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Psalm 125

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Lord Surrounds His People
MT Intro
A Song of Ascents,
of David
The Lord, the Strength of His People Prayer for Deliverance from National Enemies
(A Lament)
The Security of God's People God Protects His Faithful
125:1-3 125:1-2 125:1-5 125:1-2 125:1-2
  125:3   125:3-5b 125:3
125:4-5 125:4     125:4
  125:5a-c     125:5a-b
      125:5c 125:5c
  125:5d      

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 125:1-3
 1Those who trust in the Lord
 Are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever.
 2As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
 So the Lord surrounds His people
 From this time forth and forever.
 3For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest upon the land of the righteous,
 So that the righteous will not put forth their hands to do wrong.

125:1a "Those who trust in the Lord" This is the key condition of biblical faith. The concept is recurrent in the Psalter (BDB 105, KB 120, cf. Ps. 9:10; 21:7; 22:4-5; 25:2; 26:1; 28:7; 32:10; 37:3; 40:4; 55:23; 56:4,11; 62:8; 84:12; 91:2; 112:7; 115:9,10,11; 125:1; 143:8). Often the same concept is expressed as

1. trust in the name - Ps. 33:21

2. trust in the mercy - Ps. 13:5; 52:8

3. trust in the word - Ps. 119:42

4. trust in the salvation - Ps. 78:22

The theologically related word for trust (BDB 52) is explained in the Special Topic: Believe, Trust, Faith and Faithfulness in the OT. The Greek counterpoint is explained in the SPECIAL TOPIC: Believe, Trust in the NT.

I have come to believe there are several basic elements to a true and mature biblical faith/trust.

1. repentance (see SPECIAL TOPIC: REPENTANCE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT)

2. faith/trust/believe

3. obedience (see Special Topic: Keep)

4. perseverance (see SPECIAL TOPIC: PERSEVERANCE)

 

125:1b To see the full theological note and two Special Topics about these promises to national Israel, see my note at Ps. 122:6-9.

The LXX makes this line of poetry refer to YHWH (i.e., "he who inhabits Jerusalem will never be shaken"). Apparently this comes from the title of YHWH in Ps. 9:11.

125:2 The imagery of "mountains" is used in several senses (see note at Ps. 121:1). Here it refers to the protection they provide from invaders. YHWH is the shield and protector of His people!

▣ "forever" The term (BDB 761) is used in Ps. 125:1 and 2. It has several connotations related to covenant fidelity. See Special Topic: Forever ('olam).

125:3 "the scepter" This (BDB 986) is a metaphor for kingship (i.e., YHWH as King, cf. Ps. 45:6). It is first used in a Messianic sense in Gen. 49:10 of a future Judean, Davidic (cf. 2 Samuel 7) king. Here of the promise that no (1) foreign king or (2) idolatrous Judean king shall reign over God's people. It is obvious this promise is conditional (i.e., Ps. 125:3b,4).

The time frame of Ps. 125:3 is uncertain. 

1. the enemy now controls Israel (present)

2. the enemy did control Israel (past)

3. the enemy will never control Israel (future)

 

▣ "of wickedness" This could refer to

1. a foreign pagan ruler

2. an idolatrous Israelite ruler

It denotes one who deviates from YHWH's covenant requirements.

NASB "shall not rest upon the land"
NRSV, JPSOA,
REB"the land allotted"
TEV"will not always rule over the land"
NJB"will not come to rest over the heritage"
LXX"over the allotment"

The Hebrew has a preposition and a noun (BDB 174), which denotes an inheritance. The imagery comes from Joshua's (i.e., Joshua 12-19) account of the Divinely-guided division of the land of Canaan to the Hebrew tribes by casting lots (cf. Ps. 16:5).

▣ "the righteous" See Special Topic: Righteousness.

▣ "hands" See SPECIAL TOPIC: HAND.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 125:4-5
 4Do good, O Lord, to those who are good 

And to those who are upright in their hearts.
 5But as for those who turn aside to their crooked ways,
 The Lord will lead them away with the doers of iniquity.
 Peace be upon Israel.

125:4 "Do good" This is a Hiphil imperative(BDB 405, KB 408). God is "good" (BDB 373 II, cf. Ps. 86:5; 100:5; 106:1) and His people should reflect Him (cf. Deut. 8:16).

Both Hebrew words for "good" are used in this verse.

125:5 Notice how Ps. 125:4-5 characterizes two kinds of people ("to those who. . ."). This is known as "the two ways" (cf. Deut. 30:15,19; Ps. 1:1). One's relationship with God can be seen by the way he/she lives life (cf. Matt. 7:15-23)! Eternal life has observable characteristics!

▣ "crooked ways" A crooked way (BDB 785) is the exact opposite of the righteous way (cf. Ps. 5:8; 139:24; 143:10).

Notice the parallel ways of describing people.

1. "those who are good"

2. "those who are upright in heart"

3. "those who turn aside to their crooked ways"

4. "the doers of iniquity"

 

▣ "Peace be upon Israel" Peace can be upon only a believing, faithful, righteous Israel. In the NT this refers to followers of Jesus Christ (cf. Gal. 6:16). Also note Rom. 2:28-29; 9:6; Gal. 3:7,29; Phil. 3:3! The OT must be interpreted through the fuller revelation of Jesus and the NT!

The God of Peace and the Prince of Peace desire peace for those who trust them! See Special Topic: Peace (shalom).