Psalm 120 follows the longest chapter in all of scripture with 176 verses. We return to the much shorter chapters with Psalm 120, which is the first of fifteen psalms entitled “A Song of Degrees” that seem to be designed for use by the people as they headed up to Jerusalem for the festivals three times a year. The writer here calls out God’s faithfulness in the past to his requests. “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me”. One of the best indicators of God’s future action are what He’s done in the past. He never changes.
The psalm writer asks for deliverance from the lying lips of his enemies. Slander and the tongue are some of the most painful of all attacks. “Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue”. His enemy has trumped up words to attack the psalmist and is using deceit to attempt to bring him under false accusation. The tongue is such a small part of the body, but carries such power to harm and even destroy when not bridled. The writer asks for deliverance. It is the same kind of attack that Jesus endured as He went to the cross, one without merit of foundation.
The author appears to be pointing out that their attempts will be in vain and have no effect. “What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you, you deceitful tongue”? Words cause pain, but God can help us rise above words and stand strong against the evil that can come with them. “A warrior’s sharp arrows, with glowing coals of the broom tree”! These words are like an arrow that is on fire with glowing coals from the broom tree, which burns with more intensity that any other kind of wood. The words of deceit from the tongue are like that – they burn bright and deep.
The writer calls out two groups of people who are antagonists and fighters. Meshech and Kedar are both places with people who had walked away from God and hated peace. They were constantly stirring up war even though the people of Israel tried to get along with them. They were part of God’s people, but folks who have drifted away and no longer want to be under the authority of the tribes of Israel. The author wants peace with all of God’s people, but they are intent on war. “I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war”!