Growing up I was in 4-H and UMYF. In both of these groups, we learned camp songs. Interestingly these songs were basically the same.
You may remember them:
- John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt,
- Tell Me Why
- Row, Row, Row Your Boat
- He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands
And I know there are so many more.
We sang these when we were in fellowship with others. They were feel good songs, and we sang them loudly. We did not care if we were in tune or not. We just joined together without any reserve.
The psalms I assigned for the past several days were ““Songs of Ascent”” and some of them were very short, only a few lines long. These songs were sung by the pilgrims, the faithful while they journeyed to the temple up Mount Zion.
The “Songs of Ascent” are Psalms 120-134. The songs are full of praise, and many share a sense of unity in the deliverance from enemies and hardships.
But as I read them I can certainly ‘hear’ the people joining in singing robustly as they make the trip together just like a group of youngster sitting around a campfire.
The two images of groups singing popular songs once again points out that the words in the Bible are just as timely today as they were in ancient times. We are no different. We need to join together in praise and worship. We need God in our lives just as much now as ever.
My argument, then, is to read the “Songs of Ascent” and consider how the same gongs apply to our lives today. For me, I found these psalms uplifting and all too often we forget that our prayers can be thankful and joyful. Prayers do not always have to be repentance and supplication.
As I look back over these psalms that I have just completed studying, I can identify some of the key verses that speak to me. Praying the psalms includes sharing these words:
- Ps. 120: Deliver me, O Lord,
from lying lips,
from deceitful tongue. . . .
I am for peace;
but when I speak,
they are for war.
- Ps. 121: I lift up my eyes to the hills—
From where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth. . . .
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore.
- Ps.122: For the sake of my relatives and friends
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
- Ps. 123: Our help is in the name of the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
- Ps. 130: But there is forgiveness with you,
So that you may be revered.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in his word I hope . . .
. . . hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.
- Ps. 131: . . . hope in the Lord . . .
- Ps. 133: How very good and pleasant it is
When kindred live together in unity!
In closing the “Songs of Ascent” discussion, there are two thoughts. One is that Psalm 132 seems more prophetic as it includes the prophecy that God promised that a king or anointed one will lead the Jewish, i.e. faithful people. This is a prophecy of Jesus Christ. I find the words interesting in relation to the story we now know and is shared in the New Testament, but it does not read like the other “Songs of Ascent.”
To close the discussion there is one more thought. The excepts shared in this posting can be separate prayers, but they can also be inspirational statements. One final psalm is Psalm 134, and as short as it is, it can be used as a prayer of benediction. Please join me:
Ps. 134: Praise in the Night
Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
Who stand by night in the house of the Lord!
Lift up your hands to the holy place
And bless the Lord.
May the Lord, maker of heaven and earth,
Bless you from Zion.
And as you move through the coming days, let your heart be filled with gladness and may the camp songs of your memory fill you with joy.