Study Guide – Psalm 120

1 I call on the Lord in my distress,

    and he answers me.
2 Save me, Lord,
    from lying lips
    and from deceitful tongues.

What does the psalmist mean when he says that the Lord "answers" him in his distress?

What has to happen for someone to be saved from "lying lips" and "deceitful tongues"?

3 What will he do to you,
    and what more besides,
    you deceitful tongue?
4 He will punish you with a warrior’s sharp arrows,
    with burning coals of the broom bush.

Can you resonate with the feelings of the writer of this psalm? What people in your life have lied or been deceitful? 

The psalmist imagines "the deceitful tongue" being punished by a warrior's sharp arrows and the burning coals of a broom bush. (The broom bush is a flowering shrub whose firewood makes very hot, long-burning coals.) Why do you think the writer of this psalm selected these visuals as punishment? What effective punishment would you choose?

5 Woe to me that I dwell in Meshek,
    that I live among the tents of Kedar!
6 Too long have I lived
    among those who hate peace.
7 I am for peace;
    but when I speak, they are for war. NIV


The writer of this psalm seems to be living in a region where a nomadic group ("tents") regularly demonstrated violence and hatred for peace. What sort of circumstances could someone find themselves in today that might correlate with verses 5-7?

Looking back through this psalm, how does the context of verses 5-7 inform your understanding of the passion behind verses 1-2?

::::: Digging Deeper :::::

Notice that this pslam doesn't wrap-up everything neatly in the end. The tension of an uncertain outcome is left hanging in verse 7. In fact, many psalms end in this sort of unresolved tension. What does this trend teach you about prayer?

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Study Guide – Psalm 70
Study Guide – Psalm 24
Study Guide – Psalm 95

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