Psalm 125 – Like Mount Zion (Sermon Notes)

Psalm 125

Text: Psalm 125
Title: Like Mount Zion
Date: July 31st, 2022
Location: Christ Covenant Church – Centralia, Washington


  • When was the last time that we had a godly Christian Governor in the state of Washington?
  • When was the last time that we had a Governor who met the qualifications of Exodus 18:21 which says that: Rulers must be taught and know the law of God…and “Moreover, you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, who hate a bribe…”
    • Deut. 1:13, 17 adds that they must be: “wise, understanding, and knowledgeable men…[and] You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is God’s.”
  • Who was the last governor who met these qualifications for office?
    • I don’t know the answer to this question. There have been 22 governors since Washington state was admitted to the Union in 1889.
    • But at least within my lifetime (Born in Seattle in 1989), there have only been 5 governors, all Democrats: Jay Inslee, Christine Gregoire, Gary Locke, Mike Lowry, and Booth Gardner.
    • I do not know the personal beliefs of these 5 governors, but we do have a public record of their executive orders, judicial appointments, public proclamations, bills signed, etc.
      • And based on just those actions alone one thing is clear, the agenda is not, and has not ever been, submission and obedience to Jesus Christ.
      • Our governors have not heeded Psalm 2: “Be wise, O kings, be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling, Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way…”
        • Has Jay Inslee kissed the son? Has Joe Biden kissed the son? No wonder God is angry…
      • Our governors, our president has not heeded Romans 13, which commands the punishing of evil (as defined by God) and the praising of the good (as defined by God). In many cases they have done the reverse.
    • As of this last week, the homepage of the Governor’s official website, is a picture of a woman holding up a sign that says, “Abortion is healthcare.” And attached to it is an article which says the following: “California has banded together with Oregon and Washington to stand up for women, and to protect access to reproductive health care. We will not sit on the sidelines and allow patients who seek reproductive care in our states or the doctors that provide that care to be intimidated with criminal prosecution. We refuse to go back and we will fight like hell to protect our rights and our values.” (Homepage of the governor’s website.)
      • Your governor, together with Oregon and California, is willing to “fight like hell” to protect the “right” for a woman to hill her baby.
      • What do you call that? To quote Psalm 2 again, this is “rulers taking counsel together against the Lord and His Messiah…”
      • Wicked rulers defying the law of God to His face, daring Him to judge us.
  • So that’s the highest human office in Washington state, and the question is, what are Christians to do who are living under this kind of government? What recourse do the saints have when they are living under the scepter of wickedness?
  • Well Psalm 125 has answers for us. So let us turn and consider the background and context for this Psalm.


Psalm 125 is one of the 15 Psalms of Ascent, which begins with Psalm 120 and ends with Psalm 134. And these are Psalms that were likely sung as the Jews travelled up to Jerusalem for their various festivals. These are pilgrimage psalms.

  • If you were taking a road trip to Jerusalem, these would be the soundtrack for your drive.
  • We are not told (as we are in other Psalms) when this Psalm was written or who wrote it, but the context of for all of these Psalms of Ascent likely comes from the last line in the Hebrew Bible.
    • Now the Hebrew Bible is ordered differently than our English Old Testament, so whereas our last book is Malachi, the last book in the Hebrew canon is what we call 2 Chronicles. And the final verse of 2 Chronicles says this: “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up!” (2 Chr. 36:23).
    • The last word and last line is this invitation for Jews to go up/to ascend. In Hebrew it’s this word (עלה). And this is the same Hebrew root we are given in the title of these 15 Psalms of Ascent.
    • And so commentators have pointed out that these songs of ascent, these “songs of the going up,” have the context of faithful Jews who after their temple had been destroyed, and they had been scattered throughout the empire, are finally invited to return to their homeland, return to Jerusalem, and rebuild the house of God.
    • We see this explicitly in the Psalm that comes right after Psalm 125. Psalm 126 starts with, “when the LORD brought back the captivity of Zion…”
    • We see this also earlier in Psalm 121 which begins with, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence comes my help.” Referring to the danger of traveling through the Judean hillside on the way up to Jerusalem.
  • So these 15 songs of ascent tell a story. They capture the sorrow and sadness of exile (of living in a foreign land), the danger of embarking on this journey back to Jerusalem, and also the future hope and anticipation for a day when God dwells in Zion again.
  • So that is the broader context for Psalm 125, it is a song of ascent, a song for pilgrims journeying to Mount Zion. Let us turn now to its contents.

There are three parts to this Psalm, which we could be put into three heads for our sermon:

  1. Verses 1-2 describe the Faithful.
  2. Verse 3 gives us a Promise.
  3. And then the last two verses (vs. 4-5) give us a Prayer.
  1. A Picture of the Faithful (1-2)
  2. A Promise to the Righteous.  (3)
  3. A Prayer for Judgment. (4-5)

So let’s unpack each of these sections.

#1 – A Picture of the Faithful

Verses 1-2 say,

1      Those who trust in the Lord

Are like Mount Zion,

Which cannot be moved, but abides forever.

2      As the mountains surround Jerusalem,

So the Lord surrounds His people

From this time forth and forever.

Here we are given an image of what trusting God does to someone.

How does living faith transform you?

  • Answer: Those who trust in the Lord are like a mountain. And not just any mountain, like Mount Zion.
    • Zion was the city of David, Zion is where the Messiah’s throne is. Psalm 2:6 says, “Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion.”
    • Psalm 48:2-3 says, “Beautiful in elevation, The joy of the whole earth, Is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. God is in her palaces, He is known as her refuge.”
    • Those who trust the King, become like the King’s Mountain: immovable forever.
  • Now what does this mean to be unmoved forever? Because most of us in this room trust God, have walked with him our whole lives, and yet, there are all kinds of trials, and suffering, and circumstances that seem to move us. So what does this mean that trusting God makes us like Mount Zion?
  • Well let’s start with what it doesn’t mean.
    • Being like Mount Zion does not mean that foreign armies never conquer you. Babylon conquered Jerusalem.
    • Being like Mount Zion does not mean that your house never gets plundered and left desolate. Again, Babylon plundered and laid waste to Zion (this is what the book of Lamentations is about).
    • Being like Mount Zion does not mean that you are exempt from God’s discipline. If anything, it means the opposite! It says in 1 Peter 4:17, “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
  • So what it does mean to be like Mount Zion is:
    • You are holy dwelling place for God.
    • You are His palace, the place where the King lives and rules. As Paul says, “you are the temple of Holy Spirit.” The temple is the King’s house.
    • When you trust God, and confess that Jesus is Lord, you are identified as holy real estate, a royal possession.
      • And with that identification comes certain privileges, certain blessings: like everlasting protection, salvation, the resurrection of the body, entrance into the New Heavens and New Earth in which righteousness dwells.
      • Trusting in the LORD gives you the most important things in the world: communion with the Triune God. Fellowship with your Creator. Life eternal with Him.
  • And so if you are not a Christian, I would invite you to trust Him, there is no better offer than this! Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion.
  • And if you are a Christian, I would exhort you, “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God (Heb. 3:12).
  • Because we could also ask ourselves: If those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, what are those who do not trust in the LORD like?
    • Well, the unbelieving man or woman, is someone that is easily moved. James says, “For he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
    • Jesus says, those who hear his words and do not do them, are like a foolish man who builds his house on the sand.
    • So who do you want to be like? What do you want to be like? A house with no foundation, a wave, or do you want to be like an immoveable mountain, like Zion?
    • Trust in the LORD is what separates the two.
  • The Apostle Paul says to the Ephesian Elders in Acts 20, “And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem (Paul is ascending), not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
    • Paul was like Mount Zion. He knew that persecution, chains, tribulation, and death awaited him. And yet, Paul was unmoved.
    • How was that possible? Was it just because he was an apostle?
      • Well no, Psalm 125 does not say, “Those who are apostles will be like Mount Zion, it says, “those who trust in the Lord.”
      • So what specifically was Paul trusting the Lord to do? What guarantee can you and I bank on such that we also are unmoved, come what may?
    • I believe the answer is given to us in Romans 8:38-39, where Paul tells us what his own inner conviction was: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
    • What makes someone like Mount Zion, what makes us immoveable, is the knowledge and conviction that God loves us and will never leave us. “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people…forever.”
    • Do you believe this? Do you trust Him?
  • Well that is the picture we are given of the faithful, in verse 3 we are given a promise.

#2 – A Promise to the Righteous

3      For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest

On the land allotted to the righteous,

Lest the righteous reach out their hands to iniquity.

The first thing we can learn from this is that:

  • If we are living under a scepter of wickedness, it is because some of us are indeed unrighteous.
  • The saints can be a righteous remnant, they can be salt and light that keep the city from being utterly destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah, but in the normal course of things, a man reaps what he sows. He gets what he asks for.
  • Unrighteous citizens elect unrighteous rulers, and God often gives them the tyranny and slavery they desire. And so what is judgment/punishment on unbelievers, is discipline/testing for the righteous. And that is the state most of us our living in. Enduring the consequences of both the church’s apostasy and compromise, and the world’s worldliness.

So what then is the promise for the righteous?

  • First, we need to ask: To what land does this refer?
    • This language of “allotment” sigifies the Promised Land, the land that Joshua conquered and then divided amongst the twelve tribes by the casting of lots.
    • But when we get to the New Testament, we see that Jesus extends the boundaries of the promised land to encompass the entire earth. As it says in Revelation 21:7, “He who overcomes shall inherit all things.”
    • Or in the sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5)
    • We see also in Ephesians 6 Paul expands the blessing of the 5th commandment from the promised land (Ex. 20), to the entire earth: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
    • That was delivered to the Ephesians, and if you don’t know geography well, Ephesus is about 1,200 miles from Jerusalem.So Paul says that obedient Ephesian boys and girls, will live long in Ephesus. Because in Christ, whatever belongs to Jesus, belongs to us. And what belongs to Jesus? Everything.
    • So all the world is land allotted to the righteous.
  • Next we might ask, is the promise then that no wicked ruler will ever reign over us?
    • Answer: No. The history of Israel and the church bears this out. There were many times when tyrants rose to power to punish God’s people. Read the book of Judges.
    • If we look more closely, the promise is that that scepter will not rest there, that is, it will not take up permanent residence. The godless will not rule over the godly forever.
  • It might seem like there is no end in sight, it might look like the wicked are increasing in power, winning elections, passing legislation. But what does Proverbs 21:1 say? “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.”
  • What did God do to Pharoah before the Exodus?
  • What did God do to Sennacherib in the days of Hezekiah? (Killed 185,000 in one night.)
  • What did God do to Nebuchadnezzar, to Balshazzar, and to Cyrus king of Persia?
  • What is the story of Scripture but God making kings and kingdoms to do his bidding.
    • He raises up tyrants to execute his judgments, He makes Babylon his lion and Persia his bear Greece his Leopard, and Rome his dragon. And when he’s done with them, he shatters them to pieces. The scepter of wickedness shall not reign forever.
    • What does this mean for us today?


  • It means that Washington state, and Oregon, and California, and every other state. And every other nation, is governed by Jesus Christ.
  • And just like God would not allow Roe v. Wade to continue for more than one Jubilee cycle (50 years), and just like God cut the great tribulation short for the sake of His elect, so also He has set limits upon every other scepter of wickedness.
    • Gay “Marriage” won’t be a thing for long.
    • The woke mob won’t be a thing for long.
    • Stating your preferred pronouns won’t be a thing for long.
    • We don’t know the time-limits God has set, but we have this promise that it will be cut short, “lest the righteous reach out their hands to iniquity.”
    • God knows what the saints can handle, and though he tests us, and tries us, and disciplines us, he does not do so beyond out ability (1 Cor. 10:13). And one day, together with Abraham, we will inherit all things. When the scepter of Christ shall be all in all.
  • Finally, we come to verses 4-5, which are a prayer for judgment. How then shall we pray in the meantime?

#3 – A Prayer for Judgment

4      Do good, O Lord, to those who are good,

And to those who are upright in their hearts.

5      As for such as turn aside to their crooked ways,

The Lord shall lead them away

With the workers of iniquity.                                                              

Peace be upon Israel!

There are 3 petitions in this prayer.

  1. We ask for God’s blessing and favor on the upright.
    1. When the government is not rewarding good and punishing evil, the righteous are tempted to say, “what’s the use.” “In vain I have kept my hands clean” (Ps. 73).
      1. It is easy to become frustrated, discouraged, to become cynical, and to lose that trust we are to have in the LORD.
      1. And so we must pray against this hardness of heart, and ask God to make us like the land of Goshen during the Egyptian plagues (there’s hail over there, but not on our household). We ask God to Passover our homes, while he judges our nation.
      1. We ask him to plunder the Egyptians for us. It says in Proverbs 13:22, “the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.”
    1. So we ask for God’s blessing, but we askonly after we have made sure that we are indeed good and upright in heart, that we have not stretched out our hands to iniquity, that we have not fallen in love with the world. Because otherwise, we might call this second petition down upon our own heads…
  2. We ask God to remove the wicked from the land.
    1. There are two categories of people listed in this petition
      1. One is (1) “those who turn aside to their crooked ways” and the other is…(2) “the workers of iniquity.”
      1. “Workers of iniquity” are the godless, the heathen, those walking the broad and easy way to hell whereas…
      1. “Those who turn aside” are those who once walked the straight and narrow, those who once attended church alongside of you, perhaps they even received the word with joy, and yet because they had no root in themselves, they endure only for a time, until they like Demas having loved this present world fall away.
      1. And so yes, we pray for their repentance, yes we pray for them to turn back, but we also pray that God will judge the reprobate. That the land might be healed and cleansed of the wicked.
      1. It is fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
  3. Finally, We ask for peace/shalom upon Israel.
    1. Now some take this as a prayer for peace in modern day Israel, which is fine and good to pray for, but that is not what this is referring to.
    1. This is a prayer for peace upon the true Israel, the church of Jesus Christ, the New Jerusalem, peace upon those who have in worship this morning have come to that Heavenly Zion (Heb. 12). All of us who have been grafted into that olive branch (Rom. 11) of God’s people. This is a prayer for peace in the church.
    1. Shalom is that rest that weary saints desire. And it is the purpose for which we wage the good warfare, and fight the good fight of faith.
    1. As Paul says in 1 Timothy 2, “I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.”
    1. We pray for our leaders because we desire peace.
      1. Peace to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
      1. Peace to build homes that our grandchildren can inherit.
      1. Peace to start businesses that will bless our neighbors.
      1. Peace to worship God in spirit and in truth.
      1. This is why want a Christian government. That God’s blessing and favor would rest upon our land.


There was a time in America, when you had to be a confessing Protestant Christian in order to hold public office.

  • This is the oath that magistrates had to take in Pennsylvania in 1705: “I profess faith in God the Father and in Jesus Christ his eternal son, the true God, and in the Holy Spirit, one God blessed for evermore; and do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.”
    • That was the oath in Pennsylvania, and there were similar requirements in South Carolina, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maryland, Georgia, New Jersey, and Delaware.
  • A lot has changed in 300 years. But God’s word and His promises never change.
  • If we will again trust in the Lord, He will make us like Mount Zion.
  • If we will repent of our unrighteousness and call others to do the same, the scepter of wickedness shall not remain.
  • If we will turn to the Lord with all our hearts, trusting the one who died and rose again for our salvation, He will by no means cast us off. For of the increase of peace and of his government, there shall be no end. In the name of Father and the Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.