Woe to me that I dwell in Meshek,
that I live among the tents of Kedar!
Psalm 120:5 (NIV)
When I was a kid, our family of six made regular road trips to northwest Iowa to visit my grandparents, and each year we made our annual vacation trek in the ol’ Mercury station wagon (complete with faux wood paneling). I can remember music always being a big part of the journey. In those days, the in dash eight-track cassette player boomed the songs of Simon and Garfunkel and the Carpenters from those tapes that were about the size of a pop tart twin-pack. By my teen years, the tapes had gotten smaller and the music on those family road trips had switched to southern rock. By my college years, the Compact Disc had become the rage and the regular five hour road trip to and from school found me listening to a young Irish band called U2. Now, when I go on a business trip, I have my entire music library on a phone that is a fraction of the size of those old eight track tapes. I still make sure I have a good mix of music on a playlist ready for any trip.
Music for the journey is as old as mankind. The liner notes in the introduction of today’s psalm identifies it as a “song of ascents.” In ancient Jewish tradition, the center of worship was in Jerusalem on the temple mount. When people made a pilgrimage there, the songs of ascent were their music mix to sing along the way. The songs were intended to prepare their hearts to ascend to the temple and worship.
The songwriter identifies himself as living far from Jerusalem among foreign people. He is out of sorts and singing the blues. It struck a chord with me this morning as I sit in a hotel room far from home and prepare for a three hour road trip. There is a melancholy that sets in when your heart longs for home far away.
But, I’ve got my music with me and that is always a good thing.