This great Psalm is thought to have been written by David as he brought the Ark of God to Mount Zion.
In the process of this venture David's thoughts seemed to take him back many years
when he had to flee from Saul.
As he fled from Saul, he escaped to the city of Nob where the priests were located.
Here he received the holy loaves and retrieved the sword of Goliath.
Here he also found Doeg who was an Edomite and a servant of Saul.
David thought that Doeg would go to Saul and tell him that something awful was likely to happen.
(1 Sam. 22:22)
Sure enough Doeg went to the jealous Saul and slandered David.
So, because of this, Saul ordered Doeg to go to Nob and kill all the priests that had befriended David.
This he did.
Eighty-five priests, along with many men, women, children, and animals were slain.
So, when David brought the Ark to Zion, he began to think back to those horrible days.
He remembered that meeting Doeg resulted in deceitful lies about him and in the death
of many, many innocent people.
There are some spiritual lessons we can gain from this experience.
First, we must take note that this was not the cry of a non-believer crying for deliverance from sin
or the wages of sin.
It is the expression of one who already knew the Lord.
He has met the Lord and now he realizes that he must move forward in his life for his Lord.
This is the beginning of the Christian experience.
Here we see the longing, the cry, the desire to move forward in his life for God.
In Psalm 120 this soul is in trouble. He confides: In my distress I cried unto the Lord and he heard me.
Deliver my soul, O Lord. (Verses 1-2)
Here is a soul longing for deliverance.
What about you and me?
Now that we are Christians, how are we going to move ahead and ascend to the heights of our life in Christ.
We must have a burning desire.
If we have no desire then there will be no progress.
Only when the Lord has stirred within us a desire for a change will we desire more of Him.
It is only then that we can make progress in our life as a Christian.
We must remember the nation of Israel was taken captive to Babylon.
But they were allowed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the house of God.
How did this happen?
It started in this way: The Spirit of God stirred up the heart of Zerubbabel, of Joshua,
of Nehemiah, of Ezra, and of many others.
As their hearts were aroused with a desire and longing to rebuild the house of the Lord,
they were inwardly moved to go back to the Promised Land and to Jerusalem.
But without such a stirring within their hearts, not one of the Jews in captivity would have ever returned.
They would have simply remained where they were.
We humans adapt easily to our circumstances.
We have a great capacity to adapt.
It is good that we can adapt.
We can adapt to hot or cold weather.
Adaptability is a good thing.
It can also be a very dangerous thing.
The reason for this is as we adapt ourselves to our environment and to our circumstances,
we lose our sensitivity.
We get accustomed to things.
We grow dull.
We are lulled to sleep.
We become content.
We would much rather stay in Babylon and build our own house than be urged to go to Jerusalem
and rebuild the house of God.
That is the danger.
If we develop this kind of spirit, then that is the end of our spiritual progress.
We will not move ahead to a greater closeness with God if we do not remain sensitive to our present circumstances.
There must be a holy dissatisfaction with things as they are.
We must have that great desire within us to have more and more of God in our lives.
The aspiration of the Psalmist in Psalm 73 must become our aspiration:
Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee.
This must be the longing within us if we would make progress in our Christian lives.
How can such a desire be aroused in us?
The best and most positive way to this is by the love which is within us.
God has planted the love of Christ within, and this love so constrains us that we will desire
more and more of Christ.
The more we love; the more we desire.
So, with Christ living in us, we long for God; we thirst for God; we hunger after God.
Is that true of you?
Sad to say, many of us need to be in trouble before we desire very much of the Lord.
If everything is going smoothly; if all is good; if we are comfortable; if we are prospering;
we very easily forget God.
We settle down at ease and enjoy ourselves with so little desire for God.
But the moment we get into trouble; surrounded by problems; faced with the prospects of death;
or some other dire need; it is then we begin to discover that I need more of God.
It is then that we commence again to long for more of Him.
In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and He heard me. (Verse 1)
This is the very reason that God allows us to be in trouble.
God permits difficulties, sickness, tragedies, disease, death and other such crises into our lives
so that we might again be stirred up to desire more and more of Him.
It is by His grace that we learn this lesson.
It is one that we must learn.
What is the trouble confronting the soul in Psalm 120?
Listen to what he said: I have dwelt long enough in Meshech, among the tents of Kedar; I am for peace,
but when I speak they are for war. (Verse 7)
He says that he has dwelt long enough in Meshech and Kedar.
Where is Meshech and Kedar?
Genesis 10 tells us that Meshech and his descendants eventually came to dwell in the region
between the Caspian and Black Seas.
In other words, they lived north of Palestine, the land of promise.
Genesis 25 informs us that Kedar was a descendant of Ishmael.
The families of Kedar settled in the Arabian deserts.
So they were south of the Promised Land.
Now do you get the picture?
He declares, I have lived long in Meshech" (north of Palestine); and I have lived among the tents of Kedar"
(south of the Promised Land).
Where should he be dwelling?
A soul belonging to God should be living in the Promised Land!
Strangely enough, he is living outside the Promised Land.
This is the reason he is in trouble!
Now he doesn't dwell in both places, but spiritually the truth is that instead of abiding in the Land of Promise
where he should be; he is dwelling where he shouldn't be - outside in the world.
Isnt that the experience of many Christians today?
As a child of God and as one who has been saved at so great a cost, where should I live?
Jesus has made that abundantly clear. Abide in me and I in you.
As Christians we must abide in Christ.
Christ, Himself, is our Promised Land.
A Christian cannot be happy in the world.
If we are living in the world, then Christ who lives in us is grieved.
We cannot be happy if Christ is grieved with us.
So, if you find yourself in this position, do you turn to the Lord and cry for deliverance?
Dont you desire to be delivered?
There is the difference!
Do you desire to be delivered from the world?
Unless the Spirit of God strikes our conscience concerning our lips and our tongues,
we are at once struck by the realization that all around us are lying lips and deceitful tongues.
So, to be delivered from the world around us, we must be delivered from the world within us.
And until the Spirit of God awakens us and causes us to be sensitive to our position,
we wont take notice of our need or even be concerned.
What shall be given unto thee? Or what shall be done unto thee, thou deceitful tongues?
Sharp arrows of the mighty, with glowing coals of the broom tree."
He asks what can be given or rewarded to lying lips, and David answers:
The arrows of the mighty one; and the glowing coals of the broom tree.
We can appreciate what he is saying about an arrow.
With an arrow there is no retreat.
An arrow is shot and you cannot retrieve it.
Once the word escapes our lips, you cannot bring it back.
In dealing with our lying lips the Word of God is like a mighty arrow - it will go swiftly and penetrate
deeply as it cuts to the conscience.
Then, we begin to realize the ugliness, the awfulness, and the terror of our lips.
The glowing coals of the broom tree
In the desert are trees called broom trees or juniper trees.
Travelers in the desert will cut the branches of these trees and burn them in order to keep warm at night.
They are easily ignited and they make a great fire.
The fires of these trees die out very slowly.
Doesnt this sound like a description of our words.
Even as lies and deceitful words spread rapidly and last a long time in their evil effect,
the judgment of God is also swift and permanent. (Matt. 12:36)
Like this seeking soul in Psalm 120, we must experience an awakening of desire to quit dwelling
and living outside in the world; talking like the world and behaving like the world;
we should desire to move out from our Meshechs and move out from among our tents of Kedar
and cry unto the Lord to deliver us.
Then we can truly abide in Christ and experience all the blessings of His grace that are ours already in Christ.
We must pray: Dear Lord, we desire that You would create within us a holy desire
and holy longing for your dwelling in us that we may constantly abide in you.
This sermon is by Dr. Harold L. White
You can email Dr. White at firstname.lastname@example.org