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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 Psalms 122:1. 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 Psalms 122:2. 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 Psalms 122:3. 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 Psalms 122:4. 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 Psalms 122:5. 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 Psalms 122:6. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem — שלום 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.
שאלו שלום ירושלם ישליו אהביך
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 Psalms 122:7. 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 Psalms 122:8. 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 Psalms 122:9. 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, Jeremiah 29:7: "And seek שלום 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!
The psalmist, in the person of the people, -
I. Expresses his joy that he might join with the Church in God's service, Psalms 122:1-2.
II. Commends the Church, under the name of Jerusalem, for her unity, Psalms 122:3; religious worship, Psalms 122:4; civil and ecclesiastical policy, Psalms 122:5.
III. Exhorts all to pray for its peace and prosperity, Psalms 122:6; and puts the form of prayer into their mouths, Psalms 122:7.
IV. Shows his own readiness to do this, and offers up his supplications, Psalms 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, Exodus 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!
These files are public domain.
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 122". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany