Psalm 120

Psalm 120

A Psalm of Ascent

Running to God

in times of


This page contains a simple commentary.


I will present

an introduction to the topic:

During Old Testament times,

all 150 psalms were

put to music and sung to God

by Jewish worshippers.

Psalm 120-134 are called

Songs of Ascent.

The word “ascent” means to go up in elevation. 

Jerusalem is higher in elevation

than the

surrounding area.

The Songs of Ascent

were a group of psalms

that Jewish worshippers

(who didn't live in Jerusalem)


three times every year 

as they journeyed to Israel


Passover, Pentecost, and the

Feast of Tabernacles

Deuteronomy 16:16

Exodus 23:17

Leviticus 23:5-8

They were also probably sung

by all the worshippers in Jerusalem

as they ascended the stairs

to the temple area

for those celebrations.

This psalm

appears to be a personal lament

of the psalmist.


since this psalm is included 

in the

Psalms of Ascent,

it shows that 

they have application to 

Israel as a whole.

~ ~ ~

Below is a recent example of this


being put to music.

Psalm 120

King James Version

Verse 1

In my distress

I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me.

This appears to be speaking of past distresses.

The psalmist is remembering

past distresses

and the faithfulness of God.

Verse 2

2 Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips,

and from a deceitful tongue.

Verse 2 exposes the root of the current distress

which is

lying and deceitfulness against the psalmist.

Verses 3-4

3 What shall be given unto thee?

or what shall be done unto thee,

thou false tongue?

4 Sharp arrows of the mighty,

with coals of juniper.

In verses 3-4,

the psalmist is reminding himself

that lying and deceitfulness

will be punished by God at some point.

The psalmist pictures

the wicked lies and deceptive schemes 

as sharp arrows and as coals of juniper.

We see this type of illustration in 

Psalm 57:4 NKJV

which says:

My soul is among lions:
I lie among the sons of men
Who are set on fire,
Whose teeth are spears and arrows,
And their tongue a sharp sword.

If we think about it,

we can understand why 

lies and deceptive schemes

are like sharp arrows.

But what about the coals of Juniper?

Coals of the juniper -

is also translated

Coals of the broom plant / tree.

The juniper or broom tree

was used

by Arabs of that time

to make a charcoal that burned very hot

and burned for a long time.

Proverbs 16:27 says,

An ungodly man diggeth up evil:

and in his lips there is

as a burning fire.

The psalmist also pictures

what God will do to them

as coming with

sharp arrows and coals of juniper.

The psalmist is saying,

"For these deeds, you are going to get

an extremely harsh


one day."

Bible verses for more clarity:

Tongue as an arrow: Jeremiah 9:8-9

Arrows: Proverbs 26:18-19

Words are arrows and swords: Psalm 57:4

Tongue as a fire: James 3:6


Sharp arrows of God:

Ps. 64:7-8, Ps. 7:11-13, Ps. 18:13-14, Ps. 144:6, Deuteronomy 32:23-27, Lamentations 3:12-13

Verse 5

5 Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech,

that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!

This verse lets us know

that he is forced

to live

among these people

who are giving him so much grief.

Mesech - Genesis 10:2 -  son of Japheth
These people are offspring of Noah's son, Japheth.

These are Gentiles.

Kedar - Genesis 25:13 - He is the second son of Ishmael. 

The Arabs are the offspring of Ishmael.

Ishmael is one of the sons of Abraham.

Arabs are Arab Gentiles. 

The world is divided up into Jews and Gentiles.

Gentiles are made up of Arabs and non-Arab people.

Christians are made up of Jews and Gentiles who have repented and given their life to Jesus Christ.

Shem is one of the sons of Noah.

Jews and Arabs are the offspring of Shem.

Abraham is of the line of Shem.

Abraham's son Isaac produced the Jews.

Abraham's son Ishmael produced the Arabs.

So, here we see that the Kedar people are the offspring of Ishmael. They would be included in the people who are the Arabs of today. 

~ ~ ~

This psalm was applicable to individuals at that time and it is applicable to every time in history.

This psalm is also applicable to

the nation of Israel.

And - 

This is also an "end time" psalm.

This psalm predicts that one day Israel
will have to
dwell among Arab peoples
who are angry with the Jews.

We might be living in those "end time" days.

It predicts that people
from Mesech
- which includes the area of present-day Turkey -
will be lying about them and to them.

Interestingly, only a couple of years ago
the country of Turkey was a friend to Israel.

It has only been in the last couple of years that Turkey has become an enemy to Israel.

"End time" Scriptures tell us that
the country of Turkey
will be against Israel in the end days.

Please note:

Many Arab people are not hostile,

and in addition,

there are many Arab people

who have accepted


as their personal Savior.

So this does not mean that "every" Arab person

is being referenced.

Verse 6

6 My soul hath long dwelt with him

that hateth peace.

Here the psalmist is saying that

he has been dealing

for a long, long time

with people who consider him an enemy.

That verse paints a picture

in my mind



frustration and  fatigue.

If you are dealing with a situation of

frustration, fatigue, or weariness,

consider our pages: 

Prayers for the Weary

Psalm 70 - Lord, Rescue me!

Verse 7

7 I am for peace:

but when I speak, they are for war.

No matter how hard the psalmist tries,

his efforts are fruitless.

Most of us have experienced this.

Most of us have known someone who just wanted to create strife and enmity.

Some people just want conflict.


no matter how much we want to get along

with everyone,

some people just don't want to cooperate.

Romans 12:18 says,

"If it is possible, as much as depends on you,

live peaceably with all men.

Consider our Prayer Pages:

Prayer Against Strife


Prayer for my Enemies

Romans 12:17-20

expands on God's thoughts

about this kind of situation.

Here is the NKJV version:

17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.

18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you,

live peaceably with all men.

19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves,

but rather give place to wrath;

for it is written,

“Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;

If he is thirsty, give him a drink;

For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil,

but overcome evil with good.

Before Jesus comes back,

times will get worse for Israel.

Many powerful Arab nations are made up of leadership that hates the country of Israel.

Israel is not a perfect nation or a perfect people.


Israel is the only nation in the middle east

where people of all faiths can live together

with freedom to worship as they choose.

End Time Thoughts

Note that we have a page that discusses some

"end time" thoughts and information.

When I looked up Meshech and found that it was in

the area of Turkey,

it was another clue that

this was an "end time" psalm -

meaning it has "end time" meaning

not just

personal meaning to us as we read it.

Notice that

all the 7 churches in Revelation

(chapters 2 through 3)

are located in Turkey.

That seems to indicate that Turkey

will be very active in "end time" activities.

Recently world news

has reported on Turkey destroying churches.

Certain people enjoy stirring up strife and trouble.

People who have the

"D" personality style 

are often seen as




Learning about the personality styles

can help us gain strategies

to avoid strife.


Consider our other Psalm pages!

Info on New Pages

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Daily Inspiration

Springtime Prayer for my Friend

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New Page:

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