Psalm 122: Joy over Jerusalem Introduction: “Psalm 122 is the third of the Songs of Ascents. In the first of this small group of fifteen psalms, Psalm 120, the singers are in a foreign land beginning to turn their faces toward God’s city. In the second, Psalm 121, they seem to have sighted the city or are at least very near it at the end of their journey. In this psalm, the travelers reflect on their joy when they were asked to join the pilgrim party and thrill that their feet are now actually standing within Jerusalem’s gates” (Boice). There are 3 ways we can apply and discuss this psalm: the literal physical city of Jerusalem, the spiritual Jerusalem (the Church), and the future New Jerusalem mentioned in Revelation.
I. Verses 1-4: “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.”
The literal Jerusalem: the psalmist rejoiced because he was standing in the gate of God’s holy city, the place chosen to represent God’s people, their worship of Him, and His meeting with them since His temple stood there.
The Church: Do you rejoice that you’ve been chosen to be His holy temple? Are you excited and in awe that you can meet with others who have His Holy Spirit dwelling within them to enable them to do His will? The “house of the LORD” is no longer a building; it’s the people of His church, and we should rejoice each and every time we meet with them; whether it’s at a believer’s bedside, a home Bible study, a prayer meeting at work, or a church family meeting on a Sunday morning, let us rejoice with those who believe! We are to be “closely compacted together” in unity.
The New Jerusalem: when he calls us home, we’ll be freed from our sinful flesh and do nothing but rejoice in His presence, constantly repeating, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (Revelation 5 and 13).
II. Verse 5: “There stand the thrones for judgment, the thrones of the house of David.”
The literal Jerusalem: The kings resided in Jerusalem, so it was the seat and symbol of authority for Israel.
The Church: 1st Corinthians 6 gives an explanation of judgment within God’s church: “If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers?” Those who are ruled by the Holy Spirit need never to turn to the world to settle disagreements among them. Paul was shaming the Corinthian church because they were doing what ought never to be done: refusing both justice and forgiveness, which was proof that they were not allowing the Lord to lead!
The New Jerusalem: Revelation 21 reveals what things will look like when Christ’s rule is complete (since, according to Hebrews 2, we do not see everything subject to him right now): “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” Although Christ rules and reigns now, God is also allowing Satan to prowl around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). However, a day is coming that the lion will be locked away for good, and we’ll see every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!
III. Verses 6-9: “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.’ For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your prosperity."
The literal Jerusalem: this city has been at the heart of conflict for so long that mankind now relates it to anything but peace; however, the prayer here in Psalm 122 asks not only for peace there, but that those who love Jerusalem would be secure as well. The U.S. has historically been a friend to Israel, but our friendship has deteriorated. Never stop praying for the peace of Jerusalem, and that our country would love her and be secure.
The Church: we understand that the Prince of Peace is the fulfillment of all that Jerusalem stood for, so when we pray for the “peace of Jerusalem,” the Church means, “Maranatha!” (which is Aramaic meaning “Come, Lord Jesus!”) Maranatha became the persecuted church’s greeting for one another, replacing the Jewish greeting shalom, which means peace, because they understood that true peace would not occur until His return.
The New Jerusalem: As we see the earthly Jerusalem in the news daily, in the midst of war, we pray, “Maranatha,” which means we’re asking for the New Jerusalem, where Jesus will rule as the Prince of Peace.