Picture Postcards from the Psalmists -- By: Gordon Franz

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 22:1 (Winter 2009)
Article: Picture Postcards from the Psalmists
Author: Gordon Franz

Picture Postcards from the Psalmists

Gordon Franz


Most Bible believers who live outside the Land of Israel may read Psalm 125:2, “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people from this time forth and forever,”1 and think, “Humm, that’s a comforting and encouraging passage. The Lord surrounds His people. He protects us and watches over us forever.” Yet they may not fully appreciate the word picture used by the psalmist in the first part of the verse.

The ABR volunteers who worked on the Temple Mount Sifting Project in 2008 had the privilege of being guided through the City of David excavations by Aran Yardeni, an archaeological staff member of the TMSP and a graduate of Bar Ilan University. We started at an overview of the City of David on the top of a house situated only meters from where David’s palace once stood (Mazar 2007: 52-66). As we read Psalm 125 we looked to the east and saw the range of the Mount of Olives (Zee 14:4), the southern spur being called the Hill of Corruption (2 Kgs 23:13). To the north, we observed Mount Zion, also called Mount Moriah or the Mountain of the LORD (Ps 48:1, 2; 2 Chr 3:1; Mi 4:2). To the west was the Western Hill called the Mishnah in the Hebrew Bible, and usually translated into English as the “Second Quarter” (Zep 1:10; Jer 31:39; 2 Kgs 22:14). Finally, to the south of the city, off in the distance, was the Hill of Evil Counsel. Today the United Nations headquarters for the Middle East is situated on this ridge!

The psalmist composed this psalm in the City of David and literally saw the mountains surrounding Jerusalem and used this word picture to convey a dynamic and powerful spiritual truth; the Lord surrounds His people forever! What an impact that had on each of us who sifted debris from the Temple Mount.

Aran Yardeni pointing out the hills surrounding the City of David.
(Photo: Greg Gulbrandsen)

Hebrew Hymnbook For The Temple

The book of Psalms was the Hebrew Hymnbook for both the First and Second Temple and is still used in the synagogues today. Each psalm was composed by real people, who were experiencing real events in real places. This articl...

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