“Those who trust in the LORD are like
This Song of Ascent is a hymn perfumed with the confidence of a fresh revelation of salvation. There is such a strong allegiance here; the disciple(s) with their Lord.
Set possibly at the time of the encampment of Sennacherib of Assyria (701 BCE) against King Hezekiah, this is a remarkable portrayal of Jewish faith as they were surrounded by the enemy. Such was their buoyancy in God the fact they were surrounded merely highlighted, for them, how interminably the Lord surrounds his people (verse 2).
Imagine a confidence that would rise up in the midst of tyranny.
The Permanence of Their Assurance
The very first verse is commanding in its rigid allegiance to the theology of faithfulness to the Lord.
They know that trust is central. Everything of faith remits through the permanence of trust. “Trust and not be moved” is the message. Any time we have employed such confidence—with a degree of permanence—we truly have become unbeatable.
The psalm opens with this cool strength and maintains righteousness as an alliance through to the concluding verse 5 on peace. Here, again, righteousness and peace are linked (see also, for instance, Isaiah 32:17, Psalm 85:10, Hebrews 12:11 and James 3:18).
The Righteous Shall Not Be Tempted
The third verse propounds with power an important faith principle differentiating the righteous from the wicked. The former will not be sucked into wrongdoing, just as the latter shall not find rest in the land (or dominion) that is allotted to the righteous.
Likewise, our dominions are safe when we present as trusting in the Lord. Why should we be threatened by the nasty injustices that encamp around us? Trust is patience to see those bringing the injustices fall.
Verse 4 carries forward a plea: the righteous seek just reward for their diligent obedience. How else are they to know that they are on God’s anointed path? A key part of the faith construct—even now—is, “Will I be blessed as a result of my obedience?”
The righteous shall not be tempted provided blessing comes to them. The true righteous shall not be tempted, period. But who can claim a portion of goodness that pure?
The experience of blessing is important. Firstly, it rewards faith—the trust we may not ordinarily display. Secondly, it is part of our humanity to seek confirmation that we are on a wise path—the rewards (which vary from person to person) are what we perform for.
What a beautiful contrast: God’s people saved and safe, never fearing upon attack, always resolute in trust, and the despatching of evildoers that will not go that way. The Lord’s way is blessing; any other way will be distressing.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.