Psalms 122:0 ¶ A Song of degrees of David.
Three times each year the men of Israel were to come to the temple and present themselves before the Lord.
Deuteronomy 16:16 “Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty….”
The fifteen Psalms that are called the songs of degrees (elevation, journey to a higher place, go up) were to be sung as they ascended the temple mount.
Psalms 122:1 ¶ I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.
This is an interesting opening verse for David since there was no temple in Jerusalem at that time. He had, however, moved the ark of the covenant to a specially prepared place in Jerusalem. The ark represented the presence of God among His people. So, where the ark resided could rightly be referred to as the house of the LORD. It would seem that “they” represented a group of people close to David in some capacity that suggested they present themselves before the LORD to offer Him their thanks. Going to the LORD’s house was a joy to him, not just a duty. Going in fellowship with his friends just added to his joy.
Psalms 122:2 Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.
Psalms 122:3 Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together:
As I read the different translations for verse two, it seems to be identifying the fact that they are in Jerusalem. As I looked at the Hebrew, I liked the way verse 3 was expressed in the CJB: “Yerushalayim, built as a city fostering friendship and unity.” As I read that translation, it made me think of how God’s house should be place where people gather to foster friendship and unity rooted in their relationship to Him.
Psalms 122:4 Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the LORD.
Psalms 122:5 For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David.
We read in the verse from Deuteronomy above that the people were required to present themselves before the LORD three times a year to thank Him for His many blessings. When David became king, he established Jerusalem as the governmental capital of Israel. When he brought the ark to reside in the tabernacle of David, Jerusalem was established as its religious capital.
I loved this application from Spurgeon: “Note that Israel was one people, but yet it was in a sense divided by the mere surface distinction of tribes; and this may be a lesson to us that all Christendom is essentially one, though from various causes we are divided into tribes. 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.”
Psalms 122:6 ¶ Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.
Psalms 122:7 Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.
I am reminded that Jerusalem was originally known as Salem, meaning “peaceful,” the place where Melchizedek was the King/Priest. From its beginning, it was designated as a city of peace.
Hebrews 7:1–2 “For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace….”
David urges the people to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, noting that those who do so because they love the city and its people will be blessed. He then pronounces his own blessing for the people of the city to be at peace and experience prosperity, the blessings of God.
Psalms 122:8 For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee.
Psalms 122:9 Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good.
David admits that he wants peace in Jerusalem for the benefit of those he loves. His desire was to build a temple to the LORD and to honor God with a place more befitting His presence than the tabernacle that housed the ark. He wanted peace and prosperity for Jerusalem to mark it as a place worthy of the LORD’s presence.