by Pastor David Groendyk
This is another psalm that is entitled “A Song of Ascents”, which means that this was a psalm that would be sung as Israelites were journeying to Jerusalem to go to the temple in order to sacrifice and gather for worship. Whereas Psalms 120 and 121 focused on needing the protection of the Lord in order to journey to Jerusalem, Psalm 122 focuses on celebrating the people of God gathered together in God’s city. King David draws out his celebration song in three parts: the joy of gathering together (vv. 1–2), the beauty of God’s gathered people (vv. 3–5), and the prayer for the continued gathering of God’s people (vv. 6–9).
“I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” This is a phrase churches often use at the beginning of their worship services. Is that the sentiment you feel and express on Sundays when we gather for worship together? I’ll admit that some weeks it’s hard to get out of bed; plus the thought of wrangling two small children is intimidating every morning, Sundays being no exception. Sometimes worship feels more like duty than delight. To be sure, it is both duty and delight, but we often find ourselves needing to do more to cultivate the joy part. That’s not to say we should put on a façade of happiness or fake a smile for the hour we’re together. Scripture calls that hypocrisy and condemns it severely. Rather, we must meditate on our Savior and what corporate worship is supposed to be. Our joy in worship comes from the fact that we are coming into the presence of God. We are drawing near to God through the power of his Spirit, the blood of Jesus Christ, and the active exercising of our faith. This will be the theme of heaven as well—being with God forever in a perfect, sinless relationship and environment. Our gathered worship is a small foretaste of meeting God in heaven. Do you delight in that foretaste? How can you prepare yourself before coming to worship on Sundays in order to increase your joy in participating?
Not only is it a joy to be with God, it is a joy to be with God’s people as well. Verses 3–5 focus not on the joy but on the beauty of the city itself. Wherever God’s people are gathered, it ought to be a place of unity (v. 3), thanksgiving (v. 4), and true justice and holiness (v. 5). It reminds me of Psalm 133, another Song of Ascents, where David compares the people of God dwelling in unity to the oil of consecration that runs down Aaron’s head and the dew of the mountain that gives water to the land so that plants could grow. What is it like when you gather with other believers? Is it life-giving, thanks-giving, and sanctifying? Is it a delight for you to be with God’s people on the Lord’s Day?
It’s the love of God’s people that motivates David’s prayer in verses 6–9. He prays for continued peace and security around God’s city as well as peace within the city itself. If verses 3–5 are something on an ideal for what the people of God should look like, then verses 6–9 are David urging the people to actually seek what would make that ideal a reality. We brothers and sisters within the church must seek peace and unity amongst ourselves if we ever plan to be anything close to the ideal church. Peace ensures stability. Where do you see contentious relationships or bitterness amongst the people of God? What can you do to promote peace in your relationships with other believers at Tyrone? How would that lead to more fruitful and effective ministry?