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Monday, July 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 122

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Verses 1-9


This Psalm, which the title ascribes to David, was probably composed by him after he had settled the Ark in Mount Zion, to encourage the people to resort to Jerusalem to the three annual feasts, or to express his pleasure in observing that they did assemble there in great numbers. With how much greater joy ought Christians to embrace all opportunities of approaching God and assembling with His people in the more rational, spiritual, and edifying worship of the New-Testament Church!


(Psalms 122:1-2)

This Psalm is a song on the entrance of the Church and State of Israel into a superior habitation. It seems to have been originally written in the interval between the translation of the Ark to Zion by David and the erection of the Temple there by Solomon. We may picture the multitudes of eager worshippers singing this song as they journeyed in companies from different parts of Palestine to the holy sanctuary of Zion. As they leave their homes, as in the morning they resume their march, as they approach the gates of the city, or as they pause within them and prepare to go up in solemn procession with music and song to the sanctuary, they unite in singing these words of joy and gladness. Observe—

I. That the joy of Divine worship is realised in anticipation. “I was glad when they said unto me” (Psalms 122:7). The invitation to worship is met with an eager and joyous response, as though the soul had been pleasantly musing on the theme and was longing for the time of public worship to return. Much of our happiness in life, and of our misery too, are realised by anticipation. The same power by which we forecast the future and fill the mind with sombre pictures of coming calamities, may also be used to portray with the vividness of reality the exquisite pleasures which are yet to come. Prolonged absence from the sanctuary, whether from sickness or distance, gives piquancy to the spiritual appetite, and adds an additional charm to the prospect of soon joining again with the happy worshippers. The joy of the devout emigrant as he returns once more to his native village, is intensified by the hope of again worshipping God in the rustic temple with which are associated the happiest moments of his youth.

II. That the joy of Divine worship is enhanced when shared with others. “Let us go.” Man can worship God alone, but he can worship Him better in company. The song of the solitary bird does not create such a tempest of tumultuous rapture as when it is blended with the summer-morning chorus of a thousand merry choristers, rising over brake and woodland. The journey of the pilgrim is not so long and tedious when it is prosecuted in the society of kindred spirits and enlivened with songs of gladness. Our worship of God will reach its highest joy when it is rendered in fraternal union with that great multitude which no man can number (Revelation 7:9-12).

III. That the joy of Divine worship is most fully realised in the sanctuary. “Into the house of the Lord.” Here Jehovah dwells, making His home in the hearts of the sincere worshippers. Here His majestic glory is displayed with overwhelming splendour. Here the mysteries of His providential dealings are explained. Here His will is made known with unmistakable plainness and emphasis, illustrated with the commentary of passing events. Here the worshipper has received his most memorable blessings—his fears have been banished, his murmurs silenced, his false ideas corrected, his faith invigorated, his soul tuned to harmony and love. The blissful associations of the sanctuary in the past assist the worshipper every time he visits the loved and sacred shrine. Many are thankful in the recollection of those whose advice and example led them to the sanctuary. The Christian mother of Gregory Nazianzen often begged her Pagan husband to join the Lord’s people in their worship, but had to go without him for a long time. At last her remembered words were irresistible music to his spirit. In a dream, he repeated the first words of the Psalm: “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.” The opposite had been the fact; but the dream would come to pass. Such happiness was soon his lot. He felt a longing to accept the Christian religion, and was soon able, when wide awake, to say the same words with literal truth.

IV. The joy of Divine worship is abiding. “Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem” (Psalms 122:2). The joy of worship is satisfying and permanent: it remains with us when other joys have vanished—vanished like the bloom of a short-lived flower, like the picture of a pleasant dream, like the delicate tints of a lovely scene, like the sweet strain of an entrancing melody. David governed with his harp as much as with his sword and sceptre; and the songs of Zion which he taught his people to sing were a potent and constant influence in the formation and solidifying of the national religious life. The unceasing praise of Jehovah in the Heavenly Jerusalem will be an occasion of unceasing joy.

“In thy gates, O Jerusalem bright,
Have our feet often stood with delight:
And again shall they measure the way,
Till within them, enchanted, we stay.”


1. The true praise of God is the highest worship.

2. The worship in the Church below begets a preparedness and fitness for worship in the Church above.

3. The highest worship is the unfailing source of the highest rapture.

4. Much spiritual loss is suffered by changing or neglecting the sanctuary.


(Psalms 122:3-5)

I. Because it is securely founded. “Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together” (Psalms 122:3). It was situate on a lofty eminence: it was strengthened till it became an impregnable fortress: it was beautified by a series of princely palaces: it was crowned by the most magnificent Temple: it was circled and invested by the Divine presence. So the Church of God has its basis in invulnerable truth: it is defended by the ablest intellects: it embraces the good of all ages: it has survived the wreck of the mightiest empires, and the rage of the most formidable enemies: it is overshadowed with the glory of God: it is dowered with a fadeless immortality.

II. Because it is the place of general assembly. “Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord” (Psalms 122:4).

1. There the will of God is made known. “Unto the testimony of Israel.” The ark was there, containing the tables of the law, the testimony of God’s will and Israel’s duty (Exodus 25:21-22). In the Church of God, as in the Temple of Jerusalem, the Word of God is expounded and the individual path of duty clearly marked out. Obedience is encouraged by promises of blessing, and its failure threatened with corresponding punishment; and the law of God is an awful and imperishable testimony of the Divine faithfulness in each sphere.

2. There the Name of God is worshipped. “To give thanks unto the Name of the Lord.” The Divine Name is the embodiment of the Divine perfections; and that mysterious Name is the legitimate object of all true worship. Thanksgiving is the essence of acceptable worship. “To give thanks” becometh a creature who is so absolutely dependent on the Divine bounty as man. Thanksgiving should be offered humbly, fervently, constantly.

III. Because it is the seat of universal government. “For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David” (Psalms 122:5). It is a picture of combined and quiet strength. The pilgrims do not look upon a solitary throne, exposed and insecure; but see thrones, firm and safe, beneath and around David’s, occupied simultaneously by his advisers, administrators, and magistrates, including his sons, all in his royal name and service (2 Samuel 8:18; 1 Chronicles 18:17). They behold a broadly organised and settled government. (Vide “The Caravan and the Temple.”) From this metropolis of power all civil and ecclesiastical mandates must issue, and to it all classes were taught to look for justice. So the Church of God is the seat and centre of government If justice is not found here, it can be found nowhere. And not justice only, but all that which government exists to promote and conserve—righteousness, peace, joy, love—these are the stable constituents and ornaments of the Divine throne.


1. The Church of God is the repository of the greatest mental and moral wealth.

2. A secure place in the true Church is gained only by a Divinely implanted moral fitness.

3. A member of the true Church is amenable to the Divine laws.


(Psalms 122:6-9)

I. That peace and prosperity should be subjects of earnest prayer. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee” (Psalms 122:6). It is not in mortals to command success, nor is it always in the power of man to maintain peace in either Church or State. It is an Apostolic direction—As much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. But the best intentions are often misinterpreted, and, such is the perversity of the human mind, the very efforts made to promote peace are often the occasion of strife. The baffled mediator finds his readiest and most potent resource in prayer. All who truly love the Church of God will be constant and fervent in supplication for its peace and prosperity. Prayer succeeds when the most astute diplomacy fails.

II. That peace and prosperity are correlative blessings. “Peace be within thy walls and prosperity within thy palaces” (Psalms 122:7). When peace takes its flight from a community or nation, prosperity soon follows: one depends upon the other. Nothing is prosperous with the man who is not at peace. The prosperity of the wicked is but temporary and apparent: it is for the present life only. It sows the seeds of discord and rebellion, and involves thousands in suffering and adversity. The man who strives to promote peace is a benefactor to the race. We should strive with others, as Lord Bacon says, “as the vine with the olive, which of us shall bear the best fruit; not as the briar with the thistle, which is the most unprofitable.”

“A peace is of the nature of a conquest:
For there both parties nobly are subdued,
And neither party loses.”—Shakespeare.

Peace is the condition of a permanent and increasing prosperity.

III. That peace and prosperity are necessary for the cultivation of fraternal intercourse and affection. “For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee” (Psalms 122:8). The unity of a nation depends upon its loyalty to the Church of God; and the welfare of the Church is the measure of a nation’s prosperity. Let Jerusalem be secure and blest, and the population generally will be secure and happy. How often is the peace of a home wrecked by the absence of love and harmony. A drunken husband, a scolding wife, a dissipated son, make sad havoc of what might be the happiest of homes. “As hatred by quarrels exposes the faults of others, so love covers them, except in so far as brotherly correction requires their exposure. The disagreements which hatred stirreth up, love allays; and the offences which are usually the causes of quarrel it sees as though it saw them not, and excuses them. It gives to men the forgiveness which it daily craves from God.”

“Love is the happy privilege of mind;
Love is the reason of all living things.
A trinity there seems of principles,
Which represent and rule created life—
The love of self, our fellows, and our God.”


IV. That peace and prosperity should be sought for the sake of the Church of God. “Because of the House of the Lord our God I will seek thy good” (Psalms 122:9). In promoting the good of the Church, we promote our own best interests and those of all mankind. If we love God, we love His Church. We stand very much in the estimation of God according to our worth to His Church. The character of Eli is redeemed from much of its weakness and blame-worthiness, when we discover the tenderness and strength of his attachment. The brave old man bore up heroically when he was told the astounding news from the battle-field, that Israel was defeated and his own sons were among the slain; but when the messenger announced as the climax of his doleful tidings, that the Ark of God was taken, a deeper chord was touched than that of the patriot and the father, and, smitten to the heart, he fell backward and expired; and the sublimity that massed itself around the close of the aged prophet’s career seemed to overshadow the feebleness and imperfections of his previous life. God will forgive a great deal to the man who helps—in gifts, in work, in witness-bearing, in sacrifices, in suffering—to promote the peace and prosperity of Zion.


1. Sin is the fruitful source of war and poverty.

2. It is the mission of Christianity to confer a universal and permanent peace.

3. prospers best who prays the most.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Psalms 122". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/psalms-122.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
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