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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 122

A Song of degrees of David.

A true lover of Zion and its worship, but for some cause resident at some distance from the holy city and debarred of its religious privileges, joyfully accepts the invitation to go to the house of the Lord, Psalms 122:1. At this time Jerusalem is a strong city, (Psalms 122:3,) and the tribes already are accustomed to go up thither to the great annual feasts, Psalms 122:4. There, too, despite the political envy of sister tribes, of rival competitors, and of hostile nations, is established the throne of David, Psalms 122:5. The psalm is, in part, a retrospection, but more the fresh gushings of present joy and deep religious feeling and desire, Psalms 122:6. The salutation, (Psalms 122:7-9,) indicates that the psalm was sung at the moment of entering through the city gate. The Hebrew, and the version of Jerome, assign the psalm to David as its author, but the Septuagint and Vulgate give no author. This omission, however, does not invalidate the Hebrew title, and there is no reason to doubt that David was the author. Psalms 122:9 affords no proof against it: see note there. The psalm suits well the occasion of 2 Samuel 19:9-20, when the people invited David to return to Jerusalem to his throne. On title, see note on title of Psalms 120:0

Verse 1

1. I was glad Literally, A light of joy was in my face. A characteristic testimony that the religion of the Hebrews, according to the liturgy of Moses, induced joy and praise, not a sordid superstition, as the heathen slanderously charged. (TACITUS, History, B. 5, § 4.) The past tense gives us a retrospection, which some take as evidence that the language is that of a pious Jew in exile. But the whole tone of the psalm is that of present joy, as if written immediately after receiving the call to go to the house of God. On the invitation, Let us go, see Deuteronomy 33:19; Isaiah 2:3. House, here, is to be understood of place, or the tent containing the ark. See note on Psalms 116:19. Delight in the worship of God springs from the love of God, and makes the way to the house of prayer pleasant. See notes on Psalms 84:5-8

Verse 2

2. Shall stand Literally, Have been standing, or, have stood. So Septuagint, εστωτες ησαν , our feet have stood. This also is retrospective, but may apply to the recent past.

Verse 3

3. Compact together The city lay in a rocky region, between the valleys of Gihon on the west, and Kidron on the east, with an irregular circumference of (according to Josephus) thirty-three stadia (or a little less than three and four-fifths miles,) of the outer wall. The modern wall is about two and a half miles in circuit. Originally Jerusalem was composed of several sections, particularly the upper end lower city, (the name occurs five times in the Hebrew Bible, in the plural or dual,) lying on uneven ground, unequally fortified, and imperfectly united; but David captured, firmly united, and fortified the whole. 1Ch 11:7 ; 1 Chronicles 11:9. The text, “compact together,” or joined to itself together, probably refers to the means of connexion between the different parts. It may be used, too, to illustrate the spiritual Jerusalem, the Church, “builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:21-22

Verse 4

4. Tribes go up Tribes have gone up. The past tense indicates a custom established, which even the present implies.

Testimony of Israel Not “ unto the testimony of Israel,” as in our English version. The Hebrew simply reads, A testimony to Israel; that is, it was a testimony, or command to Israel to assemble three times in a year for sacrifice and worship at the place which God should designate, which was now Jerusalem. See Exodus 23:14-17; Exodus 34:23; Deuteronomy 16:16.

To give thanks As the end or object of their assembling.

Verse 5

5. There are set thrones There they established thrones. The Hebrew word for throne ( kisseh) means also a high seat, whether for honour and rank, or for authority and judgment. Judges 3:20; 1 Samuel 4:13; 1 Samuel 4:18; Esther 3:1. Here the plural “thrones” should be taken as seats of judicial and executive authority for the administration of justice established by David, and hence called “thrones of judgment,” “thrones of the house of David.” The force of the statement lies in the fact that the choice of Jerusalem, as the place of supreme judgment and of David’s kingly authority, had been sorely contested, but the attempt had proved abortive. The law required that the religious centre of the nation should be its supreme seat of judgment. Deuteronomy 7:8-12

Verses 6-7

6, 7. Peace of Jerusalem… peace… prosperity The “peace of Jerusalem” involved the peace of the nation, the “peace” of the Church, and the orderly and edifying worship of God. Prayer for the “peace” of the Church and the nation, is a prime religious duty. There is an alliteration in the Hebrew, curious and sprightly, (somewhat like shelom, shelaim, yish-lavoo, shalom, shalvah,) indicated in the following italicized words: “Pray for the peace of the city of peace, (Jeru- shalem, Hebrews 7:2;) they shall have peace that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and peace within thy palaces,” (Psalms 122:7,) is according to the true Hebrew salutation.

Numbers 6:26; Matthew 10:12-13

Verse 9

9. Because of the house of the Lord As in the previous verse the psalmist’s love of the brethren led him to wish peace to the city, so now the love of the house of God shows the love of God to be his leading motive. With a true Hebrew, religion underlaid patriotism. This alone could give the highest love of country, and offer the surest stability to government. Throughout this psalm the warmest piety and patriotism prevail, and a true spiritual and evangelical meaning lies beneath the letter. According to the common method of the Hebrews in expressing their spiritual faith and feelings, the language and metaphor seem to present only a secular garb; but the reader will do himself and the psalmist the highest injustice if he fails to trace a New Testament type of piety throughout. On “house,” as it bears on the question whether the temple was standing at this time, see on Psalms 122:1 and the reference there.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 122". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/psalms-122.html. 1874-1909.