Psalms of Ascent: 122

1  I was glad when they said to me,/“Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
2  Our feet have been standing/within your gates, O Jerusalem!

3  Jerusalem—built as a city/that is bound firmly together,
4  to which the tribes go up,/the tribes of the Lord,/as was decreed for Israel,/to give thanks to
the name of the Lord.
5  There thrones for judgment were set,/the thrones of the house of David.

6  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!/“May they be secure who love you!
7  Peace be within your walls/and security within your towers!”
8  For my brothers and companions' sake/I will say, “Peace be within you!”
9  For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,/I will seek your good.

Psalm 122 is a song of rejoicing as God’s people entered into the gates of Jerusalem. Verses 3-5 give us the reasons for their joy. Jerusalem was the city where God dwelt with his people in the temple, which means they had many reasons to celebrate entering into it.

It was a place of security (v. 3). God’s people were united there through gathering together and through obedience to God’s law (v. 4). It was a place of justice and wisdom (v. 5a). And it was where God made a covenant to create an everlasting Kingdom to and through King David (v. 5b). For all of these reasons, the people of God would shout for joy when they entered into the gates.

But there was a dissonance between what they were singing and the reality they were experiencing. Jerusalem’s inhabitants were not always faithful to God. Her leaders were not always godly and selfless. The blessings they were singing about could not be enjoyed, because the people had turned away from the beauty of obeying God’s commands. That is why they are instructed to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem."

Verses 6-9 are a prayer that God would close the gaps between their confessions in verses 3-5 and their current experience of Jerusalem, that he would restore safety, unity in gatherings and the law, wisdom, justice, and messianic hope back to his Kingdom. But they were not only supposed to pray for these things, but also to seek the good of Jerusalem. Their prayer was that God would restore peace through them, that he would empower them to be his agents of change in their city. They were active participants in the fulfillment of their prayer.

We as inhabitants of God's Kingdom, the church, should feel the dissonance they felt. We are given these beautiful promises of what it is like to be God’s people, but because of sin and brokenness, both in the world and in ourselves, we find it difficult to feel the reality and the joy of these promises. Let us pray to God, as the Israelites did, that he would empower us to be agents of security, unity, wisdom, justice, and hope in our communities. Pray that God would help us make our churches a place where people rejoice when entering into its doors.