There are a set of Psalms that bear the subtitle “A Song of Ascents”.
There are fifteen of these Psalms, viz. 120-134.
Why do they bear the subtitle, “A Song of Ascents”?
Here is why . . .
~ During certain times of the years, the Israelites used to observe certain festivals (Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles, etc.) Part of what this observance involved was a pilgrimage – a pilgrimage to the city of Jerusalem. This is where the temple was.
Here is the thing about the city of Jerusalem though… It was situated on top of a hill. And this was no small hill. It was fairly sizable.
So as the Israelites would converge upon the hill from the various parts of Israel, and then proceed to climb the hill, they would sing certain Psalms. Can you guess which Psalms they sang as they ascended up the hill to get to Jerusalem?
Exactly. The Songs of Ascent.
Actually beautiful picture emerges from all of this. The picture is that of various groups of people coming from all over Israel and surrounding the hill and then climbing up. And as they climb, they also sing.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?”
~ Psalm 121:1 (A Song of Ascents)
And as various groups of Israelites would make their journey up the hill, all the while singing, they would meet other groups of Israelites – fellow pilgrims. And as they met one another, they would all join their voices and sing together and the praise would get louder and louder as they ascended up the hill.
Finally as they got to Jerusalem, here even the priests would be involved in playing musical instruments and in singing and and the city would in effect explode in praise. The city and the mountain in effect were turned into a mountain of praise and a city of praise. Almost like a volcano of praise!
I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
2 Our feet have been standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem!
~ Psalm 122:1-2
In this world, Christians are pilgrims. We are headed up Mount Zion, on our way to the New Jerusalem. As we make our journey, we too sing songs – songs of ascent.