Part One (of three)
I have found it helpful to meditate on the Psalms during the Lenten Season leading up to Resurrection Sunday. One way is to meditate on the “Psalms of Ascent” (Psalms 120-134, sung by pilgrims on their journey to Jerusalem. For Christians, this is the journey into the heart of God, what we could call “The Path to Glory.”
Psalms 120 – 134
Luke tells us that Jesus, when He knew that His time had come, “set His face to go to Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51) He set His face towards total rejection and death on the cross. He was on a journey. It began in heaven, then to Bethlehem, then to Jerusalem and Golgotha’s cross, and continued on to glory in His resurrection and return to heaven.
Jesus told His disciples to begin in Jerusalem to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom, and to go from there to all peoples and all nations. Today we also begin where we are and go wherever Jesus tells us to go, to proclaim His Gospel.
We Christians are on a pilgrimage, not to the old Jerusalem but to the New Jerusalem, into the presence of the Lord. Paul calls this the “Jerusalem from above.” (Galatians 4:25-26) The apostle John describes the New Jerusalem beautifully in Revelation chapter 21. This is the Jerusalem the prophet Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 65:17-25 (not the earthly Jerusalem but the New Jerusalem to come). Not everyone can make physical trips to holy places, but we can all enter the New Jerusalem spiritually; we can daily enter into the Holy of Holies, into the very presence of God. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Jesus endured the shame that we might live in joy.
Jesus took upon Himself death that we might receive unto ourselves life everlasting.
The Lenten season is a good time to begin our journey. We take the journey together with Jesus, and His Holy Spirit guides us. We go again to Golgotha, the cross, and to the resurrection of Jesus. As we journey we are ascending the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel. (Isaiah 30:29) We are headed to the mountain of healing, forgiveness, renewal, restoration and to a new beginning.
The Psalms will be our guide for this journey. Psalms 120 – 134 are called “Psalms of Ascent;” the pilgrims sang them as they traveled to Jerusalem. Today these 15 psalms are a guide to us as we take a pilgrimage during the Lenten season (or any season), preparing for the joy of Jesus’ resurrection.
We can meditate each day on one of these psalms, beginning with Psalm 120 and ending with Psalm 134. The best way to meditate is first to read through each psalm to understand the meaning and emphasis of each psalm. Then we will take one verse from each psalm for our meditation.
Some things to remember about meditating on the Bible:
- Meditation is a journey with the Holy Spirit. You already have embarked on your spiritual pilgrimage!
- A good definition of meditation is: “When we open our Bible and ask God to open our eyes to behold wonderful things in His Word, the Holy Spirit takes the written Word, transforms it into the living Word, and plants it in our innermost being.
- I begin meditation by sitting before a verse, or even a single word, of the Scripture, and simply asking God if He has something He would like to say to me through this Word. I listen and receive whatever He wants to say to me.
- We do not need any other book, just the Bible. It would be good to keep a journal of what God says to us each day, or of our response of prayer to God based on what He says.
- As you meditate, do three things: OPEN yourself to God, FOCUS on each word of the verse, and allow the Holy Spirit to FILL you with that word. He will plant each word in your spirit; just as a seed that you plant in the soil takes root and produces fruit, so will each word that Spirit plants in you as you meditate take root and produce fruit in your life.
- You will see change coming into your life.
PSALMS OF ASCENT
- Psalm 120
We begin our pilgrimage to the New Jerusalem with Psalm 120. We begin where we are. The psalmist is in distress. He or she wants peace, but is surrounded by those who do not want peace. The one who begins this journey to go higher with God is surrounded by antagonism and people who oppose. She is seeking the peace of Jesus.
Choose one verse and meditate for about 5 or 10 minutes. Ask God to speak to you, and then listen and respond.