Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people from this time on and forevermore.
For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, so that the righteous might not stretch out their hands to do wrong.
Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts.
But those who turn aside to their own crooked ways the Lord will lead away with evildoers. Peace be upon Israel!
Psalm 125, NRSV
How profound it must have been to ascend toward Jerusalem while reciting this psalm. Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people from this time on and forevermore. The powerful nature of a mountain is most apparent to those who scale it, and its enveloping presence to those who gaze down from its height. As a people, to be surrounded by God’s presence as the mountains surround Jerusalem – what a powerful and palpable image to call on when inevitable difficulties arise.
The second powerful image: wickedness as a scepter – a symbol of power and rank, something to aspire to and seek. Wickedness as something that is powerful and appealing, something that looks beautiful, something hard to resist. Walking toward a cosmopolitan city, a seat of power, is walking toward those who hold what a scepter represents. The thoughts start coming…think of all the good I could do if I had power; think how much better life would be if I didn’t have to worry about money problems; how wonderful it would be to be the envy of others…
Evil is appealing, at least on the surface. What a wise thing to pray that the scepter of wickedness be removed. Because even the righteous can be tempted.