Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people,
from this time forth and forevermore.
For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest
on the land allotted to the righteous,
lest the righteous stretch out
their hands to do wrong.
Do good, O Lord, to those who are good,
and to those who are upright in their hearts!
But those who turn aside to their crooked ways
the Lord will lead away with evildoers!
Peace be upon Israel!
Psalm 125 is an interesting psalm. It is a good psalm to meditate on. It is only comprised of five verses and easily be read multiple times in one setting. It begins by encouraging people to fully trust in God (vs. 1). Those who do “cannot be moved”. This is because God surrounds his people just as mountains surround Jerusalem (vs. 2). This promise is not limited. It is not just for a moment. God promises to surround his people forever.
The psalm ends by dividing humanity into two groups, the good and the evil. This is common in wisdom literature. Psalm 1 introduces the book of Psalms by describing two ways, the way of the wicked and the way of the righteous. It is clear there are two ways to live. There is a right way and a wrong way, but it would be difficult to divide all humanity into these categories. Why? Paul tells us “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Each of us has spent time on the wrong path, and the temptation to meddle in evil is always present.
The most interesting verse in Psalm 125 is verse 3. It describes the continual presence of evil in the land of the righteous and the constant temptation for the righteous to do what is wrong. Walker Percy described this temptation in his novel The Last Gentleman with this line, “War is better than Monday morning.” As we go about our ordinary and everyday lives we are tempted by pride, envy, lust, greed, and other things that create conflict in our lives and the lives of others. Boredom may get the best of us. As the old saying goes, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” It could be that these evil ways seem more intriguing at the moment. We are tired of monotony and desire something new. Whatever it is, we need to be aware that even in the land of the righteous, evil is always present.
Thankfully, Psalm 125 is only part of the story. This psalm is a great reminder to be faithful. It offers an important warning to always be aware of the evil in our midst, but it does not tell us all there is to know about sin and evil in the lives of human beings. Paul reminds us that we are all guilty (Rom. 3:23), but he also tells us that we have forgiveness through Jesus. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross makes forgiveness of sins possible, but more than that the life of Jesus shows us in human flesh what the way of the righteous looks like. The temptation to meddle in evil will always exist, but now we have the extraordinary promise of forgiveness and the incredible example of what our lives should be.
May we fully trust in God by living as people who have been forgiven and who now strive to follow in the footsteps of Jesus every day.