Psalm 122 A song of ascents. Of David. (1) I rejoiced with those who said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD." (2) Our feet are standing in your gates, Jerusalem. (3) Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together. (4) That is where the tribes go up- the tribes of the LORD- to praise the name of the LORD according to the statute given to Israel. (5) There stand the thrones for judgment, the thrones of the house of David. (6) Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: "May those who love you be secure. (7) May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels." (8) For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, "Peace be within you." (9) For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your prosperity. NIV
Psalm 122 is a Psalm of Ascents, also called Pilgrim Psalms, Song of Steps, Song of Degrees, or Gradual Psalms. There are fifteen of these songs in the Psalter (Psalms 120-134). Bible scholars believe that Jewish pilgrims would sing these songs as they entered the city of Jerusalem for the three annual feasts as required by the Lord in the Old Testament.
Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the LORD empty-handed. Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you. Deuteronomy 16:16-17 NIV
Four of the fifteen Pilgrim Songs are attributed to the hand of David, including this one.
David wrote it [Psalm 122] for the people to sing at the time of their goings up to the holy feasts in Jerusalem. It comes third in the series and appears to be suitable to be sung when the people had entered the gates, and their foot stood within the city.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
David wrote Psalm 122 with a spirit of prophecy. He never made a journey as a pilgrim from afar, entering into Jerusalem to celebrate one of these feasts. But he wrote for those to come, who after a long hard road, finally stood within the walls of the great city that he loved.
Psalm 122 is titled Let Us Go to the House of the LORD A Song of Ascents. Of David. (ESV); A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David. (NLT), The Joy of Going to the House of the LORD A Song of Ascents. Of David. (NKJV), and Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem. A Song of Ascents, of David. (NASB), among others.
I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go into the house of the LORD." Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem! Psalm 122:1-2 NKJV When they said, "Let's go to the house of GOD," my heart leaped for joy. And now we're here, O Jerusalem, inside Jerusalem's walls! Psalm 122:1-2 MSG
David sings of the “house of the Lord,” yet during his time, no house existed yet. David knew that his son would build an extravagant temple for the Lord, but he never saw it. The Lord promised David that his son would do this, but that David himself would not be given the privilege (2 Samuel 7). Yet still, David sings of the people coming together in joyful celebration to enter into worship together within the “house of the Lord.”
Certainly, David knew that God did not exist solely within the walls of the church, but he also knew that the church was the place for God’s children to gather in joy and fellowship and in worship. In the spirit of prophecy, David spoke of God calling His children together to worship Him in the church, and that it would be a joyous occasion.
How is your heart when you enter your house of worship? Does it “leap for joy?” Do you feel community when you enter? Do you long to enter the house of the Lord? If your answer is no, Pastor Guzik has these words of encouragement and warning . . .
If going to the house of the Lord is not a glad thing, the problem may be in the heart of the one who comes, or it may be in what happens at the house of the Lord- but the problem should be prayerfully diagnosed and lovingly addressed.Pastor David Guzik, http://www.enduringword.com
God wants His children to enter into His house of worship with joyful hearts. He desires to meet us there, but our hearts must be ready and in the right place. Isn’t that hard though? How many of us fought to get out the door and possibly, in one way or another, in the car on the way there, and maybe even up to the door of the church? All of us have been in that situation, where we enter God’s house with pain or sadness or anger or guilt at something that happened before, maybe even as we walked through the door of the building. God understands this. He clearly does.
Psalm 122:1 is a good reminder to us. Next time, no matter what happened on the way to church, let us stop at the door, take a breath, and rejoice for we are entering the house of the Lord and He does meet us there.
Jerusalem is built as a city that is compact together, where the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, to the testimony of Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD. For thrones are set there for judgment, the thrones of the house of David. Psalm 122:3-5 NKJV Jerusalem, that is built as a city that is compact together; to which the tribes go up, even the tribes of the LORD- an ordinance for Israel- to give thanks to the name of the LORD. For there thrones were set for judgment, the thrones of the house of David. Psalm 122:3-5 NASB 1995
David sings of the city that he conquered- through the will of the Lord- a city for “all tribes.” There were twelve tribes of Israel- yet all were God’s children. As such, David calls for the city of Jerusalem to be a meeting place, a place worship, a place to gather and give thanks to the Lord as one tribe.
Let us as much as possible sink the tribal individuality in the national unity, so that the church may be many waves, but one sea; many branches, but one tree; many members, but one body. Observe that the tribes were all of them the Lord’s; whether Judah or Benjamin, Manasseh or Ephraim, they were all the Lord’s. Oh that all the regiments of the Christian army may be all and equally the Lord’s own, alike chosen, redeemed, accepted, and upheld by Jehovah.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
To the Testimony of Israel: I found this phrase to be interesting and did a little bit more research.
The Testimony of Israel: This describes the ark of the covenant, which was often called by this title (Exodus 25:22, Exodus 26:21, Numbers 1:53). Representing the throne of God and His presence in Israel, the Testimony of Israel was the center of the tabernacle and later the temple.Pastor David Guzik, http://www.enduringword.com
During David’s time, the Ark of the Testimony- meaning the elaborate container that housed God’s commandments- was kept within the tabernacle in Jerusalem. Later, the Ark was moved into the temple that Solomon built.
During the three Jewish festivals, the Jewish people traveled to the holy city of Jerusalem and then made their way toward the tabernacle/temple to the place the Ark was kept. The place they could meet God at. The place they could gather as one tribe- as the children of God- to give thanks to the Lord. The Lord required this gathering of His children and as such, He met them there.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: "may they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces." For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, "Peace be within you." Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek your good. Psalm 122:6-9 NKJV Pray for Jerusalem's peace! Prosperity to all you Jerusalem-lovers! Friendly insiders, get along! Hostile outsiders, keep your distance! For the sake of my family and friends, I say it again: live in peace! For the sake of the house of our God, GOD, I'll do my very best for you. Psalm 122:6-9 MSG
David had reason to love the city of Jerusalem, and later as the pilgrims made their way through the gates, they too could celebrate the history, strength, and resiliency of their people. However, David reminds us here that the most important reason to come to and find joy and love in the city of Jerusalem is because it is the house of the Lord. The throne of God, God’s holy mountain. Jerusalem is His city, and the place He will reside someday.
For modern believers, we love and care for the church because it is first and foremost a house of God.
But Psalm 122 is also a reminder to pray for peace for Israel and within the walls of the holy city. Jerusalem has a special place in God’s heart, and someday Jesus will return to take the throne and restore the city. He will return just as he left (Acts 1:11, Zechariah 14:4, Revelation 14:1).
Until then, we pray for peace and prosperity for those we love. We pray for peace and prosperity within the house of God- the church. And, according to this psalm, we pray the same for the city of Jerusalem.
The New Living Translation says it this way:
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem. Psalm 122:9 NLT
We are- all of us- pilgrims on a journey through this life, and we must keep our eyes on the One who knows the way home.
When it seems easier to walk away from political issues or vaccine/mask frustrations or other problems that cause derision within the church now, nothing matters more than keeping our eyes on Jesus. Because with His help, we can love those around us despite our differences. THAT is what keeps the peace in God’s house.
Jesus keeps the peace in God’s house. Only through Jesus is this possible.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV
Father in heaven, may we find joy and fellowship and strength when we enter your house. Help us to get our hearts, in the right place, so that we can meet you there. Thank you for sending your son to earth to live a life of peace and love that we can look to for strength and as an example. Please bring peace to Jerusalem, bring peace to your church. We love you. Amen.