Psalm 125: Abide

Trust is a word that we use often. We talk about gaining trust and losing it, building it and breaking it. We say that trust must be earned while others have said that trust is a choice. I wonder if trust is another of those words that we say frequently but don’t define fully? What does it really mean to trust? Another question is, what is the outcome of trust? What does trust do, what does it accomplish, why does it matter? I’m not sure that we can answer all of our trust questions today, but I do believe that Psalm 125 can help us to see more clearly what it means to trust in the LORD.

This Song of Ascents begins with this picture promise, “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever.” Mount Zion is used as a picture of God’s promise of security and stability. The song of the pilgrims was not only about the place they were going to meet with God, but what God was doing and would do in them and for them. Trust in the LORD would produce strength, security and a promise that extends through eternity. Trust is an action that produces an outcome. To get to the outcome of eternal security we must first start by defining the action of trust. 

Trusting God might be one of the most spoken and least defined things in our Christian vernacular. When things are hard, when things are impossible, when there are things we don’t understand or that we don’t want to endure someone usually tells us to trust the Lord. When we tell our story of difficulty, disappointment or discouragement we usually make sure we stress that fact that even in the middle of all this, we are trusting the Lord. But what does that mean? What does it look like? How do we do it? 

Psalm 125 is a song that describes how God works for those who trust in Him. The Hebrew word that we translate as trust in verse 1 is “batah”, it’s literal meaning is “to hie for refuge”. Maybe you are like me, I had no idea what the word “hie” means, I had never seen or heard it before. It turns out, “hie” means, “to go quickly; hasten”. This means that to “trust in the LORD” is to “go quickly to the LORD for refuge”. Trust isn’t a feeling we have or a hope that things will turn out all right, it’s an action and a movement; according to the language here, it’s not even where we end up, it’s where we start off. The thing or the one we trust is where we go first, where we consciously give our attention. I’m not saying that the first thing that pops into our minds is the object of our trust. Anxiety comes, worry happens, fear creeps in, doubt rises, the question is, what’s our first action? Do we take every thought captive (II Corinthians 10:5), face every situation with prayer and petition (Philippians 4:6) and give thanks in all circumstances (I Thessalonians 5:18) or do we make our own plans, fight our own battles or go into our own caves? Do we play out the worst-case scenarios and indulge the familiar feelings or do we do the work (believe me it’s work) of reminding ourselves of what we know to be true about God’s character and remember what God has done in the past? 

Trust isn’t the feeling that everything will work out okay or the hope that God will take care of us, it’s the action of doing what the Scriptures say to believe in who the Scriptures have revealed God to be. Trust is Jesus quoting Scripture while Satan tempts Him to provide for Himself. It’s Moses telling Israel, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.” They were trapped, a sea in front of them and an army behind them. Moses had never seen a sea open; he had never seen Egypt’s army defeated, but he trusted God enough to repeat to Israel what he had heard from the LORD. Trust is Andrew, telling Jesus that there was a boy with a lunch of five loaves and three fish when they needed to find enough food to feed 5,000 men. Trust puts itself out there, it takes action, it believes tangibly and works tirelessly, not to make something happen, but to believe in the character of God even and sometimes especially in the face of uncertainty. 

“Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever.” Mount Zion is more than just where the city of Jerusalem is built, it’s the place where God dwells (Isaiah 8:18, Psalm 74:2) and most importantly, the place where the Messiah King has been established (Psalm 2:6). Mount Zion is a literal place, David reigned there, and Jesus will return and reign from there, but it is also figurative. If we are in Christ, the Holy Spirit is in us, we are His temple and Paul commanded us to let (that is an active action) the peace of Christ reign in our hearts. Just as God has ordained Zion, Jerusalem, to be His city, the place where Jesus will return to and reign from, He has ordained that those who trust in Him, who actively and quickly take refuge in Him, to be unmoved and greatest of all, to abide forever. 

In John 15, Jesus taught the parable of the vine, the branches and the gardener. He is the Vine, we are the branches and the Father is the Gardener. In that passage, He uses the Greek word we translate as “abide” 12 times. The word used is “meno” and it means “to sit down; by implication, to dwell, to remain”. The Hebrew word used in Psalm 125:1 has the same meaning, “to sit down”. Think of this, those who go quickly to God for refuge, will sit down with Him forever. Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you.” It was a call and a promise. “Sit with Me and I will sit with you. Trust Me and I will keep you.” 

The psalmist continued, “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore.” When we come to Him, He keeps us. When we abide in Him, He abides in us. When we submit to God, He surrounds us. Our salvation is not as weak as our faith, but as strong as God’s love. While we waver, He surrounds; we run, He remains; we hide, He seeks. Even when we are far from God, He is still near to us. We are surrounded because God abides. 

Our challenge and our encouragement today is to trust God, to go quickly to Him for refuge, to concentrate not on what’s happening but what’s been promised, not on what we are unsure of but what we are secure in. Salvation is not something to be careful with but to revel in. It is supremely valuable but not at all fragile. The grace that saves us also keeps us saved. The Scriptures do not tell us to be mighty for salvation, but that God is mighty to save (Zephaniah 3:17). If He can save you, He will keep you, not just saved for heaven someday, but in the joy of salvation today and every day. What is that joy? It’s the joy of knowing we are loved, we are desired, we are enjoyed, we are being protected and provided for, heard and answered. The joy of believing that the Holy Spirit, God Himself lives in us and the Son of God intercedes for us. The joy of knowing that our hairs are numbered, our days are counted, and our hearts are known. The joy of salvation is not only the price that God paid for us, but the value that God has ascribed to us. We are His children, the sheep of His pasture, the apple of His eye, the desire of His heart. The action of trust leads to the peace of abiding in the joy of being surrounded. I pray that we will all learn to go quickly and find our refuge in this one final statement from Jesus about our Father, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” We can trust Him because He enjoys taking care of us; that is the place our hearts can abide.  


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