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Our text for this morning is Psalm 125, a short psalm of just five verses. This is the sixth of fifteen psalms in a row all labeled with the same inscription, "A Song of Ascents." These 15 psalms are a book of short choruses that have been grouped together deliberately and placed within the psalter at a strategic point, just after the longest psalm of all (which is also the longest chapter in the whole Bibleâ€”Psalm 119).
So Psalm 120 is the first of the psalms with this inscription ("Songs of Ascent") and the theme continues for fifteen psalms (through Psalm 134). Fifteen psalms in a row, then start with the same inscription: "A Song of Ascents" (or in the King James Version, "A Song of degrees.") And those 15 are the only psalms anywhere with that label, so it is clear that they were grouped together on purpose, and they go together for a reason.
A clue about why these psalms constitute a distinct set is in the inscription itself. The word translated "Ascents" (or "degrees") is the Hebrew maalah. It can refer to the degrees on a sundial, or the stories of a building, or the steps in a staircase. Plus, it carries the connotation of going upward, ascendingâ€”stepping heavenward...