Psalm 122 (NIV)
1 I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
2 Our feet are standing
in your gates, Jerusalem.
3 Jerusalem is built like a city
that is closely compacted together.
4 That is where the tribes go up—
the tribes of the Lord—
to praise the name of the Lord
according to the statute given to Israel.
5 There stand the thrones for judgment,
the thrones of the house of David.
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
7 May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
8 For the sake of my family and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your prosperity.
While the first two Psalms of Ascents were profoundly aware of the dangers and hostility that beset us in this life, Psalm 122 bursts forth with exuberant joy at the anticipation of arriving in Jerusalem. That is where God’s people gather, where God’s judgments make everything right, where righteousness is enthroned, and where there is peace. Jerusalem represented all of these beautiful longings. We know all too well that Jerusalem rarely actually fulfilled those longings, and when it did, it was only in part. We have all these same yearnings, though they are no longer geographically centered in Jerusalem. For the Jews, Jerusalem was the place of God’s presence and from God’s presence would flow forth all righteousness and justice and goodness and peace.
We share in the psalmist’s longing for God’s presence, but we know that it has now come to us through Immanuel—God with us in Jesus Christ. God’s presence is with us by the Holy Spirit, and no longer confined to a geographic location. God’s presence is mediated among us when we gather with other believers as the church. And ultimately, we join the joyful anticipation of this psalm of ascents as we long for the coming of the New Jerusalem in the New Creation (Rev. 21:1–5), when God will eternally dwell with us and we will be in his presence forever. Even now, we can sing with great joy, “Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem” (Ps. 122:2), because in Christ, we are already within the gate (John 10:9); and by the Holy Spirit, we dwell in the presence of God and his people.