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Read Psalm 120

A song of ascents.

I call on the Lord in my distress,
    and he answers me.
Save me, Lord,
    from lying lips
    and from deceitful tongues.

What will he do to you,
    and what more besides,
    you deceitful tongue?
He will punish you with a warrior’s sharp arrows,
    with burning coals of the broom bush.

Woe to me that I dwell in Meshek,
    that I live among the tents of Kedar!
Too long have I lived
    among those who hate peace.
I am for peace;
    but when I speak, they are for war.


Psalms 120-134 are known as the “Psalms of Ascent” or “Pilgrim Songs”. Every year as the Jews traveled uphill towards the city of Jerusalem to participate in one of the three Jewish festivals, these are the songs they would sing. They became a staple of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem back then and now they serve as a helpful template for us as we worship today. 

Go Deeper

Psalm 120 is a prayer, written by David, asking for deliverance from the plans and actions of treacherous people. David starts his prayer by declaring the faithfulness of God. This is probably no accident, as he is seeking deliverance from the faithlessness and betrayal of others. David starts where we should, in times when people not only let us down, but cause us great harm. He reminds himself that God can be trusted, even when those closest to us, or those that surround us, cannot. 

Psalm 120 not only serves as a prayer and a cry for help; it can also act as a warning and source of wisdom. To those with deceitful tongues, David describes the consequences of their actions as arrows and burning coals of the broom tree. In the footnotes of Psalm 120, The Amplified Bible tells us that the coals of broom trees are peculiar in that they can continue to smolder on the inside long after they appear to have died out on the outside. In the same way, the aftermath of deceit continues to linger in our hearts and lives long after lies are told. 

Let us, as the people of God, be instead known for our faithfulness and truthfulness.

A final word of encouragement, if you find yourself in the aftermath of others’ deceit: We serve a God who knows firsthand the pain of treachery. This psalm points us to the life of Jesus, who, in His mercy and grace, is able to bear witness to and comfort us in our heartache and suffering. Take courage: God is faithful, even when the people around us are not.


  1. Can you relate to the pain of David in this psalm? Have you ever experienced the treachery of others?
  2. Have you ever caused pain by deceit and betrayal? There is grace for you in Jesus. You can find forgiveness and freedom from your sin in Christ. 
  3. Are you in a position to support or bring comfort and encouragement to those who are struggling with the pain described in the psalm? Can you remind them of the faithfulness of God in the midst of their pain? 

Keep Digging

Curious about the role of broom trees, or “juniper,” throughout Scripture? Check this out.

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1 thought on “Psalm 120”

  1. Recently I discovered through Women of Prayer 5 helpful prayers to pray before reading scripture:
    1. God, give me wisdom, knowledge and understanding.
    2. God, let any knowledge I gain serve to help me love You and others more, and not puff me up.
    3. God, help me see something new about you I’ve never seen before.
    4. God, correct any lies I believe about You or anything I misunderstand.
    5. God, direct my steps according to Your Word.

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