Songs for the Road: The Psalms of Ascent

Day 1: The First Step: Repentance

Scripture Reading: Psalm 120

The Christian life is a climb—a journey of constant growth, sacrifice, and trusting God for what we cannot see. As Eugene Peterson said, we are pilgrims, but we are also disciples—always moving and always learning. The Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134) were sung by worshipers as they made the journey up to Jerusalem for the annual feasts. In this 3-week reading plan, we’ll dig into these traveling songs with the help of short summary essays and thoughtful, reflective questions for each psalm. Take your pack on your shoulder and walk with us as we pursue God together.


Psalm 120 (CSB)
A song of ascents.

1 In my distress I called to the LORD,
and he answered me.
2 “LORD, rescue me from lying lips
and a deceitful tongue.”

3 What will he give you,
and what will he do to you,
you deceitful tongue?
4 A warrior’s sharp arrows
with burning charcoal!

5 What misery that I have stayed in Meshech,
that I have lived among the tents of Kedar!
6 I have dwelt too long
with those who hate peace.
7 I am for peace; but when I speak,
they are for war.


A Leaving Song
The pilgrim-disciple laments his culture of dishonesty and hostility, and leaves for the holy city of Jerusalem. This song was sung with an eye toward the goal: worship on God’s holy hill. It is the song of a person who is stirred to leave a broken world in search of a place where peace reigns.

Dissatisfaction with the brokenness of our world is an essential component to a pilgrim’s journey. It stirs us to get up from where we are and seek a better way. We aren’t called simply to flee from the lies of our culture. We are called to flee to God.

1. Do you know any other leaving songs? What are they about? What do you want to be delivered from? What do you want to leave? Why?

2. The pilgrim-disciple prays to be delivered from lies. What are the lies that most often have your ear? Do you struggle to recognize the lies you are told? What lies do you tell to paint yourself in a better light? Why do you think we do this?

3. What does it mean to flee to God? In what ways do you practice, or in what ways can you begin to practice, fleeing to God?