Chapter 5: Psalm 125

Psalm 125  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 9
A SONG OF DEGREES.
The Mountains round about Jerusalem.
AS following upon the deliverance of Israel from the power of the enemy described in Psalm 124, the stability of those who had found their help in the name of the Lord is declared: “They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth forever.” Mount Zion, the seat of Messiah’s glorious throne, will endure as long as the earth remains; and it is hence taken as a symbol of perpetual steadfastness. It “cannot be removed,” and it “abideth forever.” So is it with those whose trust is in Jehovah. A similar thought is found in Isaiah: “Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength,” or, as it is in the margin, the “Rock of Ages.” Those, therefore, who trust in Him partake of the character of the foundation on which they rest, as, for example, the living stones in 1 Peter 2 derive their character from the Living Stone to which they have come. We are thus blessedly reminded that it is not our feebleness, but the Lord’s strength which we have to consider; and that we may repose in unshaken confidence upon Him who cannot be moved, inasmuch as He is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.
If verse 1 gives the theme of the Psalm, the next two verses follow out the subject, and make a special application. A slight change may be made in the rendering of verse 2. Leaving out the first “so,” which has been added, and changing the second into “and,” it will read thus: “The mountains are round about Jerusalem, and the Lord is round about His people from henceforth even forever.” The sense remains the same, except that the change in the translation leaves the latter clause its full and unlimited force. Jehovah, as the foundation, so to speak, of His people’s confidence, gives to them everlasting stability; and as “round about” them He sets them in inviolable security. The mountains round about Jerusalem are regarded as her natural defense, a wall of protection; and Jehovah is looked upon as surrounding Israel with His own omnipotent care to shield them from danger and assault. What pains the Lord takes to assure His people of their perfect safety when they are once under His sheltering care!
Next comes the special application: “For the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous; lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity.” (v. 3.) We call this a special application, in that we have in this verse a reason given for Jehovah’s protection of His people, which is to preserve them from the power and dominion of the wicked in order that they might not be tempted into sin. By “rod” we understand “scepter” or “rule,” and by “lot” “portion” or inheritance. The meaning, therefore, is simply that never more should the righteous be brought under the sway of the wicked, as Israel had so often been in past ages through their sin. And observe the absoluteness of the statement, “The rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous,” and then the tenderness of Jehovah’s care in His solicitude that His people might not again put forth their hands unto iniquity. A holy God loves, and must have, a holy people, and He will guard them on every hand to secure His desires on their behalf. He thus permits us to see the yearning of His heart and the object of His government, that His aims and desires may also be ours.
The next verse is a prayer founded upon the revelation of His protection and government of His people: “Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good, and to them that are upright in their hearts.” This is an abiding principle of God’s government, and is fully stated in another Psalm: “With the merciful Thou wilt show Thyself merciful; with an upright man Thou wilt show Thyself upright; with the pure Thou wilt show Thyself pure; and with the froward Thou wilt show Thyself froward.” (Psa. 18:25-2625With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright; 26With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt show thyself froward. (Psalm 18:25‑26); compare Psa. 34:12, 1612What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? (Psalm 34:12)
16The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. (Psalm 34:16)
.) It is very necessary to bear in mind this distinction between grace and government; for while it is blessedly true that God’s attitude of grace towards His people is unchanging, determined as it is by what Christ is before Him, He yet never fails to chasten and to mark with His displeasure those among them whose walk and conduct bring dishonor upon His name. The condition, therefore, for the enjoyment of what He is in grace, for the manifestation of His favor, is a walk in His presence, as, for example, in the case of Enoch, who walked with God and had the testimony that he pleased God.
The first clause of verse 5 illustrates, on the other side, the same principle; for it is “such as turn aside unto their crooked ways,” showing that they are amongst the people of God, and yet those whom the Lord will load forth with the workers of iniquity. The face of the Lord must be against them that do evil wherever they are found. This is a solemn consideration for God’s professing people, seeing that our God is a consuming fire. The conclusion is very beautiful. As will be observed, there are but two words— peace—Israel; and some interpret, “Let peace be upon Israel,” while others take it as a promise, as in our translation, “Peace shall be upon Israel.” The difference is not great, for a divine desire is equivalent to a promise, and we may so regard it. The Israel specified is an Israel purified by judgment, as indicated in the previous verse, an Israel from whose midst have been purged out all such as had turned aside unto their crooked ways. It can scarcely be doubted that the apostle had this passage in his mind when he, as led of the Spirit, wrote, “And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” (Gal. 6:1616And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:16).) Yea, God’s Israel will ever have divine peace resting upon them in all the infinitude of its blessing. What a favor! And yet, great as it is, it will not compare with the peace of God which passeth all understanding, or the peace of Christ, which may now be enjoyed by every believer. This is only to say that heavenly blessings far transcend those which will be the portion of the earthly people. But whatever the dispensation, there can be no possession and enjoyment of the peculiar portion apart from a walk answering to the revelation which God has made of Himself to His people.