A song of ascents. 2
120:1 In my distress I cried out
to the Lord and he answered me.
from those who lie with their lips 5
and those who deceive with their tongue. 6
120:3 How will he severely punish you,
you deceptive talker? 7
with arrowheads forged over the hot coals. 9
For I have lived temporarily 11 in Meshech;
I have resided among the tents of Kedar. 12
120:6 For too long I have had to reside
with those who hate 13 peace.
but when I speak, they want to make war. 15
[120:1] 1 sn Psalm 120. The genre and structure of this psalm are uncertain. It begins like a thanksgiving psalm, with a brief notice that God has heard the psalmist’s prayer for help and has intervened. But v. 2 is a petition for help, followed by a taunt directed toward enemies (vv. 3-4) and a lament (vv. 5-7). Perhaps vv. 2-7 recall the psalmist’s prayer when he cried out to the Lord.
[120:1] 2 sn The precise significance of this title, which appears in Pss 120-134, is unclear. Perhaps worshipers recited these psalms when they ascended the road to Jerusalem to celebrate annual religious festivals. For a discussion of their background see L. C. Allen, Psalms 101-150 (WBC), 219-21.
[120:3] 7 tn Heb “What will he give to you, and what will he add to you, O tongue of deception?” The psalmist addresses his deceptive enemies. The
[120:5] 12 sn Meshech was located in central Anatolia (modern Turkey). Kedar was located in the desert to east-southeast of Israel. Because of the reference to Kedar, it is possible that Ps 120:5 refers to a different Meshech, perhaps one associated with the individual mentioned as a descendant of Aram in 1 Chr 1:17. (However, the LXX in 1 Chr 1:17 follows the parallel text in Gen 10:23, which reads “Mash,” not Meshech.) It is, of course, impossible that the psalmist could have been living in both the far north and the east at the same time. For this reason one must assume that he is recalling his experience as a wanderer among the nations or that he is using the geographical terms metaphorically and sarcastically to suggest that the enemies who surround him are like the barbarians who live in these distant regions. For a discussion of the problem, see L. C. Allen, Psalms 101-150 (WBC), 146.