Read: Psalms 120-123
We Michiganders are fond of going “up north.” We say that because “north” is “up” on the map.
Scripture often refers to people going “up to Jerusalem,” but they said “up” because Jerusalem is situated on a high hill. Regardless of where they started according to the compass, people had to go “up” to reach Jerusalem.
That physical reality grew to have symbolic meaning as the Jews traveled to Jerusalem for festivals and temple worship. Psalms 120-134 became known as “Songs of Ascent” because of the physical “uphill” travel. Some would also consider the fact that God has (or should have) a position of high authority in our minds and hearts.
Not simply celebration
These songs represent a variety of human mood and attitude. While one might think that traveling to the temple would always be a joyous occasion, the psalmists were honest when things weren’t exactly “happy.” (Who among us is not aware of the challenges to get the family to Sunday worship without some kind of “distress”?)
As in Psalm 120, it’s good for us to be honest with God about our feelings; he knows the truth, regardless! But look for the ways in which the psalmists still find a worthwhile encounter with Him!
Looking “up” in more ways than one
As noted earlier, these psalms are called “songs of ascent” because of the physical trip up the hill to Jerusalem. But many of the psalms also note the spiritual trip “up,” as God is “enthroned in the heavens” (Psalm 123:1).
Even during the tough times, God is seen as a source of help and deliverance. While the original context of the Psalms was Jewish worship in Jerusalem, may we look for application of our worship of a God whom we can encounter on a daily basis in real life!