Brian Johnston began this short series by asking: if you could choose three words that describe you, what three words would help people identify you and your personality?
He explained that Psalms 129-131 are a triplet within the Songs of Ascents, each having a particular theme. Over the next three weeks each Psalm will give us one word, one theme, which together will help us understand our own identity as believers and give us insight into the lives of others:
When read together within Psalms 129-131, these words represent a spiritual journey that moves through suffering and sin to contentment.
As you read through Psalm 129, does the suffering resonate with you in any way? Are you under pressure from life’s frustrations, or can you find comfort from its words?
1. Finding our voice
Israel had suffered over a long time at the hands of surrounding nations and here the Psalmist encourages the people to find their voice, to lift their suffering and pain to God.
Some of us find it difficult to share our suffering and carry it silently, whilst others simply see it as too trivial to bother God with. This Psalm calls us to neither response. It encourages us to find our voice – to bring all our sufferings to God, who hears when His people cry out to Him for help. He will not reject us (Cf. Exodus 3:7, Psalm 22:24).
2. Finding help in God
Time and again we read of how Israel called out to God during periods of oppression and suffering, and how God cut the cords to release them (Cf. Exodus 14:13-14). In the New Testament we read about the Apostle Paul pleading with God to take away the thorn in his side, and God says, “No” and “Yes”! “No, I am not going to remove your suffering. But yes, I will cut the bonds that bind you, for in your weakness you will find my strength.”
Similarly, in our own suffering and weakness we find God’s help and strength: to get through it, to break the bonds that separate us from Him, to gain victory over the enemy. Our suffering may last a lifetime, but God’s love lasts for eternity.
In this life you may face ongoing suffering, grief and brokenness that never leaves you. But knowing that you belong to God in body, life and soul, is a sure place of comfort and where you will find help.
3. Seeking justice from God
Through their suffering and affliction from other nations, God’s people call on their righteous God to deal with those who have mistreated them – they want justice!
We learn from this Psalm that we too can seek God’s justice for those who mistreat us or cause us to suffer. Turning our oppressors over to God does not make them immune from punishment, but while doing this we must examine our own hearts and ask what our motivation is: God’s justice or my revenge? (Cf. Romans 12:19).
Having now taken one step on our journey towards Becoming Whole, what does Psalm 129 say to the sufferer about this?
Through finding our voice, we do not stay silent but can carry our suffering to God
Through finding our help in God, the enemy will not gain the victory over us
Through seeking justice from God against the oppressor, we do not look for revenge