blessing that God poured out on Jacob, for Israel in the land, now. “God, this was how you - in your might - treated and blessed Jacob, now treat us the same way”.

And what will happen in the house? v7 worship. Now they are in the land and settled, David longs for a temple for God where the people can gather and come before God in worship. But he will not end up building that temple - it will be Solomon, his son, who comes after him.

Stephen, in Acts 7:46, alludes to this narrative - essentially quoting v5 of our Psalm. Where David longed to build a house for God, so Stephen presses upon the people that God cannot really be housed in a temple, indeed, Jesus, the righteous one through whom they can now come and worship God - has been crucified by them. A few verses later they will stone him.

open hands iconGive thanks to God that, in Christ, we can come and worship. It’s in and through him - not a temple of bricks and mortar - that we can worship at his footstool.

Dan Steel

March 25th : Psalm 132 

Are we nearly there yet?

Psalm 132 is the start of our final triplet of Psalms - in them we’ll notice the feeling of being much more at home. The journey has nearly finished and so our eyes are looking ahead in hope. In Psalm 132 (where we’ll be shortly) there’s an emphasis on the KIng as Zion is where his throne is housed, in Psalm 133 there’s the experience of unity as the people are one, and in 134 it’s an image of safety and blessing. God’s people together, ruled by his king, in his place and experiencing his blessing.  A glimpse of Zion, for us a glimpse of the New Heavens and the New Earth.

God’s promise to KIng David in 2 Samuel 7 sits behind Psalm 132. It’s a psalm that not only recalls the promises that God made, but also calls on him to keep them. Reminding him of what he promised and of all that David did in faithful obedience. For the people to arrive ‘home’ in safety, and be kept in safety, having God’s king to provide and protect them will be vital. 

As we begin a few days in Psalm 132, let me ask you (as I ask myself) how much does that future hope impact and shape your life now? It’s very easy for the pressures and strains of life in the here and now to dominate and indeed eclipse the hope to which we’re called. 

open hands iconBut ask God to help that hope shape your everyday - that our vision of eternity as God’s people, in his place, lovingly ruled by his king might seep into the nooks and crannies of our day to day life.

Dan Steel

March 24th : Psalm 131 

Yesterday we were considering the idea of contentment as the Psalmist describes himself as a weaned child, one who is satisfied with the presence of God despite the mess and complexity of life. Today we’re going to consider a bit of how King David is able to arrive at this kind of perspective, and so how we may, as disciples, grow in it.

Within the Psalm there seem to be 3 elements:

    1.  Heart
v1a: His heart is not proud! By heart we’re not (just) talking about emotions, but “every facet of the hidden life of the personality, what a person is, does, feels and thinks ‘on the inside’” (Motyer). Our life that springs out from the hidden centre at the core of who we are. He is humble, he does not think too highly of himself, his heart is not lifted up. Contentment for King David begins with a right understanding of who he is.

    2.  Eyes
v1b: His eyes are not haughty! He is not one who looks down on those around him (indeed to link with the heart, he does not think too highly of himself, nor too lowly of others). But more than that - in the Old Testament the eye is the organ of desire - thus he is not constantly looking for what he does not have, or what he wants. Haughty eyes are always grasping and grabbing.

    3.  Pre-occupations 
v1c: He does not concern himself with great matters or things too wonderful for him! He’s willing to let God be God rather than planning and plotting schemes that he could never achieve or unsolvable problems. There’s a humble wisdom that comes from knowing our place, allowing the unknowable things of God to remain his. As Moses says in Deuteronomy 29 (v29) “The secret things belong to the Lord our God”

The quietened, weaned, humble soul is one that has a right view of self and others and is able to trust our Father in Heaven, (v3) putting our hope in him. 

Dan Steel

 List of Daily Meditations 

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Dan Steel, 10/02/2023