A Song of degrees of David. I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.
I. Why was David so glad? why did his heart beat with a thrill of pleasure at the summons to enter God's house? Because David was a man who lived in the faith and fear of God; because from a child he had set God always before him, and had been accustomed to see God's hand in all that befell him; because he was from his heart convinced that in God he lived, and moved, and had his being. He longed to acknowledge the lovingkindness of the Lord; and that acknowledgment, he felt, he could nowhere make so solemnly and so fitly as in the courts of God's house.
II. David's joy is set forth in the Scriptures as an example of the right spirit in which we ought to approach the public worship of our Maker: in a spirit of holy gladness. The service which God requires of us is the service of our hearts. The mere coming into His courts on Sunday is nothing—nay, is worse than nothing: is a mockery—unless we come gladly, cheerfully, willingly, of our own free desire, and not from compulsion or for form's sake.
III. What has God done for David that He has not done for us as well? The Lord is everything to us that He was to David: our strength, our strong rock, our defence, our Saviour, our might, our buckler, the horn also of our salvation, and our refuge. The real stumbling-block is that we are not sufficiently alive to God's great goodness; that we do not set Him, as David did, continually before our face; that we set other things before us in His stead: our farm, our merchandise, our family cares, our pleasures, our schemes for getting on in the world. One thing is needful. Try to live with the thought of God more continually present to your minds. Cultivate a sense of I Its exceeding love. If we do this, we shall be glad, unfeignedly glad, when they say, "Let us go into the house of the Lord."
R. D. B. Rawnsley, Village Sermons, 2nd series, p. 70.
The house of the Lord suggests:—
I. Thoughts of the Lord Himself. A gladdening thought this to David, and to every man who knows God as Jesus Christ teaches His disciples to know the Father.
II. Thoughts of the various glorious manifestations of God. These manifestations are calculated to awaken joy.
III. Thoughts of the mercies of the Lord, those mercies of which we personally have been the recipients.
IV. Thoughts of the exercises and the acts of worship.
V. The thought of meeting God as God is not found elsewhere.
VI. The thought of receiving special blessings from God, for in these places, or of them, God has said, "I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee."
VII. Thoughts suggested by the prospect of the communion of saints.
VIII. The thought of enjoying a privilege in the performance of a duty.
S. Martin, Westminster Chapel Pulpit, 1st series, No. 5.
References: Psalm 122:1.—Sermons for Boys and Girls, p. 352; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xxi., p. 144; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 250; J. G. Butler, Preacher's Monthly, vol. iii., p. 366; A. P. Stanley, Christian World Pulpit, vol. i., p. 273; J. F. Haynes Ibid., vol. xvii., p. 190.
Psalm 122:2The Psalm from which this verse is taken was probably written by a pilgrim to Jerusalem at some time previous to the Babylonish captivity. On the one hand, it is clear that the house of the Lord, the ancient Temple, was still standing; on the other, the reference to the house of David and the anxious prayer for the peace of Jerusalem, its walls, its palaces, seem to point to a later time than that of David.
I. One thing which would have struck a pilgrim to Jerusalem who should approach the city, as was natural, from its northeastern side, would be its beauty. In the eyes of a religious pilgrim the physical beauty of Jerusalem must have suggested and blended with beauty of the highest order. The beauty of the world of spirit imparts to the world of sense a subtle lustre which of itself it could never possess.
II. Jerusalem was the centre of the religious and national life of Israel. Its greatest distinction was that the Temple lay within its walls. No other title to glory and distinction in these ancient days could compete with this place where God did choose to put His name.
III. A third characteristic of Jerusalem was its unworldliness. (1) This appears partly in its very situation. Jerusalem was not on the sea or on a navigable river. Isaiah rejoiced in "Zion, the city of our solemnities, as a quiet habitation, wherein shall no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship, pass by." In his eyes its religious character as well as its security are ensured by its seclusion from the great highways of the world of his day. (2) This characteristic may be further illustrated by the smallness of Jerusalem. No large capital could have existed in such a situation. In point of area Jerusalem would ill compare with our larger London parishes, Marylebone or Islington. Yet no city in the world has so profoundly influenced the highest life of millions of the human race as has that little highland town in a remote province of the empire of Turkey.
IV. Once more, as the centuries went on, Jerusalem became yet dearer to the heart of Israel by misfortune. Of all that is most beautiful in life sorrow is the last consecration. Undoubtedly the author of our Psalm would already have seen in Jerusalem a pathos and a dignity which so often come with suffering, and those who used this Psalm in later ages would have felt increasingly this element of the attraction of the holy city.
V. The Jerusalem of Christian thought is no longer only or mainly the "city of David." It is first of all the visible and universal Church of Christ. And it suggests another city, a true haven of peace, into which all those true children of Zion who are joyful in their King will one day be received.
H. P. Liddon, Family Churchman, Aug. 25th, 1886 (see also Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxx., p. 113).
References: Psalm 122:3.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iii., p. 1; E. Thring, Uppingham Sermons, vol. ii., p. 389. Psalm 122:6.—J. Irons, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. xi., p. 425. Psalm 122:6, Psalm 122:7.—F. W. Farrar, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xix., p. 49. Psalm 122:7-9.—G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 254. Psalm 122:8.—F. W. Farrar, In the Days of thy Youth, p. 230. Psalm 122:9.—J. Irons, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. x., p. 233. Psalm 122—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., p. no; W. Scott, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxix., p. 56; S. Cox, The Pilgrim Psalms, p. 48.
Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together:
Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the LORD.
For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.
Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.
For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee.
Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good.