jesus fish

November 29, 2012

I call on the Lord in my distress

Filed under: Old Testament, Songs of Ascents — Karen @ 5:53 pm

There are some books that stay with you forever. I read Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction when I was in college. It is a book that I have turned to again and again over the past 30 years.

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

The Songs of Ascents were sung by pilgrims as they made the journey to Jerusalem. Deuteronomy 16:16 mandated that all adult males present themselves at the Temple during three feast days each year: the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Psalms 120 – 134 were sung as pilgrims made the trip up to Jerusalem.

Psalm 120 starts with a hesitant praise (I will call on the Lord. And you haven’t forgotten about all the liars out there, right? Just checking). Present day travelers feel the same ambiguity. The anticipation of reaching our destination is countered by worry over everything that could go wrong along the way.

I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me.
Save me, Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues.

Psalms 120:1-2

Unlike the trivial inconveniences of modern road trips in our air-conditioned chariots, the pilgrimage to Jerusalem was truly dangerous. It is hard to appreciate the risks undertaken by those who set off on this long and arduous path. There was no guarantee that you would reach your destination. No promise of a warm hotel room at the end of the journey. No certainty that you would arrive with self and stuff intact. The Songs of Ascents served as a prayer in transit. A prayer for dangerous times.


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