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Psalm 128 is the ninth of fifteen psalms grouped together in the biblical canon, all labeled "A Song of Ascents." (So we are not quite 2/3 of the way through this series.) These 15 psalms constituted a portable songbook within the larger book of psalms. Of course, if you grew up in Israel, you wouldn't need the songbook. These 15 psalms are all short enough for a child to memorize easily. Only one of them is longer than 9 verses. (Psalm 132 is 18 verses long.) And three of the last four songs in the collection are only three verses long.
Again, all 15 psalms start with that inscription ("A Song of degrees.") These are the only psalms in the entire canon labeled that way. The inscriptions are part of the inspired text, so it's clear that these psalms were grouped together by God's design. In the King James Version the inscription is translated "A Song of degrees." The actual Hebrew text uses a word that signifies steps going upward. An uphill journey. Stepping heavenward. That's what a trip to Jerusalem is like if your starting point is anywhere else. Jerusalem was built on and around mount Zion, and no matter where you were coming from, you had to go up. If you came from Galilee, for example, you would start uphill just after you passed Jericho, and the rest of the journey was a long, hard uphill trek--about two full days' journey by foot, all uphill. From Jericho to Jerusalem was about 45 miles via a winding road that ascends some 3400 feet. Your legs would hurt when you got there. Grandma would have to be carried in a wagon pulled by an ox...
Phil Johnson is Executive Director of Grace to You, the media ministry of John MacArthur. Phil is also an elder at Grace Community Church, where he pastors the GraceLife fellowship group. He is probably best known for his websites, which include The Spurgeon Archive and The Hall of Church...