Psalm 125: 2nd Sunday of Advent with Commentary by Dr Noel Donnelly
Ps 125 Advent Commentary
Psalm 125: words and music (c) Noel Donnelly. Recorded by Grace Buckley.
Psalm 125: words (c) The Grail, England. Music (c) Gerry Fitzpatrick. Recorded by Grace Buckley.
Psalm 125 Commentary
Psalm 125 is listed in the bible as a “Song of Ascent”. It is a song sung by pilgrims as they climb up the final slopes to Jerusalem at the end of their journey together. In a way this fits in with the joyful mood of the Christian community as we approach Easter through our long Lenten pilgrimage. The psalm if full of joy, but of joy not quite fulfilled. Yes, our hearts are overflowing with happiness for all that God has done for us in the past. Journey’s end is in sight. Many parents will remember the cries of their children towards the end of a long car journey: “Are we nearly there?” And the answer of course is “Yes; just hang on in there! We’ve not far to go now!” That’s the mood of our ascent psalm. We are nearly there! Easter is just around the corner.
Originally the psalm recalled the wonderful delivery from the forced migration of God’s people into captivity in Babylon. But then a new leader called Cyrus had come along and with amazing tolerance had issued in 539 BC a decree liberating the captive Jewish people and positively supporting their return to their homes around Jerusalem. After about 70 years in captivity, “We were like men in a dream!” says the psalmist. We could hardly believe our good fortune. It has been like a farmer going out to sow in a dry field but now God’s refreshing rains have helped to produce an amazing harvest. “Indeed we were glad!” sings the psalmist as he recalls with delirious joy this powerful transformation in fortunes.
But the psalm ends with a note of realism: not all the exiles have managed to survive the journey for a new life. Verse four has a prayer for God to bring back to safety those who are still struggling with the painful upheavals of migration.
Today we have not far to look to see these bitter situations where people are struggling to flee from the horrors of war and starvation as they seek a fresh start for themselves and their children. We pray for their safe deliverance as we journey through Holy Week into Easter.