to the Psalms of Ascent
In the Old Testament
there are fifteen psalms called the "Psalms of Ascent," which together
make up one of the most precious and beautiful portions of the Bible.
These psalms were to be sung when the children of Israel came to Jerusalem
and ascended to the top of Mount Zion three times a year, where they would
hold a feast before the Lord. The physical ascent of the Israelites up
Mount Zion is a type, or a picture, of the spiritual ascent of Christian
believers through their growth in life and experience.
The first Psalm of
Ascent, Psalm 120, begins, "In my distress I called out to Jehovah." This
is a picture of regeneration. When we first cried out to the Lord, we
were saved. The last Psalm of Ascent, Psalm 134, begins, "Bless Jehovah
now, all you servants of Jehovah who stand by night in the house of Jehovah."
Here we see servants of the Lord who are no longer in the world, but in
the Lord's house. They stand "by night," which refers to the time immediately
before the Lord comes back. These servants are those who are standing
for God's testimony and are exercising in the church life to bring the Lord
back. Therefore, these fifteen short psalms give us an overall picture
of our Christian growth from regeneration to the Lord's return.
We can divide these fifteen psalms into five "stages" of three psalms
each. We are not looking at these psalms from a scholarly point of view.
Rather, we will treat them in a simple way according to our experience.
The second and third
stages can also be grouped together as one portion. Even though we are
separating them, this doesn't mean that we go through the stage of consecration
and afterwards enter into the stage of enjoyment. We should not think
that in the stage of enjoyment consecration is over, so we can love the
world and love the Lord together. In our experience, whenever our consecration
is gone, then our enjoyment of the Lord is also gone. If we want to enjoy
the Triune God then we must be a consecrated person all the time. The
moment we are away from consecration we are also out of the enjoyment.
Sometimes we think, "I did quite well yesterday. Today I can be relaxed."
Then our enjoyment is gone. Consecration and enjoyment come together in
our experience. However, we will still treat them as two separate stages
of three psalms each.
- Psalms 120-122
are the first stage, the stage of "vision."
- The second stage,
Psalms 123-125, focuses on our consecration. Out of our vision we
come to a consecration.
- The third stage,
Psalms 126-128, is the stage of enjoyment. Our consecration leads
to a rich enjoyment of the Lord.
- The fourth stage,
Psalms 129-131, we will call the stage of enlargement. Our enjoyment
of the Lord eventually causes us to become an enlarged person.
- Then from our
experience of enlargement we enter the final stage, the stage of maturity
We will share five messages. Each messages will cover one stage, or one
group of three psalms. Our ability to apprehend these messages is based
on our level of experience. Some of these messages may be beyond our grasp.
If we appreciate the first message the most, that probably means we are
recently saved. If we enjoy the second message the most, that means we
have gone farther in our growth. If we get lost by the fifth message,
that means we still have a long way to go. The more we understand a message,
the more we know we have experienced it. Our experience will determine
our ability to understand.
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messages of the Psalms of Ascent
The first stage of the Psalms of Ascent is the stage of vision. We
need to have a vision concerning the world, a vision concerning the
Lord, and a vision concerning the church life.
of the World
Psalms 120 gives us a vision
of the true nature of the world. The world is first a world of lies,
deceit, and vanity but eventually it wars against those who want what
of the Lord
In Psalm 121 we come to the very God who is the Maker
of heaven and earth. Leaving the world behind, we begin our spiritual
ascent up Mount Zion.
of the Church as God's Testimony
Psalm 122 shows us a vision of the church, the Body
of Christ. We need to see this vision as we continue our ascent. We
must realize that the vision of the church can only come after the
vision of the world and the vision of the Lord.