Advent Psalm Reflection: Psalm 125—Steadfast Faith and Righteous Paths (Pt. 1 of 3)

Advent Psalm reading for December 18, 19, & 20: Psalm 125.

The Power of Trust in Psalm 125

Psalm 125 is another psalm of ascent. These psalms are thought to have been sung as liturgy during pilgrimage toward the temple. It is an uplifting psalm that contains a prayer for peace over the land in which God’s people reside. As we begin our exploration of Psalm 125, let’s focus on its opening verses, where the theme of trust in God is likened to the stability and strength of Mount Zion.

The psalm may be thought of as a poem of three parts. The first is a praise for trust in God. Trust strengthens a person so that they are firmly planted, as strong and as grounded as a great mountain. A divine shelter surrounds those whose trust is in God.

Those who trust in the LORD
are like Mount Zion
that cannot be moved,
enduring forever. 

Jerusalem, hills enfold it,
and the LORD enfolds His people
now and forever

Leadership and Righteousness: A Central Theme

The central verse of Psalm 125 brings a shift in focus, underscoring the crucial role of leadership in fostering righteousness, and serves as a caution against the corrupting influence of wicked rulers. It reads as a warning that if leadership rules with wickedness (corruption), it will corrupt the righteous. The scepter refers to the rulers. Righteousness is not granted; it must be evidenced by a person’s or a people’s behavior. Righteous leaders will foster righteousness in their community. However, a corrupt leader will be known by a society of corruption.

The scepter of the wicked shall never rest
upon the land allotted to the righteous,
that the righteous not set their hand to wrongdoing.

The verse has a prayer-like quality, so another way to read this verse is “may it never be that the wickedness or corruption will rule over the land God has set apart for the righteous, because this would cause the righteous to engage in wrongdoing.” It is a warning about holding leaders accountable for wicked behavior. Following verses 1-2, this verse provides a reason to turn to God for accountability and safety.

A Prayer for Divine Protection and Guidance

As we approach the final verses, the Psalm transitions into a heartfelt prayer, appealing for divine protection for the righteous and guidance for those led astray by corruption.

Do good, O LORD, to the good,
to the upright in heart.

But those who in their crookedness act corruptly,
let the LORD make them go the way of evildoers.

Seeking Peace and Righteousness

The psalm leads us in an appeal for God to protect those who do good and send those who do evil along another path so they cannot harm those on the path toward righteousness. The psalm ends with a common blessing, shalom al-yisrael, “peace upon Israel,” but in Psalm 125 it is also a prayer. May righteousness succeed so that their nation will be whole and at peace before God.

Reflections for Advent: Trust, Leadership, and Community

Psalm 125 reminds us that the way of the righteous will be tested, and it is our trust, our faith, that helps us stand firm in God’s presence. Our leaders must be held accountable to act righteously, because it is hard to keep the way of goodness under corrupt leadership. It is up to us to pray that the wicked will move out of the way, so that we can walk the way of righteousness in our communities, in our families, and in our lives.

Cultivating Shalom in Our Journey

Reflecting on Psalm 125 during Advent invites us to think on the enduring significance of faith and trust in God amidst trials. It reminds us of the responsibility of our leaders to uphold righteousness and the collective role we play in maintaining the path of goodness. This Psalm, with its call for accountability and its prayer for peace, echoes the Advent message of hope and preparation. As we journey through this season, let us be inspired to cultivate steadfast faith, advocate for righteous leadership, and contribute towards building communities grounded in justice and peace. May the assurance that ‘those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion’ fortify our spirits, guiding us to walk confidently on the path of righteousness, fostering shalom – peace and wholeness – in our lives and in the world around us.

Coming Up on Advent Psalm Reflection

The next installment will continue to explore this theme of righteousness and wickedness by reading Psalm 125 alongside the accompanying Old Testament scripture in Malachi 3.

This entire series and a link to the liturgical readings on the Advent Psalm Reflections page.

*The translations are JPS from


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