Dwelling in Calm amidst Conflict
“Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace.”
Read & Respond: This week we are studying Psalm 120, which deals with movement. Psalm 120 is known as a “Song of Ascent” because Israelites would sing Psalm 120 on their way “up” to Jerusalem three times a year for holy days, using song as a way of remembering God’s faithfulness (sort of like our Christmas carols).[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][tweetthis]Military life is a life of movement. You are either moving, just moved or getting ready to move. [/tweetthis]
During my husband’s 23-year career in the USN Presidential Band we never experienced a change of duty station because he was a part of a permanent unit. Yes, we know we are a very odd military family. However during this same period we relocated 9 times and lived in 3 different states. Why? We moved quarters as our family size increased, my husband advanced in rank, and each installation we lived on started renovations, lol! But we saw many of our friends and neighbors move from one part of the globe to another. Often they would return and yep, we were still there! Our moves have been largely happy, but not so for the author of Psalm 120. Perhaps you can relate.
Psalm 120 was obviously written by a warrior, a military man, or someone under attack – whether personal or political or both. In verse 6 we see the first mention of a dwelling place and it’s not in a good way: Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace. I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war!” Have you ever felt that way: “Lord, I’m trying to be peaceable here. I’m trying to get along with these impossible people but it’s not working. I need your HELP!”? Lord, I’m surrounded by those who are against you!
This Psalm is inverted. Instead of starting with “woe is me” and ending with “wow is God,” it ends with distress. So we have to go back to the beginning to see God’s solution to man’s problems. Verses 1 and 2 give us guidance:
I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me.
Save me, Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues.
Two weeks ago we talked about personal integrity. This week’s psalm talks about being surrounded by people who have none. In dealing with difficult people and seemingly impossible situations, our first recourse should be to call on God’s Black Ops rescue. And, like the psalmist, be honest with God!
Core Concept: Cry out honestly to God when dealing with impossible people.
Think About It:
- How many times have you moved in military life? Have these been good experiences?
- Where are you most likely to deal with people who lack integrity?
- How honest are you with God? Do you tend to complain deeply but pray superficially?
This Week’s Praise & Worship Prompts:
Day 1: Find Safe Shelter in God’s Character
Read Psalm 120. Journal any thoughts/prayers/questions you may have as you read the passage. Begin memorizing verse 7. When you think of a safe place, how would you describe it to someone? When you are in an unsafe dwelling place, what exactly do you fear? How do you ask God to remove you from an unsafe dwelling place or unsafe people? Many songwriters have put this short psalm to music. Sing!
Day 2: Go Up
Read Psalm 120:1. Here we see very declarative words that are used to bring us into the place of the Psalmist. Look at the words used, “call and distressed.” These are earnest pleas for help. When you read the words “call and distressed” are you reminded of any “songs of ascent” you are currently singing? Do you need to “go up” to a new dwelling place? If so, write why and use verse 1 as a prayer for today.
Day 3: Honesty with God
Read Psalm 120:2-3. Here we see the song has become quite specific. There has been an offense that the Psalmist feels very strongly about to the point of pleading for judgement and retribution. Read Luke 18:7. Your God stands ever ready to bring satisfaction in the form of justice to those who love Him. Write the words, “distressed and justice” in the margin of your Bible or journal.
Day 4: Find Your Battle Cry
Read Psalm 120: 4-5. Here we see the song has ramped up even more, like a battle cry as the writer is surrounded by literal foreigners or figurative barbarians. The words, “punish, woe is me, burning coals, warrior’s sharp arrows” paint a real picture of urgency in the heart of the Psalmist. How often have you sung along with your iPod to the point that you are louder than the song playing? Every time I hear “Amazing Grace” I sing along loudly but I usually am thinking of the losses I have endured over the course of my life, because “Amazing Grace” is often a song for funerals. But, when I am working out and singing along with my iPod it’s usually Big Daddy Weave or Kirk Franklin and I am rocking the song with great passion because it gives me needed energy to get through my workout! What songs come to mind that you sing for one reason or another such as comfort, prayer time and personal worship? Get your iPod, Spotify, Pandora or go old school and get out your CD player and pump it up! Sing your song of ascent to your LORD – He is listening!
Day 5: God is Our Source of Peace
Read Psalm 120:6-7. Here we see the Psalmist bring this song to a close. It is revealed that the Psalmist is in a desperate dwelling place because of those he is dwelling with and rescue is the order of the day. Today as you read and reflect, consider your current dwelling place. What surrounds you? Are you yourself in need of a Black Ops rescue? What steps will you take to examine your dwelling place with an open heart to understand what God will reveal to you? What does “peace” as referred to in this Psalm mean to you? What do you currently have in your dwelling place that may be impeding your peace and what steps are you willing to take to bring peace to your dwelling place?
Talk About It: Where are you dwelling today? Is it a place built by God or a place from which you need God’s Black Ops rescue and how do you know the difference?
Download this week’s material here