Bible Study: Psalm 120

In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me.  Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue. What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue? Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper. Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar! My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace. I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.”

We have to start somewhere and in comparison to heaven that starting place will be a humbling memory.  But it is this memory of where we once was at that can propel forward on the journey.  It is that starting point that makes us fully appreciate the transformation that has taken place in our life since we have come to Christ.  Without it we can become ungrateful of our salvation through Jesus.

It was in our distress, our wrestling with sin, that we cry out to the Lord and he hears us.  I remember very well my own experience of meeting Christ.  At the age of eight years old, laying between the seats of a blue Aerostar van, I cried out to Jesus to save my soul.  Also, along the way I have found myself in a similar place of sin, failure, and mistakes where I cry out to God again and find Him ready to answer my plea.

Do you remember where you were before Christ?  The psalmist remembers that his dwelling was in the places of Mesech and Kedar.  These were barbarous tribal communities who traveled the deserts of the middle east.  The two groups were far removed from each and so he could not be referring to literally living with them but uses these terms to describe “his adversaries as the most ruthless and godless of men” (Smith, 1996).  That’s the reality of our sin.  It doesn’t matter where we live.  Our surroundings won’t protect us from our sinful nature.  We are truly living in sin.

We may be “for peace” but our soul in sin is “for war.”  Paul laments that the sinful soul is in a state of turmoil.  He writes in Romans 7:15 “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not, but what I hate, that do I…O wretched man that I am!  Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”  Our sin has a hold on us so that when we try to live right it pulls us down again and again.

Yet, there is one who has heard our cry.  One who brings us deliverance from our bondage to sin.  His name, Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.  He comes to where are and delivers us up and out of sin and leads us toward heaven.  In John 1:14 we see that, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among.”  The word dwelt means to “tabernacle” or “pitch a tent.”  Christ came in the likeness of our flesh and set up camp.  He dwelt among us, lived with us.  He visited our neighborhood and took up residence.  Then through His death and resurrection gave us newness of life.  Deliverance from sin. It is because of what Christ has done we no longer dwell in the land and tents of Mesech and Kedar!  We have been set free!  Do you remember that happening to you?


Smith, J. E. (1996). The wisdom literature and Psalms (Ps 120:5). Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co.

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