Faith: A Matter of the Heart - Ps. 125
"Our help is in the Name of the Lord!" (Ps. 124:8). It's one thing to proclaim it, quite another to embrace it, to trust it, to live it. Yet Psalm 125 contains a special blessing for those who choose to live out their faith, ascending into God's presence in their daily lives. Let's examine it.
Those who trust in the LORD are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds His people from this time forth and forever. For 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. Do good, O LORD, to those who are good and to those who are upright in their hearts. But 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.
While Zion may mean parched place, Psalm 48:1-3 explains that it is the "city of our God, His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion in the far north, the city of the great King. God in her palaces, has made Himself known as a stronghold." What man may describe as dry and potentially lifeless is sanctified by the presence of Almighty God, who becomes our unshakeable fortress and a place where joy abounds! It is this eternal abode promised to those who will trust in the LORD! Just as we described the topography of Jerusalem in Psalm 121, so God inscribes His name upon and surrounds those who will put their confidence and faith in Him. This, in turn, brings about stability in the life of the believer. But wait! There's more!
The land of those who choose to trust in the LORD is protected, surrounded by the rule and counsel of God! Psalm 125 mentions the "scepter of wickedness." This phrase has the connotation of the mark of authority or the shaft of a spear, which can find no haven in the lives of the righteous person living by faith. The believer's center of decision-making is not found in what the wicked are doing, but in the fact that God rules their lives, the Maker of Heaven and Earth is intricately involved in their well-being. The image is that of pebbles marking boundary lines, and the LORD has set limits to the enemy's work in His people's lives. These boundaries prevent us from engaging with the enemy's plans in our land, whether unjust, evil, or wrong. Our natural inclination as humans is to balk at anything that prevents us from doing what we want to do, but believers' lives are characterized by humility and trust in God to set the borderlines for their lives.
In addition, the children of Israel speak God's blessing of good upon those who are "upright in their heart." Faith is a heart issue that transforms our character, informing our decisions and purifying our motives. Upon these, the blessing of the Lord's favor and delight rests. What a lovely picture as opposed to those who purposefully choose to walk deviously along winding roads by reaching out their hands toward their fleshly desires. These, the Songs affirm, God leads with the wicked.
The Apostle Paul reiterates this idea that God gives people over to their vain imaginings in Romans, chapter one, verses 18-32, when he states, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness… professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image…Therefore, God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity." Cravings of the flesh come from the heart, which Jeremiah states are desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). A transformation of nature occurs in the heart of the faithful, who then step into the purposes and protection of our loving Creator.
Psalm 125 ends with a blessing of peace, shalom. When we choose to trust the LORD, we become complete. Our lives are filled with friendship, soundness, and tranquility. The world's noise in its current state is constantly attempting to cancel any peace we would find in our hearts. Let us remind ourselves that Christ, our Savior, in whom we trust, gifted us something precious before His ascent to the Father. "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." The very peace that Jesus walked in upon the earth belongs to those who walk by faith. This peace is noticeable to the world because it does not act as anything they understand or know. It is a peace of heart, mind, and soul, knowing that, as this Psalm so beautifully expresses, the Lord Himself surrounds us, individually and corporately. He is our peace!