The Psalms for a New Day website has just been redesigned and the website has moved to a new location. The page you are looking for has moved. Try the link below:
Looking for content on a specific topic?

Psalm 120

No safe place, but in God

As long as we’ve had them, our tongues, pens, and keyboards(!) have been our greatest asset and liability, both. They can set the world on fire. This psalm prays for rescue from the tongue’s incendiary powers.

A song of ascents.

I cried out to Yahveh in desperation
and he answered me.
2 Deliver me, Yahveh
from lips that lie
and tongues that twist!

3 You brazen deceivers
can’t you see what God will reward you with
and what perks he’ll throw in?
4 A hailstorm of arrows
with red-hot coals attached, that’s what!

5 How wretched to be an alien
stuck out here in the wilds of Meshek
with Kedar’s warlords on every hand!
6 I’ve lived way too long
among people who have no use for peace.
7 I’m all for peace
but whenever I say so
they’re bent on war.

This psalm begins a series of fifteen psalms pilgrims sang going up to Jerusalem to attend one of Israel’s annual feasts. Recounting her past deliverance, the psalmist seeks God’s help in her current crisis. Isolated, threatened, vulnerable, she pictures herself an alien in a hostile land, surrounded by warring tribes.

The psalmist may be attacked by gossips so intent on power that the hostility and insecurity they engender risk destroying the group. Alternatively, deception may be so endemic it’s destroying her culture’s social cohesion. This is increasingly true worldwide, thanks to our social media moguls and their politician-enablers, who selfishly enable their unprecedented power of connection to divide us as never before. Whoever she has in mind, they’re so addicted to wealth or power that they knowingly spread lies and chaos.

Such narcissists think they need only outswim the other sharks in the tank. But the psalmist says peddling distortion pits them against God, who will make sure everything their distortions bring them goes up in flames. Bartering the at-one-ness that fosters wholeness and hope in both individuals and societies ultimately robs us of everything. Either we sacrifice truth and whatever else gets in the way of our personal fiefdom—to our own undoing—or we prioritize peace and invest in what truly lasts.

Nothing has changed since the psalmist’s day, Lord, with families and whole societies often torn to shreds by vicious tongues. Deliver me from such evil! Give me words of peace and harmony to combat words of hate and aggression. Help me live as if you’re in control—for you are! Amen.

In your free moments today, pray these words:

Deliver me, Yahveh
from lips that lie and tongues that twist!

Why Yahveh?

Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and occasionally transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Modern translations, likewise, either translate or transliterate it. While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it is more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. I’ve chosen to transliterate it to root it more firmly in the biblical story as the name—meaning the “self-existent One”—that God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. This name set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it in order better to hallow it. In transliterating it, I follow the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard. He advocated transliterating it as Yahveh—pronounced yah·vay—arguing that following the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish than Yahweh.
May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Robert Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.