James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
A Song of degrees. In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me.Psalms 120:1-134:3
This group is differentiated by the title attached to each: “A Song of Degrees” or “A Song of Ascents.” The title seems derived from the going up of the people to Jerusalem at the great festivals which came three times a year. (Compare Deuteronomy 16:16; 1 Kings 12:27-28, etc.); the thought being that they chanted the psalms at different stages in their journey.
The pertinency of this application of these psalms is more apparent in some than others. For example, Psalms 121 represents the pilgrim looking towards the goal of his journey, and inspired by its contemplation to apply the thought of the strength of its hills to the care of God for His people, and especially His care for them on their journey, by night or day (Psalm 121:3-6). The spiritual application is easily suggestive. Psalms 124, 126, 129, 130, suggest the Babylonian captivity. Psalms 134 represents the companies arriving at the sanctuary and calling on the priests to unite in praising God on their behalf, to which the priests reply in the language of the Mosaic blessing which they only could pronounce (Psalm 134:3).
Of the whole group Psalms 132 is the most important in some respects. May Solomon have been its author? It opens with a declaration of his father David’s zeal for the building of the temple (Psalm 132:1-7). Ephratah (Psalm 132:6) is another name for Bethlehem (Genesis 48:7). “The fields of the wood” stands for Jair or Kirjath-jearim whence the ark was brought up by David to Jerusalem. The psalm next pleads with God for fulfillment of His promises to David concerning the temple (Psalm 132:8-18). The solomonic application is clear in verses 10-12, and yet, it has a typical reference to the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1. How is this group of psalms designated?
2. What is the probable sense of that designation?
3. At what period may some of the group have been composed?
4. Show their pertinency, by the analysis of one or more of the group.
5. State the probable history of Psalms 132.
6. Interpret Psalms 134.