Eugene Peterson identifies the following key verses and key words to summarize the psalms from our reading for today:
Psalm 124—Help—“We have escaped as a bird from the snare.”
Psalm 125—Security—“The Lord is round about his people.”
Psalm 126—Joy—“Our mouth was filled with laughter.”
Psalm 127—Work—“Unless the Lord builds the house…”
Here are the insights from Peterson I found helpful today….
Psalm 124 is a magnification of the items of life that are thought to be unpleasant, best kept under cover, best surrounded with silence lest they clutter our lives with unpleasantness: the dragon’s mouth, the flood’s torrent, the snare’s entrapment; suffering, catastrophe, disaster. They are a very real part of life, and they constitute a dominating, fearful background for many. We look for relief among experts in medicine and psychology, and go to museums to get a look at beauty. Psalm 124 is an instance of a person who digs deeply into the trouble and finds there the presence of the God who is on our side. In the details of the conflict, the majestic greatness of God becomes revealed in the minuteness of a personal history. Faith develops out of the most difficult aspects of our existence, not the easiest. The person of faith is not a person who has been born, luckily, with a good digestion and sunny disposition. The assumption by outsiders that Christians are naïve or protected is the opposite of the truth: Christians know more about the deep struggles of life than others, more about the ugliness of sin….
The emphasis of Psalm 125 is not on the precariousness of the Christian life but on its solidity….
When mountain climbers are in dangerous terrain, on the face of a cliff or on the slopes of a glacier, they rope themselves together. Sometimes one of them slips and falls—backslides. But not everyone falls at once, and so those who are still on their feet are able to keep the backslider from falling away completely. And of course, in any group of climbers, there is a veteran and experienced climber in the lead, identified for us in the letter to the Hebrews as “Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection” (Heb. 12:2 JB).
Traveling in the way of faith and climbing the ascent to Christ may be difficult, but it is not worrisome. The weather may be adverse but it is never fatal. We may slip and stumble and fall, but the rope will hold us….
Joy is not a requirement of Christian discipleship, it is a consequence….
Joy is the verified, repeated experience of those involved in what God is doing….
Hilary of Tours taught that every Christian had to be constantly vigilant against what he called “Irreligiosa solicitudo pro Deo”—a blasphemous anxiety to do God’s work for him….
In contrast to the anxious labor that builds cities and guards possessions, the psalm praises the effortless work of making children….
For it makes very little difference how much money Christians carry in their wallets or purses. It makes little difference how our culture values and rewards our work … unless. For our work creates neither life nor righteousness. Relentless, compulsive work habits (“the bread of anxious toil”) which our society rewards and admires are seen by the psalmist as a sign of weak faith and assertive pride, as if God could not be trusted to accomplish his will, as if we could rearrange the universe by our own effort.