Psalm 125:1
They that trust in the LORD shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but stays for ever.
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Psalm 125:1 - Psalm 125:2

The so-called ‘Songs of Degrees,’ of which this psalm is one, are probably a pilgrim’s song-book, and possibly date from the period of the restoration of Israel from the Babylonish captivity. In any case, this little psalm looks very much like a record of the impression that was made on the pilgrim, as he first topped the crest of the hill from which he looked on Jerusalem. Two peculiarities of its topographical position are both taken here as symbols of spiritual realities, for the singularity of the situation of the city is that it stands on a mountain and is girdled by mountains. There is a tongue of land or peninsula cut off from the surrounding country by deep ravines, on which are perched the buildings of the city, while across the valley on the eastern side is Olivet, and, on the south, another hill, the so-called ‘Hill of Evil Counsel’; but upon the west and north sides there are no conspicuous summits, though the ground rises. Thus, really, though not apparently, there lie all round the city encircling defences of mountains. Similarly, says the Psalmist, set and steadfast as on a mountain, and compassed about by a protection, like the bastions of the everlasting hills, are they whose trust is in the Lord. Faith, then, gives inward stability, and faith secures an encircling defence.

But, more than that, notice that the mountains encompass a mountain. Faith, in some measure, makes the protected like the Protector. And then, beyond that, notice the two ‘for evers.’ Zion cannot be moved, it ‘abideth for ever,’ and ‘the Lord is about His people from henceforth and for ever.’ To trust in God gives the transitory creature a kind of share in the uncreated eternity of that in which he trusts. Now these are four thoughts worth carrying away with us.

I. The simple act of trust in God brings inward stability.

The word here that is rightly translated ‘trust,’ like most expressions in the Old Testament for religious emotion, has a distinctly metaphorical colouring about it. It literally means to ‘hang upon’ something, and so, beautifully, it tells us what faith is-just hanging upon God. Whoever has laid his tremulous hand on a fixed something, partakes, in the measure in which he does grasp it, of the fixity of that on which he lays hold; so ‘they that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion,’ that stands there summer and winter, day and night, year out and year in, with its strong buttresses and its immovable mass, the very emblem of solidity and stability.

Ay! and this is true about these tremulous hearts of ours. There is one way to make them stable, and only one; and that is that they shall be fastened, as it were, to that which is stable, and so be steadfast because they hold by what is steadfast. There is no other means by which any heart can be made immovable, except in so far as it may be moved by holy impulses and sweet drawings of love and loftinesses of aspiration towards God; there is no other means by which a heart, with all its inward perturbations and all its outward sources of agitation, can be made calm and still, except by living, deep, continual fellowship with Him who is the Eternal Calm, and from whose stable Being we mutable men can derive serenity which is a faint likeness of His immutability. ‘We which have believed do enter into rest.’

How can I still these hot desires of mine, this self-asserting will, all these various passions and emotions which sweep through my soul, and which must not be made mute and dead-or else there will come corruption and stagnation-but must be made so to move as that in their very motion shall be rest? How can I do that? By one way, and one only. Live in fellowship with God, and that will quiet perturbations within and tumults without. The foot of the Master on the midnight stormy sea will smooth the waves which the moonbeams have not power to still, but only to reveal their heavings. ‘They that trust in the Lord shall be like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved,’ and yet is not torpid in its immobility, but full of fertility and of beauty wedded to its steadfastness.

In like manner, the only way by which not only the inward storms can be quieted, but the outward assaults of perturbing circumstances, disasters, changes, difficult duties, and the like, can ever be received with tranquillity is, that they should be received in quiet faith. And, in like manner, the only way by which men can be made steadfast and immovable in brave, pertinacious adherence to the simple law of right, whatsoever temptations may try to draw them aside, and whatsoever frowns may gather upon the face of affairs so as to frighten them from the path of rectitude-the only way by which they can conquer evil, so as not to be hurried into forbidden paths, is this same making sure of their hold upon God, and carrying with them day by day, and moment by moment, into all the little difficulties and small temptations that would lead to trivial faults, the one solemn thought that bids all these back into their lairs-God is near me and I am with Him.

Oh, brethren! if we could live in touch with Him and, as this great word for ‘trust’ suggests, be fastened to Him, as a man, swinging from a cliff over the crawling sea, fathoms below him, clutches the rope that is his safety-then we should live in tranquillity, and be steadfast, immovable.

They say that in the great church of St. Peter there is only one temperature in summer and winter; that the fiercest heat may be pouring down in the colonnades, or the sharpest frost may have silenced the tinkling fall of the fountains in the Piazza; but within the great portal the thermometer stands the same. Thus, if we live in the Temple, and keep inside its doors, the thermometer in our hearts will be fixed; and the anemometer-the measurer of the wind-will point to calm all the year round. ‘They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved.’

II. Again, this same attitude of realising the divine Presence, Will, and Help, will bring around us encircling defences.

I have already said that one peculiarity of the topography of the sacred city is that, at first sight, the metaphor of my text seems to break down, for nobody, looking at the situation of the city with uninstructed eye, would say that it was compassed all around with mountains. On two sides it manifestly is; on two sides it apparently is not, though the land rises on the north and west till it is higher than the tops of the houses. We may not be fanciful in taking that as a parable. ‘As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people’-a very real defence, but a defence that it takes an instructed eye to see; no obvious protection, palpable to the vulgar touch, and manifest to the sensuous eye, but something a great deal better than that-a real protection, through which we may be sure that nothing which is evil can ever pass.

Whatsoever does get over the encircling mountains, and reaches us, we may be sure, is not an evil but a very real good. Only we have to interpret the protection on the principles of faith, and not on those of sense. When, then, there come down upon us-as there do upon us all, thank God!-dark days, and sad days, and solitary days, and losses and bitternesses of a thousand kinds, do not let us falter in the belief that if we have our hearts set on God, nothing has come to us but what He has let through. Our sorrows are His angels, though their faces are dark, and though they bear a sword that flames and turns every way. It is hard to believe; it is certainly true, and if we could carry the confidence of it as a continual possession into our ordinary lives, they would be very different from what they are to-day.

III. And then, remember the other thing that I said. My text suggests that- Simple trust in God, in some measure, assimilates the protected to the Protector.

The mountains girdle a mountain, and so my trust opens my heart to the entrance into my heart of something akin to God. As the Apostle Peter, in his brave way, is not afraid to say, it makes us ‘partakers of the divine nature.’ The immovableness of the trustful man is not all unlike the calmness of the trusted God; and the steadfastness of the one is a reflex of the unchangeableness of the other. We have not understood the meaning of faith, nor have we risen to the experience of its best effects upon ourselves, unless we understand that its great blessing and fruit, and the purpose for which we are commanded to cherish it, is that thereby we may become like Him in whom we trust. ‘They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.’ That is the key to the degradations that inhere in idolatrous worship, and that principle is true about all worship-as the god so is every one that trusteth in it. ‘As the mountains are round about Mount Zion,’ God is round about the people that are becoming Godlike.

IV. Mark further the significant repetition of the same expression in reference to the stability of the man protected and the continuance of the protection.

Both are ‘for ever’. That is to say, if it is true that God is round about me, and that, in some humble measure, my heart has been opening to be calmed and steadied by the influx of His own life, then His ‘for ever’ is my ‘for ever,’ and it cannot be that He should live and I should die. The guarantee of the eternal being of the trustful soul is the experience to-day of the reality of the divine protection. And thus we may face everything-life, death, whatsoever may come, assured that nothing touches the continuity and the perpetuity of the union between the trusting soul and the trusted God. ‘The mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from thee; nor shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the Lord.’ The earthquake comes. It shatters a continent and changes the face of nature; makes valleys where there were mountains, and mountains where there were vales, and open seas where there were fertile plains and covers everything with ruin and with rubbish. But there emerge from the cloudy and chaotic confusion the city perched on the hill and its encompassing heights. ‘The world passeth away, and the fashion thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.’Psalm 125:1. They that trust in the Lord — Who depend upon his care, and devote themselves to his honour; shall be as mount Zion — Which is firm, as a mountain supported by providence, and much more so as a holy mountain, supported by promise; which cannot be removed — Or, overthrown, by any winds or storms, both because of its own greatness and strength, and because of the divine protection afforded to it.125:1-3 All those minds shall be truly stayed, that are stayed on God. They shall be as Mount Zion, firm as it is; a mountain supported by providence, much more as a holy mountain supported by promise. They cannot be removed from confidence in God. They abide for ever in that grace which is the earnest of their everlasting continuance in glory. Committing themselves to God, they shall be safe from their enemies. Even mountains may moulder and come to nothing, and rocks be removed, but God's covenant with his people cannot be broken, nor his care of them cease. Their troubles shall last no longer than their strength will bear them up under them. The rod of the wicked may come, may fall upon the righteous, upon their persons, their estates, their liberties, their families names, on any thing that falls to their lot; only it cannot reach their souls. And though it may come upon their lot, it shall not rest thereon. The Lord will make all work together for their good. The wicked shall only prove a correcting rod, not a destroying sword; even this rod shall not remain upon them, lest they distrust the promise, thinking God has cast them off.They that trust in the Lord - His people; his friends. It is, and has been always, a characteristic of the people of God that they trust or confide in him.

Shall be as mount Zion - The mountain which David fortified, and on which the city was at first built, 2 Samuel 5:6-9. The name Zion became also the name by which the entire city was known.

Which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever - A mountain is an emblem of firmness and stability; and it is natural to speak of it as that which could not be removed. There is something more than this, however, intended here, as there is some ground of comparison especially in regard to Mount Zion. This must have been either the idea that Zion was particularly strong by position, or that it was under the divine protection, and was therefore safe. Most probably it refers to Zion as a place secure by nature, and rendered more so by art.


Ps 125:1-5. God honors the confidence of His people, by protection and deliverance, and leaves hypocrites to the doom of the wicked.

1, 2. Mount Zion—as an emblem of permanence, and locality of Jerusalem as one of security, represent the firm and protected condition of God's people (compare Ps 46:5), supported not only by Providence, but by covenant promise. Even the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but God's kindness shall not depart, nor His covenant of peace be removed (Isa 54:10).

They that trust—are "His people," (Ps 125:2).

1 They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.

2 As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth even for ever.

3 For the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous; lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity.

4 Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good, and to them that are upright in their hearts.

5 As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity - but peace shah be upon Israel.

Psalm 125:1

"They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion." The emphasis lies upon the object of their trust, namely, Jehovah the Lord. What a privilege to be allowed to repose in God! How condescending is Jehovah to become the confidence of his people! To trust elsewhere is vanity; and the more implicit such misplaced trust becomes the more bitter will be the ensuing disappointment; but to trust in the living God is sanctified common sense which needs no excuse, its result shall be its best vindication. There is no conceivable reason why we should not trust in Jehovah, and there is every possible argument for so doing; but, apart from all argument, the end will prove the wisdom of the confidence. The result of faith is not occasional and accidental; its blessing comes, not to some who trust, but to all who trust in the Lord. Trusters in Jehovah shall be as fixed, firm, and stable as the mount where David dwelt; and where the ark abode. To move mount Zion was impossible, the mere supposition was absurd. "Which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever." Zion was the image of eternal steadfastness, - this hill which, according to the Hebrew, "sits to eternity," neither bowing down nor moving to and fro. Thus doth the trusting worshipper of Jehovah enjoy a restfulness which is the mirror of tranquillity; and this not without cause, for his hope is sure, and of his confidence he can never be ashamed. As the Lord sitteth King for ever, so do his people sit enthroned in perfect peace when their trust in him is firm. This is, and is to be our portion; we are, we have been, we shall be as steadfast as the hill of God. Zion cannot be removed, and does not remove; so the people of God can neither be moved passively nor actively, by force from without or fickleness from within. Faith in God is a settling and establishing virtue; he who by his strength setteth fast the mountains, by that same power stays the hearts of them that trust in him. This steadfastness will endure "for ever," and we may be assured therefore that no believer shall perish either in life or in death, in time or in eternity. We trust in an eternal God, and our safety shall be eternal.

Psalm 125:2

"As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people from hence forth even for ever." The hill of Zion is the type of the believer's constancy, and the surrounding mountains are made emblems of the all-surrounding presence of the Lord. The mountains around the holy city, though they do not make a circular wall, are, nevertheless, set like sentinels to guard her gates. God doth not enclose his people within ramparts and bulwarks, making their city to be a prison; but yet he so orders the arrangements of his providence that his saints are as safe as if they dwelt behind the strongest fortifications. What a double security Psalm 125:1-2! First, we are established, and then entrenched: settled, and then sentinelled: made like a mount, and then protected as if by mountains. This is no matter of poetry, it is so in fact; and it is no matter of temporary privilege, but it shall be so for ever. Date when we please, "from henceforth" Jehovah encircles his people: look on us as far as we please, the protection extends "even for ever." Note, it is not said that Jehovah's power or wisdom defends believers, but he himself is round about them: they have his personality for their protection, his Godhead for their guard. We are here taught that the Lord's people are those who trust him, for they are thus described in the first verses: the line of faith is the line of grace, those who trust in the Lord are chosen of the Lord. Psalm 125:1-2 together prove the eternal safety of the saints: they must abide where God has placed them, and God must for ever protect them from all evil. It would be difficult to imagine greater safety than is here set forth.

Psalm 125:3

"For the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous." The people of God are not to expect immunity from trial because the Lord surrounds them, for they may feel the power and persecution of the ungodly. Isaac, even in Abraham's family, was mocked by Ishmael. Assyria laid its sceptre even upon Zion itself. The graceless often bear rule and wield the rod; and when they do so they are pretty sure to make it fall heavily upon the Lord's believing people, so that the godly cry out by reason of their oppressors. Egypt's rod was exceeding heavy upon Israel, but the time came for it to be broken. God has set a limit to the woes of his chosen, the rod may light on their portion, but it shall not rest upon it. The righteous have a lot which none can take from them, for God has appointed them heirs of it by gracious entail: on that lot the rod of the wicked may fall, but over that lot it cannot have lasting sway. The saints abide for ever, but their troubles will not. Here is a good argument in prayer for all righteous ones who are in the hands of the wicked.

"Lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity." The tendency of oppression is to drive the best of men into some hasty deed for self-deliverance or vengeance. If the rack be too long used the patient sufferer may at last give way; and therefore the Lord puts a limit to the tyranny of the wicked. He ordained that an Israelite who deserved punishment should not be beaten without measure: forty stripes save one was the appointed limit. We may therefore expect that he will set a bound to the suffering of the innocent, and will not allow them to be pushed to the uttermost extreme. Especially in point of time he will limit the domination of the persecutor, for length adds strength to oppression, and makes it intolerable: hence the Lord himself said of a certain tribulation, "except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened."

It seems that even righteous men are in peril of sinning in evil days, and that it is not the will of the Lord that they should yield to the stress of the times in order to escape from suffering. The power and influence of wicked men when they are uppermost are used to lead or drive the righteous astray; but the godly must not accept this as an excuse, and yield to the evil pressure; far rather must they resist with all their might till it shall please God to stay the violence of the persecutor, and give his children rest. This the Lord here promises to do in due time.

Psalm 125:4

continued...THE ARGUMENT

This Psalm was designed for the consolation and encouragement of God’s church and people in all ages, against all the plots and malice of their enemies.

The stedfastness of such as trust in God, Psalm 125:1-3. A prayer for the godly to do them good, and against the ungodly to destroy them, Psalm 125:4,5.

Removed, or, overthrown, by any winds or storms; partly because of its own greatness and strength; and partly because of the Divine protection afforded to it.

They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion,.... Who trust not in themselves, and in their own hearts; nor in anything of theirs, their strength or wisdom, riches or righteousness; nor in any creature whatever, in the mightiest or best of men; but in the Lord; in God, as the God of nature and providence, for all temporal mercies; and in him, as the God of grace, for all spiritual and eternal ones; who should be trusted in at all times, whether of affliction, temptation, or darkness; for which there is abundant reason. The Targum is,

"the righteous that trust in the Word of the Lord;''

in Christ the essential Word, who is trusted in by all that know him, and that know there is salvation in him, and in no other: these trust in him for acceptance with God, for a justifying righteousness, for remission of sin, for all supplies of grace, and for eternal life; and such are like Mount Zion for many things, being beloved and chosen of God, enjoying his presence, and the blessings of his grace; and being the joy of the whole earth, and a perfection of beauty; but here for their firmness and stability, as follows. Arama observes, that Mount Zion is made mention of, because here the prophecy was given; to which may be added, the psalmist was upon it, and had it in view, when he compared those that trust in the Lord unto it;

which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever: either, which Mount Zion is immovable, and continually abides, for which reason the church and people of God are compared unto it; or everyone of those that trust in the Lord, like that, can never be removed, but always abide: they can never be removed from the Lord, though they may be removed from his house and ordinances, as sometimes David was; and from his gracious presence, and sensible communion with him, and out of the world by death; yet never from his heart's love, nor out of the covenant of his grace, which is sure and everlasting; nor out of his family, into which they are taken; nor from the Lord Jesus Christ, nor out of his hands and arms, nor from off his heart; nor from off him, the foundation on which they are laid; nor out of a state of grace, either regeneration or justification; but such abide in the love of God, in the covenant of his grace, in the hands of his Son, in the grace wherein they stand, and in the house of God for evermore.

<> They that trust in the LORD shall be as mount Zion, which cannot {a} be removed, but abideth for ever.

(a) Though the world is subject to mutations, yet the people of God will stand sure and be defended by God's providence.

1. Mountains in general, as the most solid part of the solid earth, were to the Israelite the symbol of all that was immovable and unchangeable (Psalm 93:1 &c.; Isaiah 54:10). Mount Zion is here named in particular, partly because the Psalm concerns the inhabitants of Jerusalem, partly because it was so intimately connected with an irrevocable Divine purpose (Isaiah 14:32; Isaiah 28:16). It is the confidence of Israel, rather than its prosperity, which is as firm as the rock of Zion. No storms of trial can shake it.

shall be] Supply rather, are.

which cannot be removed] Which shall not be shaken. Cp. the metaphorical use of the word in Psalm 16:8; Psalm 112:6-7, &c.

1–3. The confidence of true Israelites in Jehovah, and Jehovah’s protecting care for His people.Verse 1. - They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion; rather, are as Mount Zion; i.e. are as firmly fixed and established as "the mount of God," which cannot be removed, but abideth forever (comp. Isaiah 28:16). It is commonly rendered, "If it had not been Jahve who was for us." But, notwithstanding the subject that is placed first (cf. Genesis 23:13), the שׁ belongs to the לוּלי; since in the Aramaizing Hebrew (cf. on the other hand Genesis 31:42) לוּלי שׁ (cf. Arab. lawlâ an) signifies nisi (prop. nisi quod), as in the Aramaic (דּ) שׁ (לואי) לוי, o si (prop. o si quod). The אזי, peculiar to this Psalm in the Old Testament, instead of אז follows the model of the dialectic אדין, Arab. iḏan, Syr. hāden (הידין, הדין). In order to begin the apodosis of לוּלי (לוּלא) emphatically the older language makes use of the confirmatory כּי, Genesis 31:42; Genesis 43:10; here we have אזי (well rendered by the lxx ἄρα), as in Psalm 119:92. The Lamed of היה לנו is raphe in both instances, according to the rule discussed above, p. 373. When men (אדם) rose up against Israel and their anger was kindled against them, they who were feeble in themselves over against the hostile world would have been swallowed up alive if they had not had Jahve for them, if they had not had Him on their side. This "swallowing up alive" is said elsewhere of Hades, which suddenly and forcibly snatches away its victims, Psalm 55:16; Proverbs 1:12; here, however, as Psalm 124:6 shows, it is said of the enemies, who are represented as wild beasts. In Psalm 124:4 the hostile power which rolls over them is likened to an overflowing stream, as in Isaiah 8:7., the Assyrian. נחלה, a stream or river, is Milel; it is first of all accusative: towards the stream (Numbers 34:5); then, however, it is also used as a nominative, like לילה, המּותה, and the like (cf. common Greek ἡ νύχθα, ἡ νεόντητα); so that תה- is related to ת- ( ה-) as נה-, מו- to ן- and ם- (Bttcher, 615). These latest Psalms are fond of such embellishments by means of adorned forms and Aramaic or Aramaizing words. זידונים is a word which is indeed not unhebraic in its formation, but is more indigenous to Chaldee; it is the Targum word for זדים in Psalm 86:14; Psalm 119:51, Psalm 119:78 (also in Psalm 54:5 for זרים), although according to Levy the MSS do not present זידונין but זידנין. In the passage before us the Targum renders: the king who is like to the proud waters (למוי זידוניּא) of the sea (Antiochus Epiphanes? - a Scholium explains οἱ ὑπερήφανοι). With reference to עבר before a plural subject, vid., Ges. 147.
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