Psalms 122

PSALM CXXII

The satisfaction of a gracious soul in the use of God's

ordinances, 1, 2.

Description of the internal government of Jerusalem, 3-5.

Prayers for its peace and prosperity, 6-9.

NOTES ON PSALM CXXII

In the preceding Psalms we find the poor captives crying to God

for deliverance; here they are returning thanks that they find

they are permitted to return to their own land and to the

ordinances of their God.

Verse 1. I was glad when they said] When Cyrus published an

edict for their return, the very first object of their

thanksgiving was the kindness of God in permitting them to return

to his ordinances.

Verse 2. Our feet shall stand] For seventy years we have been

exiled from our own land; our heart was in Jerusalem, but our feet

were in Chaldea. Now God has turned our captivity, and our feet

shall shortly stand within the gates of Jerusalem. What a

transition from misery to happiness! and what a subject for

rejoicing!

Verse 3. Jerusalem-compact together.] It is now well rebuilt,

every part contributing to the strength of the whole. It is also a

state of great political and spiritual union. It is the centre of

union to all the tribes, for each tribe has an equal interest in

that God who is worshipped there.

Verse 4. The testimony of Israel] There is the ark, where the

presence of God is manifested; there is the holy of holies; and

there all the tribes assembled to worship Jehovah. He no doubt

alludes to the assembling of the tribes annually at each of the

three grand national festivals.

Verse 5. There are set thrones of judgment] There were the

public courts, and thither the people went to obtain justice;

and while the thrones of the house of David were there, they had

justice.

Verse 6. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem] shalom

signifies both peace and prosperity. Let her unanimity never be

disturbed; let her prosperity ever be on the increase!

They shall prosper that love thee.] In the peace and prosperity

of the city, they shall find their peace and their prosperity; and

even on this ground they should love the city, and labour to

promote its best interests. There is a remarkable alliteration in

this verse, the letter shin frequently recurring.

Shaalu shelom yerushalam yishlayu ohabeycha.

"Ask ye the prosperity of Jerusalem; they shall be

quiet that love thee."

There are remarkable specimens of similar alliteration to be

found in all poets, ancient and modern. This formed the chief

feature of our ancient poetry. Thus in Peter the ploughman:-

"In a somers seysoun whan sete was the sonne

I schoop me in a shrowde as I a sheep were."

And the same manner often appears, even in Milton himself. See

the Il Penseroso:-

"Oft, on a plat of rising ground,

I hear the far-off curfew sound

Over some wide-watered shore,

Swinging slow with sullen roar."

Verse 7. Peace be within thy walls] This is the form of prayer

that they are to use: "May prosperity ever reside within thy

walls, on all the people that dwell there; and tranquillity within

thy palaces or high places, among the rulers and governors of the

people."

Verse 8. For any brethren and companions' sakes] Because this

city is the abode of my kinsfolk and countrymen, I will wish it

prosperity. I will promote its peace and tranquillity by all means

in my power. I will affectionately say, May peace be within thee!

Verse 9. Because of the house of the Lord our God] Particularly

will I wish thee well, because thou art the seat of religion, the

place where our merciful God has condescended to dwell.

To the captives in Babylon the Prophet Jeremiah had given this

charge, Jer 29:7: "And seek

shalom, the prosperity of the city, whither I have caused you to

be carried captives, and pray unto the Lord for it; for in the

prosperity thereof ye shall have prosperity."

Was this a duty for the captives? Yes. And is it the duty of

every man for his own country? God, nature, common sense, and

self-interest say, YES! And what must we think of the wretches who

not only do not thus pray, but labour to destroy the public peace,

to subvert the government of their country, to raise seditions,

and to destroy all its civil and religious institutions? Think of

them! Why, that hemp would be disgraced by hanging them.

There is a fine picture given us here of the state of Jerusalem

after the restoration of the Jews. The walls were finished, the

city rebuilt, beautiful, strong, and regular, the temple and its

worship were restored, the courts of justice were re-established,

the constituted authorities in Church and state were doing their

duty; and God was pouring out his blessing upon all. Who could see

this without praying, May God increase thy peace, and establish

thy prosperity for ever!

ANALYSIS OF THE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-SECOND PSALM

The psalmist, in the person of the people,-

I. Expresses his joy that he might join with the Church in God's

service, Ps 122:1, 2.

II. Commends the Church, under the name of Jerusalem, for her

unity, Ps 122:3; religious worship, Ps 122:4; civil and

ecclesiastical policy, Ps 122:5.

III. Exhorts all to pray for its peace and prosperity,

Ps 122:6; and puts the form of prayer into their mouths,

Ps 122:7.

IV. Shows his own readiness to do this, and offers up his

supplications, Ps 122:8, 9.

I. The psalmist congratulates himself and the people on the

restoration of God's worship:-

1. He expresses his own joy: "I was glad."

2. To hear of the unanimity of the people mutually exhorting

each other to it: "When they said unto me."

3. "Let us go into the house of the Lord." Let us all go, hear

his word, give him thanks, and make prayers and supplications to

him.

II. He commends Jerusalem three ways:-

1. For its unity: it was compact together; it was united in

itself; and united, both in politics and religion, in its

inhabitants.

2. For its being the place of God's worship: 1. For "thither the

tribes go up" thrice in the year, as was ordained, Ex 23:14, to

celebrate their deliverance from Egypt, in keeping the passover.

2. The giving of the law, in the feast of pentecost. 3. Their

preservation in the wilderness, in the feast of tabernacles.

These tribes are "the tribes of the Lord." A very honourable

title.

"Unto the testimony of Israel." To the ark of the covenant, the

pledge of the covenant between God and the people.

The end for which they went up: "To give thanks unto the name of

the Lord."

3. He commends Jerusalem for its civil and ecclesiastical

policy: 1. "For there are set thrones of judgment." The tribunals

and courts of justice are there. 2. "The thrones of the house of

David." The court and throne of a legitimate sovereign.

III. He exhorts the tribes to pray for a continuance of its

present happy state.

1. "Pray for the peace," &c. It is our duty to pray for the

prosperity of the nation and of the Church of God.

2. "They shall prosper that love thee." Those who love both are

blessed, those who do not are cursed.

3. And that we may know the prayer that God will hear, he puts

one in our mouth, "Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity

within thy palaces." It is well to join peace and prosperity

together. Peace without prosperity is but a secure possession of

misery; and prosperity without peace is but a dubious and

uncertain felicity.

1. "Peace be within thy walls." Not only thy fortifications,

civil and religious institutions, but also among all thy officers,

soldiers, and inhabitants, for they constitute the strength and

safety of the kingdom.

2. "And prosperity within thy palaces." In the king's house, his

family, his ministers; if there be dissensions there, ruin will

soon follow.

IV. The psalmist shows his own readiness to do this.

1. "I will now say, Peace be within thee." So should all the

ministers of religion pray.

2. "I will seek thy good." So should the king and every officer

of state resolve. All should be united in so good a work. They

should not seek their own good, but the good, not the goods, of

the people.

For this the psalmist gives these reasons:-

1. "For my brethren and companions' sakes." We are not only

subjects of one king, citizens of the same city, but we have all

one God and Father.

2. "Because of the house of the Lord." For the maintenance of

true religion. If religion fail, the kingdom will fail; prosperity

will be at an end; the nation will be divided, distracted,

destroyed. Religion, the true religion in a country, is the

consolation of the good, and the bridle that holds in the jaws

of the wicked. Let us all pray for the prosperity of pure and

undefiled religion, and the prosperity of the state!

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