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Songs of Ascent

Psalms 120 & 121 - Small Groups at Resurrection

Our psalm today is one of the Songs of Ascents in Scripture. Psalms 120-134 all start with the superscription “Song of Ascents.” They are also sometimes called the Gradual Psalms.

Many scholars believe these fifteen psalms were sung by worshippers as they ascended the road to Jerusalem for worship in the temple on the three major feasts: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Other scholars believe they were sung by the Levite singers as they ascended the fifteen steps into the temple (one psalm for each step).

With the exception of Psalm 132 (eighteen verses), all the Songs of Ascent are brief. Most have five to eight verses while Psalm 131, 133, and 134 only have three each. In addition to their brevity, they also use repetition: a word or phrase is repeated again in the next line. Brevity along with the repetition made them easier to memorize and recite. Many of the Songs of Ascent are happy and all of them are hopeful or at least end in hope.

The key word of today’s psalm is “eyes.” While the psalm begins in the singular, it ends in the plural. The eyes of all--psalmist and community--are upon the master (God) on whom they depend for everything. Let us fix our eyes on our Lord who alone can help us in our time of trial and need.


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