Cheering Others On

Psalm 120




     It is possible that the fifteen psalms (chs 120-134) known as the “Songs of Degrees or Ascents” were sung by the caravans of pilgrims going up to attend the annual feasts at Jerusalem. But it is equally possible that the title has reference to some peculiarity in connection with the music or the manner of using it. It is unknown to me whether David wrote this group of psalms or if they were penned by someone else. Some of them, including this first one, may have been written while David was living with the Philistines in Ziglag.

  • I call on the Lord in my distress.
  • Save me from lying lips.
  • Think what He will do to you, you deceitful tongue.
  • You will be punished with a warrior’s arrow or perhaps burned with hot coals.
  • Woe to me for living in Meshek and dwelling in the tents of Kedar under false pretenses.
  • I’ve lived too long among those who hate peace.
  • I am for peace, but when I speak of peace, they are for war.



This seems to be written during the time when David was running for his life and hiding from Saul. During a good share of this time he dwelt just over the boarder with the enemies of Judah.

Here he and his band of rebels lived a lie among their enemies. Under the guise of being outlaws, they claimed to be running night raids on villages of Judah. In reality they were destroying villages of Israel’s enemies. They would kill every man, woman and child, so that there would be no witnesses to what he was doing. The livestock would be driven to the nearest Israeli village and turned loose. Any gold and other valuables were taken back to Ziglag to be stored in their quarters.

So, it would appear that he was asking God for forgiveness for this deceitful life.

I’m wondering, how often do we deceive others, concerning our Christian life, while living in a sinful world. Instead of living a life of frugality in order to point those around us to God’s salvation, we live like they do. Our stock of “toys” and pile of debt looks just like theirs. Our topics of conversation sounds no different.

Instead of cheering on our favorite sports teams, we should spend more time cheering on our fellow pilgrims.


Psalm 121




  • I lift up my eyes to the mountains and consider; where does my help come from?
  • My help comes from the maker of these mountains and the heavens above.
  • He protects us; He never sleeps nor even catnaps.
  • The Lord overshadows you; the sun will not harm you by day nor the moon by night.
  • The Lord will keep you from all harm; He watches over your life.
  • He will watch over your coming and going, both now and forevermore.



David was a man that spent a good share of his adult life on-the-run and eventually died an old man. So, when he says the Lord will watch over you and protect you from all harm, you gotta pay attention.

He spent a lot of those years, on-the-run from King Saul, hiding in the rugged hills. Even though he was hiding in the hills he acknowledged that his mountain hideaways were not really his protection. His real protection came from God.

As we approach the End of Days, it would be well to remember that it is God who watches over and protect us. We can do all the “prepping” that we want, we can be following all the “rules,” but in the end it will be our dependence on God that carries us through difficult times.




The devil Made Me Do It!

Psalm 119 (K)




Verses 145- 152 – Qoph

  • I call out with all my heart. Answer me and I will obey You and keep Your statutes.
  • I rise before dawn in supplication, for my hope is in You.
  • My eyes stay open through the night so that I might meditate on Your word.
  • According to Your loving promises, consider my requests.
  • Deliver me from my enemies who surround me.
  • My enemies are near me, but far from Your law.
  • Long ago I learned from Your statutes that You have established them forever.


Verses 153-160 – Resh

  • I have not forgotten Your law or Your promises.
  • So, remember my cause and defend me. Save my life and deliver me from suffering.
  • The wicked do not seek out Your decrees or law, therefore salvation is far from them.
  • I have not disregarded Your laws, so in Your compassion, preserve my life.
  • See how I love Your precepts.
  • All Your words are true and just; all Your righteous laws are eternal.



Many times I have asked myself, “Why does this guy sound like such a phony? He claims to be keeping the law and loving the precepts and statues of God, but yet he is deviating so often from what I would consider a Godly life. It must really be true, that God looks on the heart, while man looks on outward appearances.

I think that the ones who know me best must certainly have made the same observation of me. I know that I am not following God in every detail of my life. There are things that I do, that when I give a second thought to , after the fact, I ask, “Why did I say or do THAT?”

The only observation or rationalization that I can give is, “The devil made me do it.”

I would hope and I long for the day when the devil has no foothold in my life. When my impromptu acts and hasty deed are motivated by a desire to reflect the will of Jesus in my life.



Psalm 119 (L)




Verses 161-168 – Sin and Shin

  • Rulers persecute me without cause, but it’s Your word that make my heart tremble.
  • Seven times a day I praise You for Your righteous laws.
  • I rejoice in Your promises.
  • I detest falsehood.
  • I wait for Your salvation, Lord, and I follow Your commands.
  • I obey Your precepts and Your statutes, for all my ways are known to You.


Verses 169- 176 – Taw

  • May my cry come before You, Lord, give me understanding as You have promised in You word.
  • May my supplication come before You, that my deliverance will be according to Your promise, not because of what I have done.
  • May my lips overflow with praise for You.
  • May my tongue sing Your words.
  • May Your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen Your precepts.
  • I long for Your salvation, let me live that I may praise You.
  • I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek Your servant, for I have not forgotten Your commands.



And so concludes the longest chapter in the Bible. As I’ve noted earlier, this was a monumental task in conception and output. I had never heard of an acrostic poem before this one. Perhaps one day I will try something similar with the English language.

This may have been a work that spanned several years and is representative of different periods in David’s life. That could be why its focus shifts several times and why he seems a little desperate at times and rejoicing at others point in the verses.

I would challenge each of you to read this amazing chapter for yourself. See how it is translated in other versions. If you are fluent in another language, check out that translation also.

Here is a link to an online Bible that has many versions and translations to help you get started:

Sometimes I Wonder Where God’s Salvation Is Lurking

Psalm 119 (I)



Verses 121-128 Ayin

  • I have done what is righteous and just, therefore ensure my well being and keep my arrogant oppressors at bay.
  • I’m finding it difficult to see your salvation or the fulfillment of your promises.
  • Give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.
  • Your law is being broken by so many; its time for you to take action.
  • I value Your right precepts above pure gold.
  • I hate every wrong path.


Verses 129-136- Pe

  • Your statutes are wonderful. Therefore I obey them.
  • The unfolding of Your words give light and understanding to the simple.
  • Direct my footsteps.
  • Redeem me.
  • Make Your face to shine on me
  • Streams of tears flow down my cheeks for Your laws are not being obeyed.



“I’m finding it difficult to see your salvation or the fulfillment of your promises.” Both David and I have had this experience in our lives. Although he claimed to be following all of God’s righteous ways, the only claim that I could make was to be following all the teachings of my church. But in retrospect, I was lying to myself.

Even then, I expected God would bless me according to what I DID follow. However, even a casual reading of the Book of Job should have let me know that just because we act right, doesn’t mean we’ll be treated right. Even as Job was mistreated by the devil, he saw it as misplaced punishment from God.

When I have gone through periods of hardship or times when I could not get the victory over some besetting evil in my life, I, like David, have wondered where God’s salvation was lurking, since I could not see it in my life.

Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me..”
This has become my prayer. Like David, I have determined to trust Him even when I don’t understand the way He is leading me.


Psalm 119 (J)




Verses 137-144 Tsadhe

  • Your ways are righteous and Your laws are just and trustworthy.
  • You instruct us on how to live faithfully for You.
  • Your promises have been tested thoroughly.
  • I am too young to be important, but I don’t forget what You tell me.
  • Your revelations are the only truth.
  • Even though troubles nearly overwhelm me, I take delight in Your words.
  • The way You instruct me is always right, so help me understand that I may live life to the fullest.



Do I always understand what God is trying to do in my life? NO!

Do I appreciate what He does to correct me? NO!

Can I know whether it is God correcting me, or the devil persecuting me? NO!

But, my Bible tells me that, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” (Prov.14:12   NIV) So it appears that we should not take the easy way, because it looks right to us. The harder way would develop our characters more.

Job’s easy choice would be to listen to his wife, and curse God and die. The first guy that tried listening to his wife for answers to important questions (Adam) brought death to the whole world!

However, had I listened more to my wife, my life may have been a lot easier!

“Yes, Lord, help me to understand Your words that I may understand what You want of me this day. Help me to live out Your words, so that others will see You in me.”







Riding Roughshod Through Life

Psalms 119 (G)




Verses 89 -97 Lamedh

  • Yahweh, You have the last word in everything, in heaven and on earth.
  • Your faithfulness is for ALL generations and your law remains in effect to this day.
  • In fact, if Your law had not been at work, I would have perished in my affliction.
  • I will never forget Your precepts for they have revived me.
  • I am Yours, Save me according to Your will.
  • The wicked wait to destroy me, but Your commands are boundless.


Verses 97-104 Mem

  • Your law is my meditation all day, making me wiser than my enemies.
  • I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation.
  • I understand more than the aged, because in keeping Your word I have not turned toward evil ways.
  • Your word is sweeter than any honey comb.
  • I hate every false way.


Verses 105-112 Nun

  • Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.
  • I have sworn and confirmed that I will obey Your righteous ordinances.
  • I am afflicted very much. Deliver me, according to Your word.
  • The wicked continually lay snares for me, but I have kept to Your precepts.
  • I have sworn to keep to your precepts, for they are the joy of my life.
  • I have set my heart to do Your will forever, even to the bitter end.



He is a spiritual warrior with incredible courage and stamina who still has trouble “keeping it together” enough to stay out of trouble. He knows it, and it bothers him a lot. The things he WANTS to do he can’t, and those things that he DOESN’T want to do, he ends up doing.

So much like Paul. So much like me!

I have ridden roughshod over the advice of others, “my teachers,” with MY ideas, plans and wishes. Sometimes I was right, but the general course of my life has been unsatisfactory, because I have not followed God or considered His righteous ways nor listened to the advice of others.

Now, with so many bad habits that are a part of my life, I sometimes despair for a change to be made in my life.

So, I must thank God daily for His gift of salvation from my life of sin, despite what my life may look like at any given moment.


Psalm 119 (H)




Verses 113-120 Samekh

  • I hate double-minded people.
  • You are my shield and refuge.
  • My hope is in Your word.
  • Out of my sight you evil doers; I want to keep God’s law.
  • You have promised, God, to sustain me; Don’t disappoint all my grand hopes.
  • Expose all who drift away from Your sayings.
  • You reject all earth’s wickedness as so much rubbish.
  • Therefore will I lovingly embrace everything You say.
  • I shiver in awe of You.
  • Your decisions leave me speechless with reverence.



My eyelids are heavy. I can’t concentrate. The enemy of my soul is trying to keep my mind from Your word this morning.

Forgive me, Lord, for not having the power to resist on my own. May your will be done in my life today!



For the Shriveled and Useless among Us


Psalm 119 (F)




Verses 73- 80 Yodh

  • Your hands have made me, now give me also, understanding .
  • I have put my hope in Your word; may that encourage others, God.
  • I know that Your judgments are righteous and Your afflictions are for my benefit.
  • Please let Your loving kindness be for my comfort.
  • Let Your tender mercies come toward me that I may live.
  • Let the proud be disappointed for they have overthrown me wrongfully.
  • I delight in Your law and meditate on Your precepts.
  • Let those who love You turn to me in my need .
  • Let my heart be blameless, that I my not be disappointed.


Verses 81- 88 Kaph

  • I long for Your Salvation; I have become like a wine skin in the smoke, but I don’t forget Your statutes.
  • I am shriveled and useless and full of questions about my future.
  • When will be the end of my days? When are You going to execute judgment on those who persecute me and dig unlawful pits for me? They have almost wiped me from the face of the earth. Help me!
  • Preserve my life so that I may obey the statutes of Your mouth.



These verses give more clues that this may have been written near the end of David’s life, when he feels old, decrepit and useless. He obviously wants to continue following God, but he is filled with clouds of doubt and fear.

The afflictions of which he speaks may have been nothing more than those common to old age; feebleness, failing eyesight, etc. Or, he may have had a specific affliction placed on him as did Apostle Paul. Like Paul, he prays for it to be taken away, but is willing to live graciously with it as did Paul.

The Kaph portion of this psalm was written, I believe, especially for the “shriveled and useless and full of questions about my future,” segment of the population. This is normally the time in life when all of us began to be more concerned about our future than our present.

Our battles with sin come in cycles. With even a minimal knowledge of God in our youth, we have a longing to please Him up to about 12 years of age. Then, comes the years of drifting away and wanting to live for “my pleasure.” When we are old enough to gain our independence, get a job and start raising a family, many return to God in order to instruct their children. But, as we start getting older, we start drifting again. Our lives are caught up in the struggles of life and collecting the “toys” that we couldn’t afford when our children were young. We also tend to be satisfied or smug with our relationship with God and tend to take Him for granted. After retirement our priorities shift again. We begin to ask the questions that David brings up in this psalm, “How long am I going to live? When will I die? and, how? ”

I believe more than ever, that I have reached David’s point in life. I don’t worry about it, but I do spend time wondering.

Led by the Gonads

Psalm 119 (E)




  • verses 57- 64- Heth
  • Jehovah is my lot in life; I have promised that I would follow His words.
  • I have begged His favor with my whole heart.
  • Be merciful toward me, even as You have promised.
  • However, when I considered my wayward actions I quickly turned back toward Your words of wisdom; to obey Your commandments.
  • Even though cords of wickedness had wrapped around me, I have not forgotten Your law.
  • Late into the night I have compared my wayward life to Your ordinances and been humbled.
  • I still am an equal to them who love You and observe Your precepts.
  • You fill the earth with Your loving-kindness, so teach me more of Your statutes.


  • Verses 65-72- Teth
  • You have continually dealt well with me, God, according to Your word.
  • So, now teach me good judgment; for I have believed in Your word.
  • Before I was afflicted, I went astray; now I am obeying Your word.
  • The proud have forged lies against me for their hearts are as fat as grease.
  • It has been good for me to be afflicted; that I may take time to learn more of Your statutes.
  • The words of Your mouth are worth more to me than thousands in gold and silver.



So, when in his life does David refer to when he says, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray; now I am obeying Your word.” Was it when he took Nabel’s wife for his own? Perhaps it was when he asked Abner to bring his former wife , Michael, to him as a condition of peace talks. Maybe, it was when he had Uriah the Hitite killed so he could take Bathsheba to wife.

I just finished reading the story told in 2 Samuel of his miscreant deed with Bathsheba and of his reprimand by God through the prophet Nathan. Nathan told him that his first son would die because of his sin with her.

Indeed the boy was born with an illness, from which he died within 7 days. During this time, David prayed, fasted and shed many tears the whole time for the life of his son. He was sorely afflicted because of the judgment of God.

He knew God’s laws concerning marriage and murder, but he was driven by his gonads to act in a willful way. If this is the experience that he referred to, it evidently worked, for he proclaims, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray; now, I am obeying Your word.”

So, many of us, like David, know to do right, but don’t do it, or ignore it and proceed to do those things that break our connection with God.

I have been afflicted by many tears of remorse for the many times that I have done things that were expressly against God’s will; especially those concerning Evelyn.

Tears of remorse are salty and bitter indeed!



Let Your Love Shape My Life


Psalm 119 (Pt.C)



  • Verses 25-32 – Deleth
  • David’s prayer continues; I am knocked to my knees by life, God, help me.
  • Remember, you promised to rescue me in my time of trouble?
  • When I told my story, you responded.
  • In Your great wisdom You are training me.
  • Help me to understand Your will for my life
  • Now, it feels like my life is falling apart, so build me up.
  • Block all the choices that I make that will lead to no good; let me make only good choices.
  • I grasp and cling to whatever You say; don’t let me down.
  • I’ll run whatever course You lay out for me, just give me the strength to do it
  • Teach me the difficult lessons of life so that I can stay on the course.

  • Verses 33-40- He
  • Give me the insights that I need, so that I may remain obedient my whole life.
  • Give me a bent for Your words of wisdom, not just for piling up loot in my life.
  • Divert my eyes from the distracting diversions of life.
  • Affirm Your promises to me; well actually, to all who love You.
  • Strengthen me on my pilgrim way.
  • Divert the harsh words of my critics.
  • Preserve my life through Your righteous ways.



Here is a word picture of a man who loves God, and is willing to give himself wholeheartedly to following His plan for his life.

I have prayed many times, a prayer that is not too dissimilar to this. Mine being, “Take my rotten messed up life and do what You will with it. If you can use it to help someone else, good for You! Where I am NOT the kind of person you want me to be, change me, because I can’t do that. I want that change, but it is beyond my power.”

Actually, I like the way The Message interprets this phrase, “Divert my eyes from the distracting diversions of life.” Would that we all could be praying this. Somewhere, I believe in the psalms, I remember the phrase, “Place a guard at my tongue, that I may speak only of your love.”

If only these two phrases were prayed more often, by more people, what a different world we could be living in! But, like so many good intensions, many, too many people are like me and forget to pray at all. Only a crises brings them to their knees before God.

Psalm 119 (D)



  • Verses 41-56- Waw
  • David’s prayer continues;
  • Let your love shape my life with salvation, so that I will be able to stand up to the mockery, because I have trusted You.
  • Don’t ever deprive me of truth, for it is Your commandments that I depend on.
  • I will build a fortress around my life with the wisdom and truth that You reveal to me.
  • I will speak out boldly in public, telling others what You have taught me.
  • I remember and hang on to these words that You have given me in counsel.
  • These promises rejuvenate me, though many ridicule me without mercy.
  • I won’t budge from Your revelation; when I see that I am following Your landmark words, I know that I’m on the right track.
  • I set Your words to music and sing them as I plod this pilgrim way.
  • Still, I walk through a storm of derision because of my efforts to live by Your word and counsel.
  • When I see others ignoring Your words, I am beside myself with distress.



When we read the stories of the life of David, all the killing, strange encounters with women and political intrigue, and etc. it is too easy to find fault with him, even in our age of political corruption.

Indeed, I have often marveled that God could have forgiven him, let alone called him a man after His own heart.

I’s not hard imagine that he DID have many detractors who mocked him for claiming to follow God, but was doing so many un-Godly things.

Even Bathsheba must have harbored some derision for this “God-fearing” man who would have her husband, one of his bodyguards, killed so that he could “save face” for impregnating her.

What he had tried to do in secret was made known to the whole nation in his day, emblazoned on the front page of the Hebrew National Inquirer, and made a part of the Israeli Public Record and thus made known to the whole world for generations to come. Every time they were seen together, people would be reminded of that evil deed. As soon as Solomon could read, he would have been made aware of his parents’ poor choice in each other.

As time progressed, God turned that National Inquirer-worthy news into a blessing; one in which He would bless not only the people of Israel, but the whole world, through their son Solomon.

Who knows, perhaps some of the stupid things, and poor choices, that I have made will be turned, by God, into something beautiful with eternal ramifications. At this point in my life, I know of no one who has been turned toward God because of what I have said or done.

That’s sad! But, perhaps God is blinding my eyes to keep me from getting a big-head. I would hope that is the case, and that many have been led to a deeper understanding of God’s purpose for their life through my words or actions… good or bad.