Read: Psalm 129:1 – 4; Matthew 27:27; Acts 5:40; Acts 16:19 – 23; 2 Corinthians 11:23 – 24; Acts 12:2; John 21:18 – 19
“Israel” in Psalm 129 represents the people of God, the church, in all times and places. The psalm, when used in worship, began with the cantor singing the first verse with the congregation joining in on the second. This pattern suggests that persecution may come to individuals, or it may come to the whole congregation. The persecution may be very severe and frequent. The first word of the Psalm can be translated either “many times,” or “greatly.” The persecutors “cut-in” furrows on the back; they made those furrows long. The persecution was painful and severe.
Think About It: The words of Psalm 129:1 – 3 have sadly been fulfilled many times throughout history, some of which are recorded in the Scripture references for today. What words of encouragement are there in Psalm 129:1 – 4 regarding frequent and severe persecution?
Prayer: Pray for persecuted Christians; pray for strength to stand firm.
Read: Psalm 129:1 – 4; Luke 6:22 – 26; John 16:33; 1 Thessalonians 3:4; 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 4:12
The persecution described in Psalm 129:1 – 4 is not unusual. We should not be surprised at persecution and suffering.
Think About It: What do the Scripture references for today tell me about persecution and suffering? How have I experienced persecution? What resources can I turn to when I am facing adversity?
Prayer: For the courage to live a godly, Christian life in the face of rejection and persecution.
Read: Psalm 129:4; Exodus 17:14 – 16; Jeremiah 38:4 – 6; Galatians 2:12; Titus 1:10;
2 Timothy 4:14; 3 John 9; Ephesians 6:12
The persecutors of Israel are described in Psalm 129:4 with the Hebrew word rasha – wicked, ungodly. The same term is used about 40 times in Proverbs in direct contrast with tsiddiq, the righteous. Sometimes the wicked are outsiders, like the Amalekites (Exodus 17:14-16). Sometimes the wicked are seemingly from the inside, like the false prophets and princes who persecuted Jeremiah (Jeremiah 38:4 – 6), or the party of the circumcision that opposed Paul (Galatians 2:12; Titus 1:10), or Alexander the Coppersmith who did Paul great harm (2 Timothy 4:14), or Diotrephes, who rejected the leadership of John (3 John 9).
Think About It: What is more difficult to deal with — the enemy from without, or the enemy who appears to come from within? According to Ephesians 6:12, what is the true source of opposition to God’s people? What are the implications of this in my interactions with others?
Prayer: For spiritual discernment in my struggle against evil.
Read: Psalm 129:5; Genesis 4:1 – 8, 19:9; John 15:18; Luke 15:11 – 32; Matthew 20:15
The wicked persecutors of God’s people are characterized by their hatred of Zion. Zion, like Israel, is a symbol of God’s people.
Think About It: What are some biblical examples of the hatred of the wicked for the people of God? Why do the wicked hate those who are righteous by grace through faith? Am I resentful of God’s graciousness to undeserving sinners? What am I?
Prayer: Praise God for His amazing grace shown to undeserving sinners like me.
Read: Psalm 129:5; Jeremiah 17:18; Psalm 6:10; 25:3; 35:26; 40:14; 70:2; 86:17; 109:28
The imprecatory psalms, of which Psalm 129 is an example, are often caricatured by critics as savage calls for vengeance. The prayer against persecutors begins with the request that they be put to shame. The Hebrew word for shame – boosh – means to put to shame, be ashamed, be disconcerted, be disappointed. It does not imply dismemberment, torture, or annihilation.
Think About It: What good can result from someone who feels shame over what they have done, or planned to do (2 Corinthians 7:10; Ezekiel 18:30; Jonah 3:10)? Am I willing to see my persecutors change their minds and repent and experience God’s forgiveness and grace (Jonah 4:1 – 3)?
Prayer: For the enemies of the faith to experience shame at their evil ways, to repent, to experience God’s forgiveness and grace.
Read: Psalm 129:5 – 7; 2 Samuel 15:31; Isaiah 8:11 – 17
What if the wicked do not become ashamed of their thoughts and actions, and do not repent? Palm 129:5 – 7 instructs us to pray that they be driven back, that their attack be repulsed, that they might dry up like grass on a rooftop, so that their plans never come to fruition. Many of the threats we fear are imaginary. Some threats are real — the conspiracy referred to in Isaiah 8 was real — but God can keep them from harming us.
Think About It: According to the reference for today from Isaiah 8, what should I not fear? What should I fear? Are there things of which I am afraid? What do I need to do about this fear?
Prayer: Lord, may I give to You the respect and awe that are Your due; and may I fear nothing else, real or imagined.
Read: Psalm 129:8 Hosea 5:8 – 15; Jeremiah 29:13
The final prayer request against the wicked in Psalm 129 is in v. 8: that the wicked will not be blessed by God, that no one will bless them in the name of the Lord. Why should the wicked care? Hosea 5:8 – 15 gives progressive series of God’s actions against sin, beginning with a warning; continuing with the annoyance of the moth; continuing with the ravaging of a lion; and ending with a profound sense of God’s absence. The worst thing that can happen to a person is to lack the blessing of God’s presence. The sense of absence of God may lead to a hunger for God which will lead to seeking after God, and those who seek Him, find Him (Jeremiah29:13).
Think About It: What chance does any person or project have if it lacks the Lord’s blessing? Have I ever had the terrifying sense of God’s absence? How will I pray for those who persecute me, in the light of what I have learned from Psalm 129?
Prayer: Praise God that He invites sinners to come to repentance and faith; for the grace to pray for the salvation of those who persecute the church.