Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Oct 13 2019 - Psalm 122 – Rejoicing in pilgrimage

A week ago we noted that Psalms 120-134 are "Songs of Ascents", psalms sung by pilgrims as they made their way up to Jerusalem for one of the major annual festivals. Psalm 121 reflected on the dangers of the journey and the help and protection that God would provide for his people on the way. Psalm 122 is a song of praise for safe arrival; the anxiety of the journey is over for the psalmist's feet are now standing in Jerusalem.

The psalmist looks back to the day when he was first invited to join others on their journey up to the holy city. He was filled with joy at the prospect (v. 1). Nor has his joy been disappointed for he is now filled with wonder as he looks around the city. Ancient Jerusalem may not have been a very large city but it was the place where the Lord's people gathered together to praise the name of the Lord their God. They assembled in obedience to his word ("according to the statute given to Israel", v. 4), but it was no mere duty; it was a joy. There in the city was the throne of their king, the successor to David (v. 5), and there was the temple, the house of God where sacrifice enabled them to approach God and know that he dwelt with them to bless them (v. 9). In the psalmist's estimation there was no better place to be.

We too are a pilgrim people on our way to the Heavenly Jerusalem. A chorus from an old hymn once popular among Christians went as follows:

We're marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion;
We're marching upward to Zion; the beautiful city of God.

Moreover, the goal of our pilgrimage is not just a future prospect but is also part of our present experience. As Alec Motyer has expressed it:

The goal of the Jerusalem to come, the New Heaven and the new Earth, the City of the Lord God and of the Lamb, casts its radiance before it for those who live in its light… and importantly, to its present location in the local church to which we belong.

We are to delight now in the fellowship of God's people as we meet together to praise him. We are to delight in the perfect and final atoning sacrifice of Christ which enables us to come into the presence of the living God. We are to rejoice that Jesus, David's greater Son, is our Lord and King. We are a people who are on pilgrimage together and who have tasted already something of the power and joy of the age to come.

In the latter part of this psalm, the psalmist turns to prayer. He prays for the peace of Jerusalem and for the security of its people. We need to pray for our Christian brothers and sisters both here and throughout the world that they will be kept secure in faith and safe from those who threaten them.

The psalmist prays concerning Jerusalem that there may be "peace within your walls". We need to pray that those who profess to follow the Lord Jesus may be kept at peace with one another – enjoying the peace of God that breaks down all barriers. Pray that there may not be discord and division in the church or in relationships between churches. In-fighting discredits the gospel.

He prays for "family and friends", no doubt those who have travelled with him on the journey. We need to pray for family and friends that they might join us on the journey to the Heavenly City and, having joined us, that they might not drift away.

He seeks the prosperity of the city. We need constantly to pray that the kingdom of our God may come and the reign of our precious Saviour may be extended to embrace the whole world.

Father, help us to rejoice at the prospect of reaching our journey's goal and so devote ourselves to earnest prayer that the joy set before us may be part of our present experience, strengthening us on the journey. May we always encourage one another along the way and be earnest in our prayer that your kingdom may come.

Peter Misselbrook