Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ps 120:1-7. This is the first of fifteen Psalms (Psalms 120-134) entitled "A Song of Degrees" (Ps 121:1—literally, "A song for the degrees"), or ascents. It seems most probable they were designed for the use of the people when going up (compare 1Ki 12:27, 28) to Jerusalem on the festival occasions (De 16:16), three times a year. David appears as the author of four, Solomon of one (Ps 127:1), and the other ten are anonymous, probably composed after the captivity. In this Psalm the writer acknowledges God's mercy, prays for relief from a malicious foe, whose punishment he anticipates, and then repeats his complaint.
Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.
2, 3. Slander and deceit charged on his foes implies his innocence.
tongue—as in Ps 52:2, 4.
What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue?
Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper.
4. Sharp arrows of the mighty—destructive inflictions.
coals of juniper—which retain heat long. This verse may be read as a description of the wicked, but better as their punishment, in reply to the question of Ps 120:3.
Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!
5. A residence in these remote lands pictures his miserable condition.
My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace.
6, 7. While those who surrounded him were maliciously hostile, he was disposed to peace. This Psalm may well begin such a series as this, as a contrast to the promised joys of God's worship.
I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.