A SONG OF ASCENTS.
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. 2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore. 3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong. 4 Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts! 5 But those who turn aside to their crooked ways the LORD will lead away with evildoers! Peace be upon Israel!
A few thoughts for meditation:
1) As the worshiper enjoys his time at the feast in Jerusalem we can imagine him reflecting upon the important symbols of the context. In this case, he looks around at the city of Jerusalem surrounded by mountains. The mountains contributed to the defense and security of the city. The city sat on the high ground, which always provides a military advantage to the defenders. This picture gave the worshiper an image of how God protects his people. He surrounds them like the mountains, making it much harder for the wicked to achieve their purpose at corrupting or oppressing the people of God.
2) From this point he reflects on the inability of the wicked to completely conquer the people of God. “The scepter of wicked shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous”. The specific situation in mind is not clear. It may refer to a foreign invasion. Or it may refer to a corrupt king within Israel. The wicked may try to prevail and do a lot of damage in the process, but ultimately God will protect and preserve his people, and bring the wicked to justice. This judgment is not only an act of protection, but it is also helps deter God’s people from following the example of the wicked. People often interpret a delay in judgment as a sign that judgment will never come against sin. The righteous must never be deceived by that foolish notion.
3) Finally, the psalmist called upon God to bless and protect those who strive to be faithful under those difficult influences. And he also warned the people that if they give in to the temptations of the wicked, they would eventually perish with them when the day of deliverance comes. This prayer culminated in a final petition, “Peace be upon Israel”. The community of God’s people was suppose to be a place of refuge for the righteous not a place of oppression. And in time, God would indeed purify his people and remove the oppressive elements from within them. So there is a parallel call to action here; first a call to personal faithfulness even when it is not easy, and second a call to pray for peace within God’s people. We must always labor for the purity and peace of the church, but do so knowing that ultimately God is the one who ensures our labors for these things are not in vain.