Psalm 125 Sermon – Psalms of Ascent

Week six of the 15 week Psalms of Ascent sermon series – 120-134 using Eugene Peterson’s “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction” as a reference.  Feel free to preach in its entirety or any parts of it. Make it your own. (At the end, I sang and the congregation sang over and over ‘Nothing but the blood of Jesus’)

My help does not come from the mountains, but from the one who made the mountains.

We need help. Our Help is the maker of the mountains.

Psalm 125 Begins with those who trust in the Lord are like the mountains.

1. Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever.


Our help does not come from us.

2. As the mountains surround Jerusalem – the Lord surrounds His people.

Being surrounded my mountains offers protection – think about rains – often times locals here talk about how often rains stay on the other side of the mountains.

Short Gap – gap in the mountains.

3. The scepter of wickedness shall not rest upon the land alloted to the righteous. Let the righteous reach out their hand to inequity.

Peterson in the Message paraphrases it this way:

The fist of the wicked
will never violate
What is due the righteous,
provoking wrongful violence.

There is a group and then two sub groups –

The first group is everyone – the rain falls on the just and the unjust. Everyone has problems. Everyone has trials. You cannot tell based on the disasters that come into lives whether someone is a Christian or not.

Wickedness shall not rest upon us… It comes and goes, but it never stays.

The Message finishes paraphrasing the Psalm this way:

Where the Scripture says, Be good, Lord, to those who are good and are upright in their hearts…. Petersons hears it as: Be good to your good people, God, to those whose hearts are right!

As for such as turn aside to their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them away with the workers of inequity… Peace be upon Israel!
Peterson says it this way: God will round up the backsliders, corral them with the incorrigibles.
Peace over Israel!

God has not given me a lot more to break down about the Psalm itself.

Two things I want to focus on – Two of the biggest misconceptions about Christianity.

First is this idea of safety for God’s people.

We act surprised when Christians get cancer or lose their jobs. Or when a loved one dies. We act as if Christians do not have to have to live through the same the bad things that are in this world that non-Christians have to deal with.

Like the mountains surround Jerusalem, the Lord surrounds His people. What do we think when we hear that? It means protection, right? Protection from what? Well, what does anyone NEED protection from? From sickness? From slander? From harm?

The difficulty in this kind of thinking is that God often sends us right in to the midst of places where these things are bound to happen to us. – He sends missionaries in to places where preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ is illegal.

He sent Rev. Dan Taylor and his family and now David and Andrea Ziler into the most difficult part of Cumberland through the Union Rescue Mission. Funny story about some friends from Mason County who came to visit us here years ago. Took them into the tunnel under the road near the mission. The woman who was with us said, “Oh, look a penny!” She bent down to pick up the penny, and I yelled NOOOOOO. That liquid around the penny is likely not water.

There is talk about good and righteous people and then those who are crooked and workers of inequity.

the idea that the rain falls on the just and the unjust – But the devil really wants to get God’s people sidetracked.

For Believers – God always makes a way of escape.

1 Corinthians 10:12-13: So the one who thinks he is standing firm should be careful not to fall. No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide a way out so that you may be able to bear it. ~

(Peterson in The Message: “He knows when to say ‘enough is enough’”.)

Danger and oppression are never too much for faith. We are secure not because we are sure of ourselves, but because we trust that God is sure of us. The Psalm begins: “Those who trust in the Lord”

And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith would not fail. And when you have returned to me, strengthen your brethren. ~ Luke 22

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion. It cannot be shaken; it remains forever.

What does the God most want to protect you from? Protection from losing your faith. So the things God allows are things He desires to strengthen our faith. I often say in the fiery trials – in the deep valleys – “God what are you trying to teach me? How are you trying to form me? What are you doing in me?”

Matt and Cara in Haiti – God brought them back to the US to find out their daughter was diabetic – blood sugar in the 700’s if I remember correctly. Very dangerous. He chose not to prevent the diabetes, but He also chose to have them in country so they could go to the children’s hospital. His hand was all over it. And their faith was stronger after her treatment than before.

Second – this idea of good people vs. bad people. Righteous vs. unrighteous.

That anyone goes to heaven because they are good.

Verse 4 – Do good to those who are good. And those who are upright in their heart.

You are not going to make it to heaven by being a GOOD PERSON.

Who is good?

Romans 3:9-10

“What then? Are we any better? Not at all. For we have already made the charge that Jews and Greeks alike are all under sin. There is none righteous, no, not one.”

Was the thief on the cross a good person? No. What did he say? He looked across Jesus hanging between them at the other thief and said, “Why are you talking to this innocent man this way? We deserve this punishment, but He doesn’t. And Jesus said, I tell you the truth, today you shall be with me in paradise.

Good people do not go to heaven. Forgiven people do.

What makes us righteous? What cleanses us from our sin?

  • What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
  • What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

  • For my pardon, this I see, Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
    For my cleansing this my plea, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
  • Nothing can for sin atone, Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
    Naught of good that I have done, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

  • This is all my hope and peace, Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
    This is all my righteousness, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
  • Now by this I’ll overcome— Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
    Now by this I’ll reach my home— Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
  • Glory! Glory! This I sing— Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
    All my praise for this I bring— Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.