War in captivity (Ps 120:5-120:7)

“Woe to me!

I am an alien in Meshech!

I must live among the tents of Kedar!

Too long have I had my dwelling

Among those who hate peace.

I am for peace.

When I speak,

They are for war!”

This short psalm ends with the psalmist lamenting that he was in some far off place where everyone is warring against him. He was a stranger or alien in Meshech and Kedar, either some place in Asia Minor or northern Arabia. These two places are kind of synonyms for some barbarous place where all people wanted to do was to make war. This psalmist, on the other hand, only wanted peace not war.

Deceitful tongue (Ps 120:3-120:4)

“What shall be given to you?

What more shall be done to you?

You have a deceitful tongue.

It is like a warrior’s sharp arrows!

It is like glowing coals of the broom tree!”

What should be given to this deceitful tongue? What should be done to it? A deceitful tongue is like a warrior’s sharp arrows. This deceitful tongue is like glowing coals of a broom tree, which was some kind of tree that produced a long simmering burning fire.

Cry of distress (Ps 120:1-120:2)

A song of ascents

“In my distress

I cry to Yahweh!

Thus he may answer me.

‘Yahweh!

Deliver me

From lying lips!

Deliver me

From a deceitful tongue!’”

Psalm 120 is the first short psalm that begins the psalms that were sung on the way to Jerusalem. There are now 15 songs or psalms of ascent in a row. Thus they use repetitive verses like many of the psalms, so that the processing people could remember them as they went in pilgrimage to Jerusalem. This one is about someone in distress. He cried to Yahweh to answer him. He wanted to be delivered from lying lips and a deceitful tongue.