I know the joy and excitement that comes when I finally arrive at a long-awaited destination, especially after many hours of traveling. Psalm 122 comes remarkably well-timed when churches will soon begin gathering together again for corporate worship. I wish the peace and unity expressed in this psalm prevailed among all churches – those who choose to gather and those who choose not to. From woe-filled expatriate (Psalm 120), to weary & wary traveler (Psalm 121), the joy-filled worshipper finally arrived at his destination in Psalm 122. What was that place that gave him such joy? “The house of Yahweh,” the city of Jerusalem itself (1-2). David loved Jerusalem, because he captured it from the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5) and eventually brought the ark of God there (2 Samuel 6), erected within the tabernacle. Jerusalem was the place where God dwelled. He chose Jerusalem as the place where his name would dwell and where God’s people would unite in their worship of him, especially in giving thanks to his name (3-5). (I need to remember that the next time I gather with God’s people: I’m there for God’s name’s sake, not just what I can get out of being there.) Jerusalem would also be a place of justice exercised by the Davidic kings (5).
It’s no wonder David appealed to the people to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” and love her (6). Jerusalem’s name signified peace, mentioned three times here (6,7,8). For the sake of his “brothers & companions,” David wished always for Jerusalem to be a place of peace and safety. In verse 9 it’s very possible David broadened the house metaphor to indicate that his “brothers & companions” (8) themselves were “the house of Yahweh our God.” IOW, God dwelled among his people. That has always been God’s desire and plan since the garden of Eden. God’s “house” or dwelling place eventually became the land of Canaan where God dwelled among his people. Now Jerusalem was that chosen place. For that reason, David always sought the good of Jerusalem, because in doing so he would be seeking the welfare of his people (9b).
I can’t help but apply much of this psalm to the church today, because that’s where God now dwells among his people. Ephesians 2:19-22 tells me, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” What should characterize God’s dwelling place? Among other things, unity and peace. Ephesians 4:3 tells me that I must be “eager to maintain the UNITY of the Spirit in the bond of PEACE.” I want to be a man of peace in a peaceful church doing my part to maintain the joy of the unity among God’s people so that other weary and distressed travelers can find help and safety and peace within our walls among our people.