New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary


Psa 122:1

A Song of Ascents. By David-
The songs of ascents, part of the restoration Psalms, are relevant to any ‘ascent’ or ‘going up’ to the Lord’s house. They are full of reference to God’s eternal purpose with Jerusalem and the temple. It seems to me that they may have been re-written under inspiration with reference to God’s people returning from Babylon to Jerusalem. “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go unto the house of the Lord” (Psalms 122:1)- the feelings of a faithful Jew in Babylon responding to Cyrus’ decree. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalms 122:6)- the faithful in Babylon praying for Zion.

I was glad when they said to me, Let’s go up to Yahweh’s house!-
This may have begun as David's prophetic anticipation of the day when the temple would be built, and he would be invited to go up there in worship- implying his faith in bodily resurrection, seeing he had been told that such a temple would not be built in his lifetime. But the Psalm is obviously used in hope that the temple would be restored and the exiles with joy would receive the invitation to "go up" there. But the reality was so different; the majority of them refused to "go up" when invited to by Cyrus, preferring exile in opulent Persia. And so these things are reapplied to a new Israel and a new temple.  

Psa 122:2

Our feet shall stand within your gates, Jerusalem-
This is the more pertinent to the exiles when we recall that the gates of Jerusalem were totally broken down.

Psa 122:3

Jerusalem, that is built as a city that is compact together-
Again we recall that at the time of the exiles, Jerusalem was not at all "built" but was in ruins. The exiles were invited to return and build it into a compact city, rather than a broken down set of ruins. "Compact together" could be translated to the effect that it was built in fellowship together, perhaps referring to the unity of the builders and the unity to be found within it. But the majority turned down the invitation and remained in Persia / Babylon; and the exiles were anything but united, as the records in Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai-Malachi make clear. These things therefore come ultimately true in the things of the new Jerusalem which the New Testament speaks of.

Psa 122:4

where the tribes go up, even Yah’s tribes, according to an ordinance for Israel, to give thanks to the name of Yahweh-
The implication is that the true Israel go up to keep the feasts at the sanctuary. The fact most of the exiles didn't want to "go up" therefore precluded them from being the true Israel. The Psalm had its historical origin in David's longing to be able to get to the sanctuary to keep the feasts (Ps. 42:2 etc.). This was to be the longing of the exiles to return to Zion; but generally, they preferred to remain in exile.

Psa 122:5

For there are set thrones for judgment, the thrones of David’s house-
This was a Psalm by David, originally (:1). He looked for the day when his throne would be established in Jerusalem, replacing the throne of Saul. "Thrones" may be an intensive plural for the one great throne- that of David, which would also be the time of judgment on all those who had opposed him. This will finally be fulfilled in the reestablishment of David's throne, when the Lord Jesus returns to Jerusalem. And that throne will also be the throne of His judgment, which will also be in Jerusalem (rather than in Sinai, as some curiously believe).   

Psa 122:6

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; those who love you will prosper-
Peace was impossible for Jerusalem until Judah repented (Jer. 4:10; Ez. 13:16). "Peace" in the Bible is often 'peace with God'. The desire was therefore for the day to come when Judah would repent, and the restoration prophecies of Judah's peace would come true. Peace will only finally go forth from Jerusalem when the latter day invaders are destroyed and the Lord Jesus establishes His Kingdom there (Zech. 9:10 s.w.).

Psa 122:7

Peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces-
This was to be in contrast with how the enemies of Zion apparently prospered in her destruction (s.w. Lam. 1:5). This is a prayer that the current situation will be inverted. Zion's destruction had been because "prosperity" had led them to turn away from their God (s.w. Jer. 22:21; Ez. 16:49). The prayer was that prosperity would come without the tendency to unspirituality which it brings in a secular sense.  

Psa 122:8

For my brothers’ and companions’ sakes I will now say, Peace be within you-
The returning exiles were to be aware that their desire for the peace of Jerusalem, the fulfilment of the restoration prophecies and the end of the 70 year exile, were not to be simply for their own sake; but for the sake of their distant brothers and also their companions with them on the journey. We likewise must not wish our place in the Kingdom or the coming of that Kingdom purely for our own sakes; but for that of the wider community.

Psa 122:9

For the sake of the house of Yahweh our God, I will seek your good-
'Seeking the good' of Jerusalem is exactly the phrase used in the context of the restoration in Neh. 2:10. And in response, God would 'seek the good' of all who sought the good of Jerusalem (s.w. Ezra 8:22). The idea may be that the returning exiles were to seek the good of their brethren (:8) for the sake of the restored Kingdom / house of God. "The good" of both their brethren and the Kingdom of God was one and the same- the restored Kingdom to the glory of Yahweh.