Songs of Ascents: Thanking God

Songs of Ascents: Thanking God

The Psalms ascribe great glory to God, and are a treasure of the Holy Scriptures.

Within the Psalms are “songs of ascents”, which scholars believe were either sung by Jewish worshipers as they ascended the road into Jerusalem to attend the 3 pilgrimage-based festivals spoken of in Deuteronomy 16:

Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the Lord empty-handed: Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you. (Deuteronomy 16:16-17)

or by the kohanim (Jewish priests) as they ascended the 15 steps to minister at the Temple in Jerusalem.

Psalms 120-134 comprise the “songs of ascents” which, while generally brief, are all but filled to overflowing with cheerfulness and hope. In reading the “songs of ascents”, one cannot help but be in awe at the amazing provisions of God: what He does for all who are His children. What I have come to understand in the later years of my life (never having understood it in the earlier years of my life) is that our time is not God’s time: and while He may not provide what we truly have need of when we think we need it, He is never late when He provides what He knows we truly have need of. I challenge anyone who can be honest with themselves to think back carefully over the span of their lives thus far, and discover evidence that God has not provided for them all along. What is a whole lot more likely to be discovered is that God has provided for them all along: they have simply not been aware of it, or have consciously denied it. Being the young fool that I was for so many years, I never once gave any gratitude to God for the provisions that He made for me… and He made an uncountable number of them. How many people do you know who would willingly continue to give you good things when all that you could find to do in return for those good things was to either ignore, or mock and ridicule, those who gave them to you? As a whole, people are pretty much ungrateful; that behavior, and many other negative behaviors besides, are not behaviors that we have to work at to do them as well as we do.

Welcome to the resident sin nature that is an integral part of every human being since Adam and Eve first sinned against God.

God is patient:

All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations – (Isaiah 65:2)

In the “songs of ascents”, we see some of the most inspiring passages of Holy Scripture that tell us what God does for us:

I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me. (Psalm 120:1)

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; (Psalm 121:2-3)

The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. (Psalm 121:5-8)

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” (Psalm 122:1)

As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy. (Psalm 123:2)

If the Lord had not been on our side – let Israel say – if the Lord had not been on our side when men attacked us, when their anger flared against us, they would have swallowed us alive; (Psalm 124:1-3)

As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore. (Psalm 125:2)

Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, to those who are upright in heart. (Psalm 125:4)

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. (Psalm 126:5-6)

In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for he grants sleep to those he loves. Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. (Psalm 127:2-4)

Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. (Psalm 128:1-3)

But the Lord is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked. (Psalm 129:4)

But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. (Psalm 130:4)

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. (Psalm 130:7)

My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. (Psalm 131:1)

O Lord, remember David and all the hardships he endured. (Psalm 132:2)

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! (Psalm 133:1)

It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. (Psalm 133:3)

Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord. (Psalm 134:2)

Let’s recap what God does for us:

He answers us when we call…
He helps us constantly…
He watches over us…
He is our protection from all harm…
He causes us to rejoice…
He shows us His mercy…
He is on our side…
He surrounds us…
He does good to us…
He turns tears and weeping into songs of joy…
He provides rest and reward…
He blesses the work of our hands, and He blesses our families…
He protects us from the wicked…
He provides us forgiveness, hope, love and redemption…
He delivers us from pride and haughtiness…
He remembers the hardships we endure…
He causes us to live in unity…
He bestows the blessing of eternal life…
He causes us to praise His Holy Name…

You may rest assured that it is not only in the Old Testament where we see the provisions of God: we see every sentiment (and more) that was echoed throughout the “songs of ascents” in the faultless teaching of Jesus Christ, the KING of kings and the LORD of lords from the Sermon on the Mount:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-34)

God is nothing if not about provision… and it is time that we understand just how much God cares for us and about us. We need to praise His Name, to thank Him for what He has done (and continues to do) for us, to believe in the One that He has sent so that all who are drawn to Him by God will be granted eternal life in the free pardon of sin that has come by the shed blood of that One, Jesus Christ, and to trust Him and to call upon Him for ALL things.

Thank Him with all of your heart!!

About On A Journey

It's About Jesus!!
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