Meditations on the Psalms #279

The Songs of Ascent

This is the first of a series of 15 psalms each with the title‘Song of Ascent’,their compilation comes from the time of King Hezekiah. As Isaiah recounts the story, we find Hezekiah was so ill that death was imminent. He asked God for a longer life. God made the clock “climb” back 10 degrees (about an hour.) It was a sign that Hezekiah would live for another 15 years. Hezekiah made a book of 15 psalms, 10 of them new, the other 5 by David and Solomon. (See Isa38 for the full story). In Isa38:20 it says they were to be sung with stringed instruments. The 10 that are anonymous are thought to be Hezekiah’s and represent the 10 degrees the sun went back. Added to the five attributed to David (4) and Solomon we have the extra 15 years of his life represented.

The Israelites often went to Jerusalem (Mt Zion) to worship God at the temple. These became psalms for climbing (ascent) as they went up the long hill to Jerusalem. 250 years after Hezekiah (500 years after the building of the temple) Ezra included them in his compilation of the psalter. These were songs for the people of God as they made the pilgrim journey to Jerusalem and the temple for worship at the three appointed feasts (Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles).This being so, then we can know that Jesus sang these songs on His many journeys to Jerusalem from Galilee. With that in mind, try reading all 15 in one sitting. It will take about 10mins; picture Jesus and the disciples singing them on their last journey to Jerusalem. These psalms are succinct and happy. Another tradition has them being sung on the 15 stairs that rose into the courts of the temple. Listeners would then think of the deliverance from Sennacharib and the recovery of Hezekiah.

The 15 Psalms are arranged in a chiastic structure with Ps127 being the apex. This is the one psalm of Solomon and talks about dependence upon God. The 4 psalms of David are in juxtaposition on the chiasma at #3 and 5 opposite #12 and 14. 

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