Songs of Ascents

David Bast

Read: Psalm 84

My soul longs . . . for the courts of the LORD. (v. 2)

Psalms 120-134 are titled the “Songs of Ascents.” This collection of psalms was composed for worshipers on their way to the temple in Jerusalem. These psalms were climbing songs, travel songs sung by Jewish pilgrims as they walked up the road toward Mount Zion.

Jewish worship in the Old Testament was seasonal, not weekly. Public worship took place at the temple in Jerusalem during the three great annual festivals. In the spring, Passover commemorated the Israelites’ deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Then seven weeks later came Pentecost, marking the giving of God’s Law to Moses on Mount Sinai. Finally, the fall festival of Tabernacles was held to give thanks for the harvest and recalls God’s provision and guidance during the years of wilderness wandering after the exodus. So, faithful Jews gathered in Jerusalem for worship: at Passover to remember God’s salvation, at Pentecost to give thanks for his Word, and at Tabernacles to celebrate his providential care.

For the Old Testament believer, the temple was important not so much in itself, but because of the one who dwelt there. Longing for the place was really longing for the person, for intimacy with God through worship. For Christians, Jesus is the temple. He is the place where God can be met, the one through whom the Father is worshiped. Through his indwelling Spirit, the highway to Zion now lies within our hearts, and we are blessed indeed (v. 5). —David Bast

As you pray, give thanks that you have free access to the Father through the Son by the Spirit.