Steps Upward

The 150 Psalms are somewhat divided into loose groups.  Since not all of them are written by the same author, the heading on each Psalm gives us additional information from time to time.  After many readings of the book Psalms, this time I stopped and researched those Psalms from 120-134 as they have the same heading:  A Song of Degrees.  While there is deep theological teaching on this subject, I usually go for the simple, understandable teachings.  To do that, however, I usually wade my way through pages of thorough teaching and come up with about six sentences in which it could all be summarized.  

The Songs of Degree, according to my reading on in the Bible tools section led me to draw a conclusion that the headings simply tell us to look for the steps upward.  Finally in Psalm 134 the pilgrims reach the Temple doors.  The path they traveled was progressively upward out of distress into the satisfaction of entering the house of worship. 

Often described as the Traveler’s Psalm, 121 does display an upward look of its own.  “I will lift my eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the Lord which made Heaven and earth.”  It isn’t in the hills you will get the help; the help comes from the One who made the hills.  It is a beautiful Psalm.  In my reading I found three or four poets who put the truths of this Psalm into their own poetry.  Here is one I particularly liked.  It is written by John Bowtiler with a publication date of 1814.  It has no title. The rhyme scheme is particularly important to the meaning of the lines. 

To Heaven I lift mine eye,

To Heaven, Jehovah’s throne

For there my Savior sits on high

And thence shall strength and aid supply

To all He calls His own.

He will not faint nor fail,

Nor cause thy feet to stray:

For him no weary hours assail,

Nor evening darkness spreads her veil

O’er his eternal day.

Beneath that light divine

Securely shall thou move;

The sun with milder beam shall shine,

And eve’s still queen her lamp incline

Benignamt from above.

For he thy God and Friend,

Shall keep thy soul from harm,

In each sad scene of doubt attend,

And guide thy life, and bless thy end

With his almighty arm. 

When I lived in the Great Smoky Mountains I set to memorize Psalm 121.  It seemed appropriate with all the beautiful mountains around me.  It was then that I understood that those mountains are dangerous.  Our help comes from the Creator of those towering mountains of beauty. I lift my eyes to Him.





  1. Glenda

    This is one of my very favorite Psalms, and I especially like the KJV, in which the psalmist states in the first verse that his help comes from the Lord. As you know, some “modern” versions ask the question “From whence does my help come?” To me, it’s important that the psalmist already knew the Source of his help, no questions asked! Yes, our mountains can be treacherous at times, but we keep our eyes focused on the God of the mountains and the valleys. Thank you for another great reminder for us!

    • I saw that, Glenda. The NKJV sets the Psalm in poetic stanza and uses the question mark. I see no reason for it as it is not consistent with the rest of the Psalm. Now this moring I looked up Michtam. A Michtam of David. I liked best what the old theologian Fausett had to say because he dug into the original language, as did the Geneva Bible translators, and the root of the Hebrew word means “secret.” Lots of marginal notes put those Psalms in a group and call them golden. The agony David expresses is anything but golden. Now I have given you a little “salt” for the next blog coming! (Salt creates thirst.)

      • Glenda

        Thanks! I’ll be watching for it! 🙂

  2. Love this, Karyl.

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