Songs for the Road: The Psalms of Ascent

Day 17: A Memory of the Past and a Hope for Future Glory

Scripture Reading: Psalm 132

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 are digging 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.

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Psalm 132 (CSB)
DAVID AND ZION CHOSEN
A song of ascents.

1 LORD, remember David
and all the hardships he endured,
2 and how he swore an oath to the LORD,
making a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob:
3 “I will not enter my house
or get into my bed,
4 I will not allow my eyes to sleep
or my eyelids to slumber
5 until I find a place for the LORD,
a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

6 We heard of the ark in Ephrathah;
we found it in the fields of Jaar.
7 Let us go to his dwelling place;
let us worship at his footstool.
8 Rise up, LORD, come to your resting place,
you and your powerful ark.
9 May your priests be clothed with righteousness,
and may your faithful people shout for joy.
10 For the sake of your servant David,
do not reject your anointed one.

11 The LORD swore an oath to David,
a promise he will not abandon:
“I will set one of your offspring
on your throne.
12 If your sons keep my covenant
and my decrees that I will teach them,
their sons will also sit on your throne forever.”

13 For the LORD has chosen Zion;
he has desired it for his home:
14 “This is my resting place forever;
I will make my home here
because I have desired it.
15 I will abundantly bless its food;
I will satisfy its needy with bread.
16 I will clothe its priests with salvation,
and its faithful people will shout for joy.
17 There I will make a horn grow for David;
I have prepared a lamp for my anointed one.
18 I will clothe his enemies with shame,
but the crown he wears will be glorious.”

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A Song of Nostalgia and Future Glory
The pilgrim-disciple remembers when his people knew better days. But rather than return to a remembered past, he looks forward to a better future glory.

In the first half of this song (vv.1-10), God’s people cry out for God to repeat something He did before, about which they hold idealized memories. In the second half (vv.11-18), God beckons them to lift their eyes from the romantic fog of nostalgia and stop wishing for the past. Our security does not lie in a bygone era, but in an ongoing relationship with an eternal God.

Reflect
1. Are there any seasons in your past you wish you could return to? Why?

2. In his essay “The Weight of Glory,” C. S. Lewis describes nostalgia as “only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.” When we long to go back to a remembered time, or when we look forward to better days, what are we ultimately longing for?

3. In what ways do our desires for a better time help us worship God?