Songs of Ascent: In-Depth Bible Study With Modern Applications

This post is all about the songs of ascent

Have you ever wondered what the Songs of Ascent in the Bible are all about?

When we think of the Jewish people in exile, images of sadness and despair often come to mind. But what about when they would sing the songs of ascent? What might have been going through their heads as they praised the Lord while far away from Jerusalem?

Well…join me as I take an in-depth look at the Holy text and see how they can apply to our modern lives. Whether you’re a seasoned Bible scholar or just beginning your faith journey, this study will undoubtedly provide new insights and perspectives on God’s Word.

Ready? Let’s go!

What are Songs of Ascents?

The Songs of Ascent, also known as Psalms of Degrees or Psalms of ascents, are a group of fifteen Psalms (120-134) in the Bible that Jewish pilgrims sang.

There are many theories as to why the songs were sung. Let’s look at three theories:

Theory 1- Repetition

The first theory for the song of ascent is that it has a repetitive nature. This can be seen in some of the psalms, as well as in other passages throughout scripture.

Psalm 128 is a great example of the repetitive nature of the song of ascent. This psalm features multiple repetitions, including “Fear the Lord” (verses 1-4) and “blessed is everyone who fears the Lord” (verse 4). These statements are repeated several times in order to emphasize their importance and provide an emotional connection with readers/listeners.

However, this repetition isn’t consistent throughout the entire collection of the songs of ascent. So I don’t personally believe in this theory.

Theory 2- Sung in a loud or high voice

The second theory is that the song of ascent was sung in a loud or high voice. This is based on a statement by Saadiah Gaon, an important Jewish thinker, and leader from the 10th century. He wrote that the “Song of Ascent” should be recited “in a voice louder than usual.” This suggests that the song was meant to be heard not just by those who sang it but also by those around them.

If you want to read more on this Jewish thinkers work, read his work titled, “Saadiah Gaon’s Prolegomenon to Psalms.”

Theory 3- Ascension to Jerusalem (most plausible)

The third theory is that the “Song of Ascent” was typically sung by pilgrims as they made their way to Jerusalem for Passover, Weeks, and Feast of tabernacles (the three major festivals of the Jewish year). This theory suggests that the song was meant to be uplifting and inspiring as it reminded the pilgrims of God’s faithfulness and love.

Regardless of which theory one believes to be true, it is clear that the “Song of Ascent” has a special place in both Jewish and Christian worship. The words, melody, and emotional resonance of this song have been passed down for centuries and continue to be sung today.

I personally hold to the third theory, which is the most plausible and widely accepted! I believe that Jewish pilgrims sang these songs as they made their way up to Jerusalem – hence the name “songs of ascent.” 

I will center this blog post on theory 3.

P.S. I wrote an in-depth post on one of the Songs of Ascent (Psalm 126). You can read this later: The Harvest is Plenty! | Bringing in the Sheaves in the Bible

Summary of Psalm 120-134

Here is a summary of the songs of ascent. I encourage you to read the Psalms that particularly stand out for you.

  • Psalm 120: God is the source of our help; His strength and protection are available to us in times of distress. We can turn to Him for guidance and shelter.
  • Psalm 121: We can rely on the Lord for unfailing protection, no matter what danger or adversity we may face.
  • Psalm 122: We should always remember to be thankful, praise God for His blessings, and pray for peace.
  • Psalm 123: Our faithfulness and loyalty towards God require us to surrender our wills to Him and trust that He will always guide us when needed.
  • Psalm 124: We should be grateful for the Lord’s protection, as He is our only true source of security.
  • Psalm 125: We can rely on God as our defender and protector; His faithfulness will never fail us.
  • Psalm 126: Joy and gladness come from trusting in the Lord; we should constantly seek to grow in our devotion to Him.
  • Psalm 127: We must put our faith and trust in God’s plans, understanding that the Lord will guide us in His own time and way.
  • Psalm 128: A life of obedience to the Lord brings blessings; those who follow Him will be blessed and prosperous.
  • Psalm 129: The Lord’s love endures forever; despite the suffering that comes from affliction, we can trust in His faithfulness and grace.
  • Psalm 130: We must never forget that God’s mercy is greater than our sins; by calling out to Him for help, we can be assured of His forgiveness.
  • Psalm 131: We must keep our hearts humble and our spirit meek; we should never forget that God is the one who watches over us and provides for us.
  • Psalm 132: Our gratitude to the Lord must be offered with reverence; His promises are to be trusted and relied upon.
  • Psalm 133: Unity among believers is essential; we must strive to keep our relationships with each other strong so that we can experience the joy of God’s presence more fully among us.
  • Psalm 134: We should always thank the Lord for His goodness and faithfulness; He is worthy of our highest praise.

Reasons for singing songs of ascent

The songs of ascent were written during a time when the Jewish people were living in exile. This was a time of great sadness and hardship for them, as they were far away from their homeland. But despite their circumstances, they chose to praise the Lord with these songs.❤️


There are several reasons why the Jewish people might have decided to sing the songs of ascent while in exile.

  • First, singing these songs was a way for them to connect with God. Even though they were far from Jerusalem, they could still feel close to God through their music.
  • Second, singing these songs was a way for the Jewish people to express their hope for the future. They knew that one day they would be able to return to Jerusalem, and these songs helped them to keep that hope alive.
  • Finally, singing these songs was a way for the Jewish people to remember who they were. In exile, they were often treated as second-class citizens. But by singing the songs of ascent, they were reminded that they were still the people of God and that they had a rich history and culture to be proud of.

What does it mean to “ascend” spiritually?

When we think of the songs of ascent, most of us probably imagine a physical place. A place where we can go to escape the trials and tribulations of this world. But what if I told you that the songs of ascent are not a physical place at all? It’s a spiritual journey that takes us higher and higher until we reach our ultimate destination.

The songs of ascent are not just a bunch of words put together to make a song. They are powerful spiritual tools that can help us achieve our goals in life. Just like a physical journey, the songs of ascent take us on a journey to a higher place. But instead of taking us to a physical location, they take us to a spiritual one.

In Luke 24:44, Jesus tells his disciples to “sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, making music to the Lord in your hearts.” This shows us that worship is not just something we do on Sundays but something we can do every day. In addition, it shows us that we can worship and praise the Lord anytime, anywhere!

As you will discover later in the post, the songs of ascent are full of hope and encouragement. Yes, they are the perfect tool for anyone who is looking for motivation in their life. They also remind us that no matter how difficult the journey may be, we can always reach our destination if we keep moving forward. They also teach us that the only way to reach the top is by taking one step at a time.

These songs are also a powerful reminder that our spiritual walk is not about us but about God. He is the one who gives us strength for the journey, and He is the destination. When we keep our eyes on Him, we can ascend to new heights in our faith, no matter what challenges we face along the way.

How can we practically live out these “ascent” principles in our everyday lives?

“Ascending spiritually” means devoting oneself to a higher level of Biblical understanding and wisdom. It requires conscious steps of understanding that we are Spirit beings.

To ascend, we need to yield to the Spirit of God! Don’t buy into worldly, fleshly and new age mumbo jumbo that tells us that we can ascend by opening our “third eye” or by alignment of our chakras. The honest truth lies in the word of God. Without this, we cannot understand what God has freely given us (read 1 Corinthians 2:12 or 1 Corinthians 2:10-16)

Of course, we can apply other practical principles to ascend spiritually, but remember that our firm foundation is always Jesus and the Word of God.

Here are a few additional “ascent” principles:

  • First and foremost, it is essential to remain present at the moment and aware of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
  • Realizing that each moment presents us with a unique opportunity to grow.
  • Giving yourself grace
  • We can examine our beliefs and thought patterns to explore how they might be limiting us and holding us back – this kind of self-reflection allows us to recreate our narrative toward growth.
  • We should also aim to practice gratitude by taking a few moments each day to acknowledge what we are thankful for.
  • Finally, making time for acts of kindness, such as volunteering our time or donating money, supports us in embracing altruism in tangible ways.

In essence, spiritual ascension is about stepping out from the matrix of the mundane existence we have been accustomed to so that we can find new ways to thrive by abiding in Christ Jesus. Through this truth, we can increase in true joy and true purpose.

7 ways how the songs of ascent can help us in our faith and purpose journey

1. Joy

The Songs of Ascent remind us of the joy that comes from trusting the Lord.

Psalm 126:3 says, “The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” When our faith is strong, and we have hope in God’s promises, we can experience true joy that no other earthly thing can provide.

2. Hope

The Songs of Ascent also bring a sense of hope to those who are struggling or feeling discouraged in their journey.

Psalm 130:5 states, “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.” This verse reminds us to keep hoping even when times are difficult.

3. Comfort

The Songs of Ascent also provide comfort to those who are suffering or in distress.

Psalm 121:1-2 reads, “I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” This verse reminds us that even in our darkest times, God is with us and will never leave us nor forsake us.

4. Strength

The Songs of Ascent can strengthen us when we feel weak and tired on our journey.

Psalm 127:2 says, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.” This verse reminds us that God will always provide us with rest and strength, even if we have to wait for it.

5. Guidance

The Songs of Ascent can encourage us to seek paths of righteousness when we become lost or confused in our journey.

Psalm 128:1-2 states, “Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.” These verses remind us that as long as we stay close to God and honor His ways, He will guide us and bless us.

6. Protection

The Songs of Ascent also give us reminds us of God’s protection from evil and danger during our journey.

Psalm 129:1-2 says, “They have attacked me mercilessly, but they will not triumph over me. The LORD is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.” These verses remind us that God is always there to protect us and will never leave us to face danger alone.

7. Worship

Lastly, the Songs of Ascent help us to focus our attention on God’s greatness and power in order to worship Him more fully.

Psalm 134:3 states, “May the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion!” This verse reminds us that no matter what we’re going through on our journey, we can always turn to God and worship Him for His greatness.

What is your song of ascent?

Quick question: What song will you sing when things are tough, and you are struggling? What song will you sing in your dry season?

When we are going through tough times, it is crucial to have a song of ascent. This is a song that will help us to keep going and to remember who we are in Christ. It could be an actual Bible verse or chapter you have memorized or a song. This can be a powerful tool in our arsenal against the enemy. When we are struggling, we can sing our song of ascent and know that God is with us. We can have hope in the midst of our struggle because we know that He is faithful.

Scripture tells us in Psalm 42: “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” This is a powerful verse that reminds us of our need for God. We can have all the money in the world, but if we don’t have God, we will always be thirsty. This is what our song of ascent should be about. It should be about our thirst for God and our desire to be with Him.

Another verse that discusses this topic is Psalm 63: “O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.” This verse tells us that even in the midst of a dry and weary land, we can still find our hope and strength in God. He is the living water that we need. Our song of ascent should be about our longing for God and our desire to be with Him.

I’ve noticed that the Holy Spirit will impress a particular song when I’m going through a specific season. It becomes an anthem of sorts, a declaration. It makes me realize the true importance of the worship ministry.

So what is your song of ascent? What will you sing when things are tough, and you are struggling? Take some time to think about this and ask God to help you find your song of ascent. It could be a powerful tool in your life!

And that’s it, folks, songs of ascent

The Songs of Ascent give us a way to connect with God’s Word in a tangible way and provide us with the encouragement that we need to keep going on our faith journey.  

The Songs remind us to turn to the Lord in all aspects of life and trust His plans, even when it seems difficult or impossible. Through these psalms, we can be encouraged to remain faithful, humble, and united, knowing that God will always be there to provide comfort and guidance. We can rely on Him for protection and provision as His love endures forever. He deserves all honor, glory, and praise!

May we continually strive to grow closer to the Lord and keep our eyes fixed on Him, trusting in His faithfulness and grace!


Heather Chesiyna_Signature_MOS

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