Psalms 129 Commentary

Psalms 129-131 Preparing for worship

Thinking back on the sorrows of Israel’s history, the travellers recall that ever since the days of the nation’s ‘youth’ in Egypt, Israel has had suffering. The backs of the people had been whipped when they were slaves, but God cut the cords that bound them in slavery and set them free (129:1-4). Now again they are troubled by those who hate them. They pray that God will turn back their enemies and make


them as useless as stalks of grass that wither and die in the sun (5-7). Left without friends, their enemies will have no one to help them (8).

A sense of their own sinfulness overcomes the travellers as they approach the temple. They know that they need forgiveness, for no person in a sinful condition can stand before the holy God in his temple (130:1-4). They wait for the assurance of God’s forgiveness with the same longing as watch men on night duty wait for the light of dawn (5-6). But all the time they have a quiet confidence that God, in his love, will forgive them (7-8).

Realizing that they are forgiven, the grateful worshippers are now ready to enter God’s temple in holy worship. The importance of the occasion fills them with such a sense of awe that they are genuinely humbled before God. They confess that they cannot understand all about God and his ways, though at the same time they rest in the knowledge of his nearness and comfort (131:1-3).

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