Songs of Praise and Despair
Psalm 33:1-3 These verses capture the joyful spirit of praise and worship in many of the psalms, and remind us of David’s musical skills (see 1 Samuel 16:14-23).
“Sing to the LORD, you who do what is right; honest people should praise him. Praise the LORD on the harp; make music for him on a ten-stringed lyre. Sing a new song to him; play well and joyfully.”
"Praise the LORD on the harp" (Psalm 33:2)
Psalm 42:1-4 This psalm - dedicated to the Sons of Korah - describes the spiritual thirst of pilgrims journeying to the Temple in Jerusalem, built by King Solomon between 968 and 961BC (see 1 Kings 8:65-66).
“As a deer thirsts for streams of water, so I thirst for you, God. I thirst for the living God. When can I go to meet with him? Day and night, my tears have been my food. People are always saying, ‘Where is your God?’ When I remember these things, I speak with a broken heart. I used to walk with the crowd and lead them to God's Temple with songs of praise.”
Psalm 48:1-2 Another psalm dedicated to the Sons of Korah celebrates the magnificence of Solomon’s Temple (see 1 Kings 8:1-13).
“The LORD is great; he should be praised in the city of our God, on his holy mountain. It is high and beautiful, and brings joy to the whole earth. Mount Zion is like the high mountains of the north; It is the city of the Great King.”
"Mount Zion is like the high mountains of the north" (Psalm 48:2) (Andrew Behesnilian)
Psalm 51:1-3 This psalm records David’s remorse and plea for forgiveness following his adultery with Bathsheeba in 997BC (see 2 Samuel 12:1-20).
"God, be merciful to me because you are loving. Because you are always ready to be merciful, wipe out all my wrongs. Wash away all my guilt and make me clean again. I know about my wrongs, and I can't forget my sin.”
Psalm 72:8-11 This psalm celebrates the successes of Israel and Judah under King Solomon (970-930BC) (see 1 Kings 10:1-29).
“Let his kingdom go from sea to sea, and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth. Let the people of the desert bow down to him, and make his enemies lick the dust. Let he kings of Tarshish and the faraway lands bring him gifts. Let the kings of Sheba and Seba bring their presents to him. Let all kings bow down to him and all nations serve him.”
A number of the psalms were written specifically for Jewish pilgrims journeying to the Temple in Jerusalem for the annual Passover festival or another of the great pilgrim feasts.
Psalm 84 - dedicated to the Sons of Korah - reflects the joyful anticipation of the faithful as they travel up to the Temple in Jerusalem.
“LORD All-powerful, how lovely is your Temple! I want more than anything to be in the courtyards of the LORD's Temple. My whole being wants to be with the living God.” (Psalm 84:1-2)
Psalm 100 is another pilgrim song whose words record the end of the journey to Jerusalem.
“Come into his city with songs of thanksgiving and into his courtyards with songs of praise. Thank him and praise his name.” (Psalm 100:4)
In Psalm 118, the pilgrims enter Jerusalem singing
“This is the LORD's gate; only those who are good may enter through it … This is the day that the LORD has made. Let us rejoice and be glad today… God bless the one who comes in the name of the LORD. We bless all of you from the Temple of the LORD.” (Psalm 118:20-26)
“This is the LORD's gate" (Psalm 118:20) (Herwig Reidlinger)
In another of the ‘songs of ascent’ (Psalm 122), the pilgrims celebrate their arrival at the Temple during one of the religious festivals.
“I was happy when they said to me, ‘Let's go to the Temple of the LORD.’ Jerusalem, we are standing at your gates. Jerusalem is built as a city with the buildings close together. The tribes go up there, the tribes who belong to the LORD. It is the rule in Israel to praise the LORD at Jerusalem.” (Psalm 122:1-4)
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