Bible Commentaries
Psalms 125

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Psalms 125:0


The Lord Surrounds His PeopleMT IntroA Song of Ascents,of DavidThe Lord, the Strength of His PeoplePrayer for Deliverance from National Enemies(A Lament)The Security of God's PeopleGod Protects His Faithful
Psalms 125:1-3Psalms 125:1-2Psalms 125:1-5Psalms 125:1-2Psalms 125:1-2
Psalms 125:3 Psalms 125:3-5bPsalms 125:3
Psalms 125:4-5Psalms 125:4 Psalms 125:4
Psalms 125:5a-c Psalms 125:5a-b
Psalms 125:5cPsalms 125:5c

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Etc.

Verses 1-3

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 125:1-3 1Those who trust in the Lord Are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever. 2As the mountains surround Jerusalem, So the Lord surrounds His people From this time forth and forever. 3For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest upon the land of the righteous, So that the righteous will not put forth their hands to do wrong.

Psalms 125:1a “Those who trust in the Lord” This is the key condition of biblical faith. The concept is recurrent in the Psalter (BDB 105, KB 120, cf. Psalms 9:10; Psalms 21:7; Psalms 22:4-5; Psalms 25:2; Psalms 26:1; Psalms 28:7; Psalms 32:10; Psalms 37:3; Psalms 40:4; Psalms 55:23; Psalms 56:4, Psalms 56:11; Psalms 62:8; Psalms 84:12; Psalms 91:2; Psalms 112:7; Psalms 115:9, Psalms 115:10, Psalms 115:11; Psalms 125:1; Psalms 143:8). Often the same concept is expressed as

1. trust in the name - Psalms 33:21

2. trust in the mercy - Psalms 13:5; Psalms 52:8

3. trust in the word - Psalms 119:42

4. trust in the salvation - Psalms 78:22

The theologically related word for trust (BDB 52) is explained in the Special Topic: Believe, Trust, Faith and Faithfulness in the OT. The Greek counterpoint is explained in the SPECIAL TOPIC: Believe, Trust in the NT.

I have come to believe there are several basic elements to a true and mature biblical faith/trust.


2. faith/trust/believe

3. obedience (see Special Topic: Keep)

4. perseverance (see SPECIAL TOPIC: PERSEVERANCE)

Psalms 125:1b To see the full theological note and two Special Topics about these promises to national Israel, see my note at Psalms 122:6-9.

The LXX makes this line of poetry refer to YHWH (i.e., “he who inhabits Jerusalem will never be shaken”). Apparently this comes from the title of YHWH in Psalms 9:11.

Psalms 125:2 The imagery of “mountains” is used in several senses (see note at Psalms 121:1). Here it refers to the protection they provide from invaders. YHWH is the shield and protector of His people!

“forever” The term (BDB 761) is used in Psalms 125:1 and 2. It has several connotations related to covenant fidelity. See Special Topic: Forever ('olam).

Psalms 125:3 “the scepter” This (BDB 986) is a metaphor for kingship (i.e., YHWH as King, cf. Psalms 45:6). It is first used in a Messianic sense in Genesis 49:10 of a future Judean, Davidic (cf. 2 Samuel 7:0) king. Here of the promise that no (1) foreign king or (2) idolatrous Judean king shall reign over God's people. It is obvious this promise is conditional (i.e., Psalms 125:3b, Psalms 125:4).

The time frame of Psalms 125:3 is uncertain.

1. the enemy now controls Israel (present)

2. the enemy did control Israel (past)

3. the enemy will never control Israel (future)

“of wickedness” This could refer to

1. a foreign pagan ruler

2. an idolatrous Israelite ruler

It denotes one who deviates from YHWH's covenant requirements.

NASB “shall not rest upon the land” NRSV, JPSOA, REB“the land allotted” TEV“will not always rule over the land” NJB“will not come to rest over the heritage” LXX“over the allotment”

The Hebrew has a preposition and a noun (BDB 174), which denotes an inheritance. The imagery comes from Joshua's (i.e., Joshua 12-19) account of the Divinely-guided division of the land of Canaan to the Hebrew tribes by casting lots (cf. Psalms 16:5).

“the righteous” See Special Topic: Righteousness.


Verses 4-5

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 125:4-5 4Do good, O Lord, to those who are good

And to those who are upright in their hearts. 5But as for those who turn aside to their crooked ways, The Lord will lead them away with the doers of iniquity. Peace be upon Israel.

Psalms 125:4 “Do good” This is a Hiphil imperative(BDB 405, KB 408). God is “good” (BDB 373 II, cf. Psalms 86:5; Psalms 100:5; Psalms 106:1) and His people should reflect Him (cf. Deuteronomy 8:16).

Both Hebrew words for “good” are used in this verse.

Psalms 125:5 Notice how Psalms 125:4-5 characterizes two kinds of people (“to those who. . .”). This is known as “the two ways” (cf. Deuteronomy 30:15, Deuteronomy 30:19; Psalms 1:1). One's relationship with God can be seen by the way he/she lives life (cf. Matthew 7:15-23)! Eternal life has observable characteristics!

“crooked ways” A crooked way (BDB 785) is the exact opposite of the righteous way (cf. Psalms 5:8; Psalms 139:24; Psalms 143:10).

Notice the parallel ways of describing people.

1. “those who are good”

2. “those who are upright in heart”

3. “those who turn aside to their crooked ways”

4. “the doers of iniquity”

“Peace be upon Israel” Peace can be upon only a believing, faithful, righteous Israel. In the NT this refers to followers of Jesus Christ (cf. Galatians 6:16). Also note Romans 2:28-29; Romans 9:6; Galatians 3:7, Galatians 3:29; Philippians 3:3! The OT must be interpreted through the fuller revelation of Jesus and the NT!

The God of Peace and the Prince of Peace desire peace for those who trust them! See Special Topic: Peace (shalom).

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Psalms 125". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". 2021.