When I was a child, I used to struggle with nightmares.
I would often wake up, run into my parents’ room, and climb in bed with them. The funny thing was, I wouldn’t be content until I had wormed my way in between them to the middle of the bed. It was at this point that I would feel surrounded, safe, and secure.
In Psalm 125, the writer says that as people trust in God, they will dwell in a secure place. The Lord God Almighty is a shield around them. He says that those who trust in the Lord “are like Mount Zion.”
Mount Zion is a hugely important part of Jewish culture. Originally a Jebusite fortress, King David conquered it and built a temple on it. The word “Zion” is also used as a name for heaven. It was also a perfect place for a city, because it was surrounded by mountains and very defensible. The Israelites believed that this holy place would endure forever. That’s why the Psalmist compares the Lord to the hills around Jerusalem and the people to Mount Zion.
Jesus promises this same security to His followers in Matthew 28 when He gave them their commission. He wanted them to know that as they went out into the world to make disciples, He would be with them. Though his physical body would not be with them, His Spirit would be – “to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
The Psalmist goes on to say, “The scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous…” (Psalm 125:3). While we don’t know exactly when this was written, it’s possible that it was when Israel was in exile in Babylon. The Israelites held onto the hope that if they confessed their sin and turned back to the Lord, God’s blessing would return – and they would be able to retake Mount Zion.
It also reminded them not to take things into their own hands, but to trust in God’s sovereign timing. All of us can think of a time when we have been wronged by somebody. If you’re like me, you often want retribution. But if there’s one thing we know is that God is a just God, and He will always deal with the wicked in His time. The Bible says, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil… Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay’” (Romans 12:17, 19). Too many people in the world today try to take things into their own hands. Rather than trusting God, they become hostile and seek revenge, which opens the door to evil. When we do so, we step out of God’s will and into the darkness where nightmares live.
The Psalmist concludes that the righteous can expect good outcomes, but the wicked have nothing to look forward to (Psalm 125:4). Jesus says something similar in the Gospels: If you have good stored up in your heart, then you will do good things; if you have bad, then you will do bad things (Matthew 12:34). In other words, if you know Jesus and you have the Holy Spirit inside of you, you will choose good things – and if you push God out, you will yield to sinful nature.
If an Israelite turned their back on God and broke His law, they would be cursed and forsaken. Under the New Covenant today, things are different (thank goodness). But like the Israelites, believers are God’s chosen people. When we receive Jesus into our lives, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit – and as we walk in the Spirit, good things happen. We experience the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). God will never leave or forsake us, but He will discipline those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:6).
If there’s an area of your life where you’re disobeying God, He will discipline you to get your attention – but that’s because He cares more about your holiness than your temporary happiness. He knows you won’t be truly happy until you’re holy, living securely in His embrace and obeying His commands (Psalm 125:5).
By reading this psalm, you can remember three things:
1. God is with you, and He will never let you down.
2. Trust God with whatever adversary you’re facing – physical, emotional, or spiritual.
3. If God is disciplining you and trying to get your attention, be willing to repent!
If you do this, you will find yourself leaving the nightmare behind and curling up in a place of peace and security by God’s side.
Pastor Toby Gallego
Riviera Baptist Church