In the Book of Psalms there are fifteen special Psalms, called the songs of degrees or the songs of ascent. They are Psalms 120 to 134. The reason as to why they were called the songs of degrees is not directly mentioned in the Bible. Nevertheless it is believed that they were special Psalms sung during the festival times of the people of Israel. All the males of the people of Israel were required to go to the temple of God in Jerusalem three times a year (Deut. 16:16). The temple of God was situated on a high mountain. So as the people went for the three annual feasts, they had to take an upward winding road to reach the temple. It is believed that these songs were sung during the upward journey to the temple of God. That is why they were called the songs of degrees or ascent. The Psalmist speaks of such an experience in Psalm 42:4, "When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday". Then Isaiah 30:29 says, "Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the mighty One of Israel".
The upward journey of the people of Israel to the House of God in the mountain of the Lord can be compared with the spiritual upward journey of a believer. As the people of Israel desired to reach the House of God, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have a desire to reach heaven. Our Christian life is an upward journey. From the songs of degrees we can learn many important spiritual lessons, which re useful in our Christian walk. If you meditate upon each Psalm, from 120 to 134, God will teach you such lessons. Psalm 121 is the second song of degrees and it is well known and well loved by believers through all generations. Many believers read this Psalm to assure themselves of God's presence and protection. It is told that the first verse of this Psalm was recited by the third astronaut who set his foot on the moon. When he saw the beautiful mountains on the face of the moon he was reminded of Psalm 121: 1 and he exclaimed, "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help."
In these articles we are going to take afresh look at Psalm 121 so that the Lord may teach us simple but valuable lessons which we should know in our upward spiritual journey. Proverbs 4:18 says, "But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." May our lives be such. The first verse of Psalm 121 is actually a question in the original language. "Shall I lift up mine eyes to the hills? From whence should my help come?" Many people in Israel had the bad habit of worshipping idols on mountaintops. But the Psalmist having asked the question, "Shall I lift up mine eyes to the hills? From whence should my help come?" gives the answer in verse two, "My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth". The idols which people worshipped never claim to have made the heavens and the earth. But the Psalmist says that he is worshipping Jehovah Who made the heavens and the earth. That excludes all others gods who were only idols. Can you also truthfully say, "My help cometh from the
LORD who made heaven and earth?" There is in fact no Other god who can help us in anyway. The Lord God Jehovah is the true and the living God. It is by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God that we can become the children of God. (John 1: 12). Have you thought about the ki~d of help the Lord God is willing to give you if you turn to Him with all your heart? Let us look at this Psalm 121 and learn about the sevenfold help or blessings which come to us from the Lord.
LET THIS MIND BE IN YOU-2 - BAKHT SINGH
It was God's plan to make Isaac a partaker of the sevenfold spiritual blessing which He promised to Abraham in Gen. 12: 1-3, because that blessing was also meant for the seed of Abraham . But Isaac had to understand these promises by experience. So in the beginning of Genesis chapter 26 God reminded him of these promises. "Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee; and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father" (v .3). He had to learn patiently to be led by the Lord. For sometime he did not obey the Lord fully, and dwelt in Gerar for along time. There was a great temptation for him to tell a lie concerning his wife Rebekah. "And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon" (v.7). Doubt and fear came into his heart. The Lord had confirmed His promise and there was no
reason for him to doubt and fear about Rebekah or about himself. Nobody could do them any harm yet he was afraid and his heart was filled with doubt. That is why he stayed too long in Gerar. But God overruled and protected him from the men of the country. "And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death" (v.11).
Then again Isaac was tempted to stay in Gerar longer than he should because of worldly prosperity. "Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great" (vs. 12, 13). Even though he received hundredfold fruit that year and became very prosperous, still that was not the place for him to stay. God in His goodness helped him to move out. He had not yet received the blessings, which God had kept for him. God has always much more to give us than what we have. Because of jealousy the men of Gerar pushed him out of the country. Many believers think God is with them and that they are in His will because of their earthly prosperity. Many have lost their joy and peace because of their desire for worldly possessions. Many young men agree to marry unbelievers because there is a desire in their hearts for
money, so they go on bargaining. They may get what they demand but later on they land themselves into trouble and end in misery. In the same way when Isaac became prosperous the people of the country became jealous of him.
The people of Gerar forced Isaac to leave the country and go away. The king was also afraid of him and he was compelled to leave the country and go elsewhere. "And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we" (v. 16). Whatever he received materially did not bring him real joy. Those who acquire much wealth by worldly wisdom finally end up in tears. There are many believers who go abroad for the sake of money. They earn much money, and become worshippers of money. Because of this love of money they get . into many family problems and get involved in court cases. God showed Isaac that he had a lesson for him to learn and so he came to the valley of Gerar. "And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there" (v. 17). God wanted him to go further away but because of the wells which his father had dug he stayed there and thus failed to find God's will (Gen. 26:18-20). The people of the country began to provoke him and strive with him. Generally strife comes through jealousy. Our neighbors, friends and relations try to find fault and strive with us. Even though the servants of Isaac dug the wells, which belonged to his father, still the people of the land were jealous of him and strove with him. Because of strife, that place was called 'Esek'. "And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah" (v. 21). Sitnah means hatred. Because of love for money believers often get involved in court cases through hatred and jealousy. There is contention between brothers and sisters and father- in-Iaw and son-in-Law. But as Isaac moved wisely, he saw a better place. "And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land" (v.22). Because he refused to be involved in quarrels and contentions God showed a large place. God gave him a large heart to forgive the people who pushed him out of the country.