SONGS FOR THE JOURNEY
THE PSALMS OF ASCENT
A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.
 Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
 It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
 Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. (ESV)
What is most absolute is not truth and falsehood, virtue and vice; what matters most absolutely is the advancing self. The individual is perpetually moving toward wholeness and completion, and ideas are adopted as they suit that mission. Individual betterment is the center around which the entire universe revolves. This is a brutal form of narcissism. The weight of the universe is placed on the shoulders of the individual. Accordingly, in modern American culture, the self becomes semidivinized. People feel free to pick and choose their own religious beliefs, because whatever serves the self-journey toward happiness must be godly and true. This means that each individual must be the locus of values. It means that the central question of life is not “What does God command and love?” but rather “What is my destiny and fulfillment?” It is not our duty to humbly obey God’s law and submit to the universal order. It is our duty to create and explore our self, to realize our own inner light. It is up to each of us to justify our own existence.
- David Brooks, On Paradise Drive
Our Pursuits (v. 1)
PROVISION & PROTECTION
Are we supposed to "Let go, and let God"?
2 Thessalonians 3:11–12
For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Souls that cultivate passivity do not thrive, but waste away. The Christian’s motto should not be “Let go and let God” but “Trust God and get going!”
- J.I. Packer, In Step with the Spirit
Our Problem (v. 1-2)
Are you heeding the warnings?
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
WITHOUT THE VINE, EVERYTHING IS IN VAIN
…eating the bread of anxious toil
The Lord's Providence (v. 4-5)
THE LORD PROVIDES
He gives sleep to his beloved while he sleeps.
THE LORD PROTECTS
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior…
In contrast to the anxious labor that builds cities and guards possessions, the psalm praises the effortless work of making children. Opposed to the strenuous efforts of persons who, in doubt of God’s providence and mistrust of human love, seek their own gain by godless struggles is the gift of children, born not through human effort but through the miraculous processes of reproduction which God has created among us. The example couldn’t have been better chosen. What do we do to get sons and daughters? Very little. The entire miracle of procreation and reproduction requires our participation, but hardly in the form of what we call our work. We did not make these marvelous creatures that walk and talk and grow among us. We participated in an act of love that was provided for us in the structure of God’s creation.
- Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction
WILL YOU TRUST IN THE GOD WHO IS GREAT, GLORIOUS, GOOD, & GRACIOUS?
GOD IS GREAT
so you don't have to be in control
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
GOD IS GLORIOUS
so you don't have to fear others
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
GOOD IS GOOD
so you don't have to look elsewhere
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
GOD IS GRACIOUS
so you don't have to prove yourself
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
Take a Next Step
A Prayer for Salvation
“Heavenly Father, I admit that I am weaker and more sinful than I ever before believed, but through your Son Jesus I can be more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. I thank you that he lived the life I should have lived and paid the debt and punishment I owed. Receive me now for his sake. I turn from my sins and receive him as Savior. Amen.”