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PSALM 120:1

My Distress
Distress is a common feeling to all of humankind. no matter our culture, gender, or age. And one of the great benets of becoming distressed it that it precedes movement. Distress promotes decisions, and decision create options for growth. Rarely comfortable, but always creative. These Psalms begin outside Jerusalem, move on to the city of, and then at last the pilgrims arrive at the ark, priests & Temple servants. There they can worship with joy, but only after the distress of their current situation has driven them out onto the pilgrim road. The beginning of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem is soaked in the need of the pilgrim. We have here the motivation to proceed. A person has to be thoroughly disgusted with the way things are to nd the motivation to set out on the Christian way. Peterson, A long obedience, p 2 5 . T h e P s a l m i s ve r y personal. It is interesting that such a corporate activity as a group pilgrimage begins with a P s a l m s p o k e n a s by a n individual. Sometimes it takes one person to be distressed enough for the group to be motivated to move on. This Psalm begins with distress and ends with a reference to war. Life is dark at times. But even in his darkness the Psalmist turns in the right direction and looks to the right person for help. He turns to God, looking upward rather than inward. This is the pain that promotes a new beginning which ultimately leads to peace. Everything is not OK, and it is good to be honest about it with oneself and with God. woman bearing her rst child (Jeremiah 4:31). It refers to terror at the approach of a raping army (Jeremiah 6:24). It denes the quality of time when Judah suffers her severest punishment for violating the covenant (Jeremiah 30:7; cf. Psalm 78:49). The land of a people that reject the Lords word is described as full of distress, darkness, and the gloom of anguish (Isaiah 8:22; see also Isaiah 30:6). Into such darkness Yahweh will bring the light of his salvation (Isaiah 9:12). A brother provides help in adversity (Proverbs 17:17). Similarly the Lord helps his people out of the times of afiction (Psalm 50:15; Psalm 37:39). God graciously promises to save Israel from the trouble of the Day of the Lord (Jeremiah 30:7). (Information taken from: Harris, R. Laird, Gleason L. Archer, and Bruce K. Waltke, eds. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament.)


Tsarah is the Hebrew word translated distress in this verse. It indicates intense inner tur moil (Psalm 25:17). It describes the anguish of a people besieged by an enemy. It is similar to the pain of a

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