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Bible Commentaries

Utley's You Can Understand the Bible

Psalms 122

Psalms 122:0

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASBNKJVNRSVTEVNJB
Prayer for the Peace of JerusalemMT IntroA Song of Ascents,of DavidThe Joy of Going to the House of the LordA Song Praising Zion as the Pilgrim's GoalIn Praise of JerusalemHail, Jerusalem
Psalms 122:1-5Psalms 122:1-2Psalms 122:1-2Psalms 122:1-2Psalms 122:1-2
Psalms 122:3-5Psalms 122:3-5Psalms 122:3-5Psalms 122:3-5
Psalms 122:6-9Psalms 122:6-9Psalms 122:6-9Psalms 122:6-9133:6-7
133:8-9

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Etc.

Verses 1-5

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 122:1-5 1I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” 2Our feet are standing Within your gates, O Jerusalem, 3Jerusalem, that is built As a city that is compact together; 4To which the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord An ordinance for Israel To give thanks to the name of the Lord. 5For there thrones were set for judgment, The thrones of the house of David.

Psalms 122:1 “they said to me” This Psalm describes a pilgrimage to the temple, probably on an annual feast day (cf. Psalms 122:4; Leviticus 23:0) or special called event.

The “they” would refer to

1. fellow pilgrims already on the road to Jerusalem

2. local Levites welcoming the pilgrims to Jerusalem

3. liturgical imagery

Jerusalem was the “special place” of God's dwelling during the United Monarchy and Divided Monarchy. After the Babylonian exile and the Jews were allowed to return (i.e., the decree of Cyrus, 538 B.C.), it became even more precious to the restored Israelites.

Psalms 122:2 The imagery of “feet” or “walking” is part of the theological language of a godly life. God's will was a clearly revealed path. The ultimate goal was arriving in the presence of God at the temple. This also functioned for the end-of-life fellowship with God (cf. Job 14:13-17; Psalms 23:4-6).

“Jerusalem” See Special Topic: Moriah, Salem, Jebus, Jerusalem, Zion.

Psalms 122:3 This is an unusual verse. It is difficult to know exactly what is being affirmed or praised. The verb (BDB 287, KB 287, Pual perfect) basically is used of joining things. In the Pual it denotes

1. curtains of the tabernacle - Exodus 28:7

2. post-exilic Jerusalem's rapidly built wall - Nehemiah 4:6

3. allies - Psalms 94:20

4. people living together - Ecclesiastes 9:4

Here it seems to denote a well-designed and well-connected city plan.

Psalms 122:4 In Deuteronomy Moses instructs Israel to go to a specific place to worship YHWH (e.g., Deuteronomy 16:16). This verse alludes to these annual worship gatherings (cf. Leviticus 23:0).

NASB“ordinance” NKJV, LXX, PESHITTA“testimony” NRSV“was decreed” TEV“command” NJB“a sign” JPSOA“was enjoined” REB“the duty”

This feminine noun (BDB 730) is usually translated “testimony.” See Special Topic: Terms Used for God's Revelation.

It is interesting that the DSS manuscript has “the community of Israel” instead of the noun phrase. Some translators have assumed that Psalms 122:3b also refers to a community of “united peoples.”

“Israel” See Special Topic: Israel (the name).

“To give thanks” This refers to

1. liturgy

2. offering (sacrifice)

“the name of the Lord” See Special Topic: “The Name” of YHWH.

In Psalms 122:4c the full covenant nameYHWH (BDB 217) is used, but the abbreviationYH (BDB 219) is used in Psalms 122:4a.

Psalms 122:5 The “throne” represented

1. legal decisions - Deuteronomy 17:8

2. kingship - Psalms 89:4, Psalms 89:29, Psalms 89:36; Psalms 132:12

God's promise to David about his descendants is found in 2 Samuel 7:0 and the Messianic aspect in Isaiah 9:0; Isaiah 11:0; Micah 5:0. See SPECIAL TOPIC: MESSIAH.

Verses 6-9

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 122:6-9 6Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you. 7May peace be within your walls, And prosperity within your palaces.” 8For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, “May peace be within you.” 9For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.

Psalms 122:6-9 This strophe denotes a call to prayer.

1. Qal imperative - Psalms 122:6a

2. two jussives - Psalms 122:6b, Psalms 122:7a

3. two cohortatives - Psalms 122:8b, Psalms 122:9b

Because Jerusalem was the capital of David's Kingdom and the permanent site of the temple, it had a special place of emphasis in the OT.

However, I think the NT has universalized the national promises to Israel to include all humanity. The focus of biblical faith is no longer the temple in Jerusalem but the new and superior temple in Jesus (see the book of Hebrews). Neither Jesus or any Apostle ever reaffirms the national, geographical promises to Israel. I know this is different from what you read/hear from many authors/preachers, seminaries. Please check the following Special Topics before you reject this theological assertion.

1. Special Topic: Why Do OT Covenant Promises Seem so Different From NT Covenant Promises?

2. Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan

Psalms 122:6 “peace” The term (see Special Topic: Peace [shalom]), “peace” (BDB 1022) forms part of the name “Jerusalem.” Remember the site of the temple was Mt. Moriah (cf. Genesis 22:0). In Genesis 14:0 it is called “Salem.” These word plays are not so much etymological as sound plays in Hebrew, but the words are not Hebrew.

Notice the number of sound plays in Psalms 122:6.

1. pray שׁאל -- (BDB 981, KB 1371)

2. peace שׁלום -- (BDB 1022)

3. Jerusalem ורישׁםל -- (BDB 436)

4. prosper שׁלה -- (BDB 1017, KB 1503)

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. To which period of Israel's history does this Psalm relate?

2. How is Psalms 122:5 related to 2 Samuel 7:0?

3. Should Christians still pray for Jerusalem's peace and prosperity?

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Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Psalms 122". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/psalms-122.html. 2021.