This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.
Meditation on Psalm 120: 2,6,7
"I Am for Peace"
Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue…My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace. I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.
Psalms 120- 134 are titled, “Song of Degrees” or “Song of Ascents”. The fifteen psalms are called the “Pilgrimage Songs”, sung as God’s people would travel to Jerusalem for the three great feasts of the old covenant religious calendar. How fitting they are for all believers in this world. We journey through the week, looking forward to Sunday when we can go to church to hear the gospel of peace. All of our life is a pilgrimage, with eager expectation to the time when God delivers us from this vale of tears to the Jerusalem which is above. In this pilgrimage, we sing songs of pilgrimage.
When we stand for God and His kingdom, we can expect to be slandered by a world that is opposed to God and his Word. But how sad it is when the slander and hatred come from those of our own household. If this psalm was written by David, he knew the slander of those from whom he should not expect it. Having fought battles for King Saul, David was forced to flee as King Saul sought to kill him as a troubler of Israel. Later in his life, David fled from the wrath of his own son, Absalom. Absalom presented himself to the people as one who would judge them and give them justice over against his father who was getting too old or careless. In this way, Absolom stole the hearts of the men of Israel ( I Sam. 15:4-6). Absalom lied to his father, telling him that he wanted to fulfil a vow made in Hebron to serve the Lord. But instead he gathered a strong conspiracy against his father.
Slander and lies bring disharmony, hostility, and opposition. Over against this, the Psalmist said, “I am for peace.” He desired peace with God, peace with his brethren, and even with his enemies. How is this possible? It is only as we are justified by faith alone that there can be peace with God and peace with our neighbor. By nature, as the Heidelberg Catechism instructs us, we hate God and hate our neighbors. When the psalmist stated that he was for peace, he implied his hatred for lies, strife, war, deceit, and slander.
What anguish the psalmist endured in his soul because of slander and lies. He cried, “Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.” The psalmist had confidence. He cried unto the LORD, and he heard me (vs.1).” God hates slander. What will be given to the liar and false tongue is “sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper” (vs. 4). God will shoot His hot arrows at those who slander and tell lies. This is true both now in time, and unless repented of, eternally.
This psalm is correctly the first psalm of ascent, because it is the desire of the child of God to be delivered, brought up to Jerusalem, which means, “city of peace”. The Psalmist felt as if he wa in the midst of the wicked nation of Japheth, north of Israel, or a ruthless nation from Ishmael, southeast of Israel. Both nations are used figuratively in vs. 5 to represent the psalmist’s feeling of isolation even though he resided in Israel. In Jerusalem was the temple where the peace offering was made. Jehovah spoke peace to His own through the offering.
Ultimately, this psalm finds its highest realization in Jesus Christ. “I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.” Jesus lives in perfect harmony with His Father in heaven. He came to make the peace offering, taking away the sins of His people. He makes the church a place of peace. How His soul was distressed when He was slandered during the duration of His ministry. He was slandered by the leaders in Jerusalem. They said He cast out devils by the power of Beelzebub, a troubler of Israel, and guilty of blasphemy because He made himself equal with God. His disciples were called liars when they said that Jesus rose from the dead. God delivered Jesus from lying lips and deceitful tongues when He raised Him from the dead and Jesus ascended into heaven.
There is a sense in which all Christians live in Meshech and Kedar; the world is no friend to grace or to God. It is easy for us to feel out of place in a world where values are the opposite of truth. God, the gift of salvation, the hope of eternal life, and our obedience to God’s laws receive mockery. When we stand for the unbreakable marriage between a man and a woman, when we oppose abortion, when we say that there is only one way to the Father, and when we hold the truth of a six-day creation, we are slandered as those that are narrow-minded, bigoted, and mean spirited. It is to be expected. Although we are in the world, we are not of it. “My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace.”
But when it is fellow Christians who charge us with being hyper-Calvinists, unscientific, narrow when it comes to Sabbath observance, etc., we feel it and we feel isolated. When the devil stirs up disharmony and bitterness even in our own churches, how sad and distressed we are. Who can bring harmony and peace back? We must look and go, as the psalmist did, to the only one who can help. “In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me.” We look to Jesus, the Prince of peace, who by His offering for our sin brings peace with God and peace between fellow believers. We need to go the cross of Calvary and confess our sins of bitterness, hostility, false accusations and slander. With Him there is plenteous forgiveness and deliverance from the power of sin. By His grace we have peace with God, who hates slander, as well as peace with our fellow believers. May we, by the work of the Holy Spirit, be able to say on our pilgrimage to the city of peace, “I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.” May we strive to live in harmony and love in righteousness.
Near the end of the Songs of Ascent, we have Psalm 133:
“Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” “...for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.”