Day 79: Psalms of Ascent


Numbers 34:1-29 After God had established the boundaries of the Promised Land, plans were made to section off the land that would be assigned to the various tribes. Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh had already received their territories in TRANSJORDAN.


Deuteronomy 33:1-29 On his deathbed Moses extended his blessing to all of Israel. He extolled the goodness of God and the gift of His Law, and he imparted his blessing to the Twelve Tribes just as Jacob gave a blessing to each of his twelve sons before his death. In the end, Moses urged the people of Israel to rejoice not for their own accomplishments but for what God had done for them.


Psalm 120 The Psalmist was being persecuted by deceitful persons. His exile from his home in Jerusalem serves as a metaphor for all the faithful, who are on a spiritual journey toward the destination of their definitive home in Heaven. “This is the cry of the whole Church and of all the saints, who live for the good things of their eternal homeland in the midst of their long exile, because these men of the spirit live side by side with worldly men, and those who seek only the goods of this earth are annoyed by those who strive after heavenly things'' (OH MY GOODNESS, HOW TRUE IS THIS???) (Prosper of Aquitane, Expositio Psalmorum, 119, 5).


  • Second to last day of Desert Wanderings! (Anyone else feel like we’ve been in this Era for 40 years? Just me? Oh…..)

  • Numbers 34: we have the boundaries of the Land of Canaan

  • This reminds us of the fact that the Promised Land is NOT AN ABSTRACT IDEA

  • Maybe in modern times, it has become a metaphor for something else

  • But, in the ancient world, for the Jewish People, it is a VERY SPECIFIC, TANGIBLE THING

  • There is something really powerful about that

  • It reminds us of the fact that this is a TRUE STORY

  • This is an HISTORICAL REALITY

  • THIS HAPPENED

  • The people of Israel were ENSLAVED for 400 YEARS

  • They WANDERED in the wilderness for 40 YEARS

  • They entered into this particular place at this particular time, and lived in this particular way

  • We recognize in this that Judaism and Christianity are HISTORICAL RELIGIONS

  • They happened at a time and a place to a certain people

  • This is how God interacted WITH THEM and ON THEIR BEHALF

  • This reminds us that to be SPIRITUAL, to HAVE FAITH, is NOT divorced from our daily life

  • It is NOT DIVORCED from matter

  • It is NOT DIVORCED from time and space

  • IT IS ENTRENCHED IN TIME AND SPACE

  • As human beings, what we believe as Christians, is that we are MATTER AND SPIRIT

  • We are made of FLESH AND OUR SOULS

  • We are not ONE OR THE OTHER

  • WE ARE BOTH TOGETHER

  • Something similar in the Judeo-Christian faith is that it is INTENSELY SPIRITUAL and also VERY INTENSELY MATERIAL

  • HEAVEN AND EARTH UNITED

  • Deuteronomy: Moses’ final blessing

  • There are a number of times where we get a sense of who is blessed a lot and who is NOT blessed a lot

  • The very first blessing is for the Tribe of Reuben

  • “Let Reuben live and not die, nor let his men be few…”

  • Ok that is not a very powerful blessing

  • Live and not die (No, not Live and Let Die! I prefer the Guns n Roses version myself)

  • All of these other tribes are blessed in pretty powerful ways in comparison

  • Psalm 120: this marks the beginning of the PSALMS OF ASCENT

  • The Psalms of Ascent are from Ps 120-134

  • These are typically associated with the THREE MAJOR FEASTS in the life of the people of Israel

  • Passover

  • Pentecost

  • Tabernacles (Booths)

  • Remember, the people of Israel had to go to Jerusalem to worship in the Temple at these three times of the year

  • As they made pilgrimage, as they got to a certain place, they would pray these Psalms of Ascent

  • Jerusalem is always considered UP

  • Even if you live in the NORTH (Winter is Coming 🤪), you would still go UP TO JERUSALEM

  • Jerusalem is on Mt. Zion

  • That’s why they’re called PSALMS OF ASCENT

  • When we take a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, we ride a bus from the Jordan River UP TO JERUSALEM

  • As we take that bus ride we would pray the Psalms of Ascent (huh, I thought we could spend the trip singing 99 bottles of beer on the wall…I mean that’s what we always sang on field trips 🤪)

  • It is a reminder of the fact that for THOUSANDS OF YEARS the People of Israel would make the pilgrimage UP TO JERUSALEM to worship God in the Temple

  • It’s not merely on the road leading up to Jerusalem where they would pray the Psalms of Ascent

  • But there were 15 steps leading up to the Temple in the SECOND TEMPLE PERIOD

  • On each one of these steps, pilgrims would stop and pray ONE PSALM OF ASCENT

  • So as they ascend each step, they pray one of the 15 Psalms of Ascent

  • You pray these Psalms of Ascent on your way UP TO WORSHIP THE LORD

  • Oh so they’re all the same?

  • NO!

  • Some of them are HYMNS, songs of JOY

  • Some of them are LAMENTS (Psalm 120 is a Lament), songs of distress and trouble

  • Some of them are psalms of THANKSGIVING

  • Some of them are psalms of CONFIDENCE

  • Some of them are psalms of PROPHECY, that contain DIVINE STATEMENTS where God is the one speaking

  • Some of them are psalms of WISDOM

  • Some of them are ROYAL psalms

  • The unofficial title of Psalm 120 is “God’s Presence During Distress”

  • God is TRULY PRESENT EVEN IN TIMES OF DISTRESS

  • For the next several days, up to day 90, we will be praying the Psalms of Ascent

  • Whenever we pray these, be reminded of the fact that they encompass all of the great joys and great trials of life

  • They are all oriented towards JOURNEYING UP TO THE TEMPLE OF GOD, not only where His Presence would abide, but where God would be WORSHIPPED as He has asked to be worshipped

  • In good times and in bad, in times of distress and joy, in times of trial and thanksgiving, in times of blessing, wisdom, and prophecy, WE ARE CALLED TO WORSHIP GOD

  • IN ALL THESE TIMES

  • It is in WORSHIPPING GOD, that we TRULY discover WHO WE ARE

  • In WORSHIPPING GOD, He doesn’t get anything out of it, but He TRANSFORMS US into a certain kind of person, a certain kind of people

  • THAT IS AN INCREDIBLE GIFT

  • As we continue our journey, we continue to not only WORSHIP GOD, but we also continue to PRAY FOR EACH OTHER

  • Do you believe Fr. Mike when he says he prays for you EVERY SINGLE DAY?

  • Don’t forget to pray for each other

  • We hear Fr. Mike’s voice, but there is someone else whose ears are hearing these words and whose heart is being touched by these words that MIGHT NEED YOUR PRAYERS IN A VERY POWERFUL AND PARTICULAR WAY TODAY

  • Don’t forget about each other


Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we thank you and we praise your name. We thank you for being with us on this journey. You are the one who initiated this journey, God. You are always the one who leads us. You are always the one who speaks first. You are the one who moves first. You are the one who loves us first. All of our prayers to you, all of our listening to you, and all of our loving you back is simply a response to your initiative. So we just thank you. We thank you that if we are hearing these words, we know that you have chosen us. Because you have loved us. Lord God, you choose your people and you continue to guide them and fight for them. And we know that you continue to choose us, as messed up as we are. And you continue to love us and fight for us. Lord God, help us to love you back. And help us to respond to your fighting for us, by being the kind of people who are willing to not fight against you but to fight with you. Help us to love you well and the people around us well. We make this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.”