Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher - Works Upon This Psalm
TITLE AND SUBJECT. This brief but spirited Psalm is
entitled "A Song of Degrees of David", and thus we are informed as go its
author, and the occasion for which it was designed: David wrote it for the
people to sing at the time of their goings up to the holy feasts at Jerusalem.
It comes third in the series, and appears to be suitable to be sung when the
people had entered the gates, and their feet stood within the city. It was most
natural that they should sing of Jerusalem itself, and invoke peace and
prosperity upon the Holy City, for it was the centre of their worship, and the
place where the Lord revealed himself above the mercy seat. Possibly the city
was not all built in David's day, but he wrote under the spirit of prophecy, and
spoke of it as it would be in the age of Solomon; a poet has license to speak of
things, not only as they are, but as they will be when they come to their
perfection. Jerusalem, or the Habitation of Peace, is used as the key word of
this Psalm, wherein we have in the original many happy allusions to the salem,
or peace, which they implored upon Jerusalem. When they stood within the triple
walls, all things around the pilgrims helped to explain the words which they
sang within her ramparts of strength. One voice led the Psalm with its personal
"I, " but ten thousand brethren and companions united with the first musician
and swelled the chorus of the strain.
Verse 1. I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into
the house of the LORD. Good children are pleased to go home, and glad
to hear their brothers and sisters call them thither. David's heart was in the
worship of God, and he was delighted when he found others inviting him to go
where his desires had already gone: it helps the ardour of the most ardent to
hear others inviting them to a holy duty. The word was not "go, "but "let us
go"; hence the ear of the Psalmist found a double joy in it. He was glad for
the sake of others:glad that they wished to go themselves, glad that they
had the courage and liberality to invite others. He knew that it would do them
good; nothing better can happen to men and their friends than to love the place
where God's honour dwelleth. What a glorious day shall that be when many people
shall go and say, "Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the
house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in
his paths." But David was glad for his own sake:he loved the invitation
to the holy place, he delighted in being called to go to worship in company,
and, moreover, he rejoiced that good people thought enough of him to extend
their invitation to him. Some men would have been offended, and would have said,
"Mind your own business. Let my religion alone; "but not so King David, though
he had mote dignity than any of us, and less need to be reminded of his duty. He
was not teased but pleased by being pressed to attend holy services. He was glad
to go into the house of the Lord, glad to go in holy company, glad to find good
men and women willing to have him in their society. He may have been sad before,
but this happy suggestion cheered him up: he pricked up his ears, as the proverb
puts it, at the very mention of his Father's house. Is it so with us? Are we
glad when others invite us to public worship, or to church fellowship? Then we
shall be glad when the spirits above shall call us to the house of the Lord not
made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
"Hark! they whisper: angels say,
Sister spirit, come away."
If we are glad to be called by others to our Father's house,
how much more glad shall we be actually to go there. We love our Lord, and
therefore we love his house, and pangs of strong desire are upon us that we may
soon reach the eternal abode of his glory. An aged saint: when dying, cheered
herself with this evidence of grace, for she cried, "I have loved the habitation
of thine house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth, "and therefore she
begged that she might join the holy congregation of those who for ever behold
the King in his beauty. Our gladness at the bare thought of being in God's house
is detective as to our character, and prophetic of our being one day happy in
the Father's house on high. What a sweet Sabbath Psalm is this! In prospect of
the Lord's day, and all its hallowed associations, our soul rejoices. How well,
also, may it refer to the, church! We are happy when we see numerous bands ready
to unite themselves with the people of God. The pastor is specially glad when
many come forward and ask of him assistance in entering into fellowship with the
church. No language is more cheering to him than the humble request, "Let us go
into the house of the Lord."
Verse 2. Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem;
or, better, "our feet are standing." The words imply present and joyous
standing within the walls of the city of peace; or perhaps the pilgrims felt so
sure of getting there that they antedated the joy, and spoke as if they were
already there, though they were as yet only on the road. If we are within the
church we may well triumph in the fact. While our feet are standing in Jerusalem
our lips may well be singing. Outside the gates all is danger, and one day all
will be destruction; but within the gates all is safely, seclusion, serenity,
salvation, and glory. The gates are opened that we may pass in, and they are
only shut that our enemies may not follow us. The Lord loveth the gates of Zion,
and so do we when we are enclosed within them. What a choice favour, to be a
citizen of the New Jerusalem! Why are we so greatly favoured? Many feet
are running the downward road, or kicking against the pricks, or held by snares,
or sliding to an awful fall; but our feet, through grace divine, are "standing"
--an honourable posture, "within thy gates, O Jerusalem" --an honourable position,
and there shall they stand for ever--an honourable future.
Verse 3. Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact
together. David saw in vision the city built; no more a waste, or a mere
collection of tents, or a city upon paper, commenced but not completed. God's
mercy to the Israelitish nation allowed of peace and plenty, sufficient for the
uprise and perfecting of its capital: that City flourished in happy times, even
as the church is only built up when all the people of God are prospering. Thanks
be to God, Jerusalem is builded: the Lord by his glorious appearing has built up
Zion. Furthermore, it is not erected as a set of booths, or a conglomeration of
hovels, but as a city, substantial, architectural, designed, arranged, and
defended. The church is a permanent and important institution, founded on a
rock, builded with art, and arranged with wisdom. The city of God had this
peculiarity about it, that it was not a long, straggling street, or a city of
magnificent distances (as some mere skeleton places have been styled), but the
allotted space was filled, the buildings were a solid block, a massive unity:
this struck the dwellers in villages, and conveyed to them the idea of close
neighbourhood, sure standing, and strong defence. No quarter could be surprised
and sacked while other portions of the town were unaware of the assault: the
ramparts surrounded every part of the metropolis, which was singularly one and
indivisible. There was no flaw in this diamond of the world, this pearl of
cities. In a church one of the most delightful conditions is the compactness of
unity: "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." A church should be one in creed and
one in heart, one in testimony and one in service, one in aspiration and one in
sympathy. They greatly injure our Jerusalem who would build dividing walls
within her; she needs compacting, not dividing. There is no joy in going up to a
church which is rent with internal dissension: the gladness of holy men is
aroused by the adhesiveness of love, the unity of life; it would be their
sadness if they saw the church to be a house divided against itself. Some bodies
of Christians appear to be periodically blown to fragments, and no gracious man
is glad to be in the way when the explosions take place: thither the tribes do
not go up, for strife and contention are not attractive forces.
Verse 4. Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD.
When there is unity within there will be gatherings from without: the tribes go
up to a compact centre. Note that Israel was one people, but yet it was in a
sense divided by the mere surface distinction of tribes; and this may be a
lesson to us that all Christendom is essentially one, though from various causes
we are divided into tribes. Let us as much as possible sink the tribal
individuality in the national unity, so that the church may be many waves, but
one sea; many branches, but one tree; many members, but one body. Observe that
the tribes were all of them the Lord's; whether Judah or Benjamin, Manasseh or
Ephraim, they were all the Lord's. Oh that all the regiments of the Christian
army may be all and equally the Lord's own, alike chosen, redeemed, accepted,
and upheld by Jehovah. Unto the testimony of Israel. They went up to the holy city
to hear and to bear testimony. Everything in the temple was a testimony unto the
Lord, and the annual journeys of the tribes to the hallowed shrine partook of
the same testifying character, for these journeys were Israel's open avowal that
Jehovah was their God, and that he was the one only living and true God. When we
assemble on the Sabbath a large part of our business is giving out and receiving
testimony: we are God's witnesses; all the tribes of the one church of Jesus
Christ bear witness unto the Lord.
To give thanks unto the name of the LORD. Another part of
our delightful duty is to praise the Lord. Sacred praise is a chief design of
the assembling of ourselves together. All Israel had been fed by the fruit of
the field, and they went up to give thanks unto the name of their great
Husbandman: we, too, have countless mercies, and it becomes us unitedly in our
solemn gatherings to magnify the name of our loving Lord. Testimony should be
mingled with thanks, and thanks with testimony, for in combination they bless
both God and man, and tend to spread themselves over the hearts of our
companions; who, seeing our joyful gratitude, are the more inclined to hearken
to our witness bearing. Here, then, was part of the cause of the gladness of the pious
Israelite when he had an invitation to join the caravan which was going to Zion:
he would there meet with representatives of all the clans of his nation, and aid
them in the double object of their holy assemblies, namely, testimony and
thanksgiving. The very anticipation of such delightful engagements filled him to
overflowing with sacred gladness.
Verse 5. For there are set thrones of judgment. If
discontented with the petty judgments of their village lords, the people could
bring their hard matters to the royal seat, and the beloved King would be sure
to decide aright; for the judgment thrones were The thrones of the house of David. We who come to the
church and its public worship are charmed to come to the throne of God, and to
the throne of the reigning Saviour.
"He reigns! Ye saints, exalt your strains:
Your God is King, your Father reigns:
And he is at the Father's side,
The Man of love, the Crucified."
To a true saint the throne is never more amiable than in its
judicial capacity; righteous men love judgment, and are glad that right will be
rewarded and iniquity will be punished. To see God reigning in the Son of David
and evermore avenging the just cause is a thing which is good for weeping eyes,
and cheering for disconsolate hearts. They sang of old as they went towards the
throne, and so do we. "The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice." The throne of
judgment is not removed, but firmly "set, "and there it shall remain till
the work of justice is accomplished, and truth and right are set on the throne
with their King. Happy people to be under so glorious a rule.
Verse 6. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Peace was her
name, pray that her condition may verify her title. Abode of Peace, peace be to
thee. Here was a most sufficient reason for rejoicing at the thought of going up
to the house of the Lord, since that sacred shrine stood in the centre of an
area of peace: well might Israel pray that such peace should be continued. In a
church peace is to be desired, expected, promoted, and enjoyed. If we may not
say "Peace at any price, "yet we may certainly cry "Peace at the highest price."
Those who are daily fluttered by rude alarms are charmed to reach their nest in
a holy fellowship, and abide in it. In a church one of the main ingredients of
success is internal peace: strife, suspicion, party spirit, division, --these are
deadly things. Those who break the peace of the church deserve to suffer, and
those who sustain it win a great blessing. Peace in the church should be our
daily prayer, and in so praying we shall bring down peace upon ourselves; for
the Psalmist goes on to say, They shall prosper that love thee, or, perhaps we may read
it as a prayer, "May they have peace that love thee." Whether the passage be
regarded as a promise or as a prayer matters not, for prayer pleads the promise,
and the promise is the ground of prayer. Prosperity of soul is already enjoyed
by those who take a deep interest in the church and cause of God: they are men
of peace, and find peace in their holy endeavours: God's people pray for them,
and God himself delights in them. Prosperity of worldly condition often comes to
the lovers of the church if they are able to bear it: many a time the house of
Obededom is blessed because of the ark of the Lord. Because the Egyptian
midwives feared the Lord, therefore the Lord made them houses. No man shall ever
be a permanent loser by the house of the Lord: in peace of heart alone. If in
nothing else, we find recompense enough for all that we can do in promoting the
interests of Zion.
Verse 7. Peace be within thy walls. See how the poet
personifies the church, and speaks to it: his heart is with Zion, and therefore
his conversation runs in that direction. A second time is the sweet favour of
peace earnestly sought after: "There is none like it, give it me." Walls were
needed to keep out the foe, but it was asked of the Lord that those walls might
prove sufficient for her security. May the munitions of rock so securely defend
the city of God that no intruder may ever enter within her enclosure. May her
ramparts repose in safety. Three walls environed her, and thus she had a trinity
of security. And prosperity within thy palaces, or "Repose within thy
palaces." Peace is prosperity; there can be no prosperity which is not based on
peace, nor can there long be peace if prosperity be gone, for decline of grace
breeds decay of love. We wish for the church rest from internal dissension and
external assault: war is not her element, but we read of old, "Then had the
churches rest; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the
Holy Ghost, were multiplied." The bird of Paradise is not a sternly petrel: her
element is not the hurricane of debate, but the calm of communion. Observe that our Jerusalem is a city of palaces: kings dwell
within her walls, and God himself is there. The smallest Church is worthy of
higher honour than the greatest confederacies of nobles. The order of the New
Jerusalem is of more repute in heaven than the knights of the Golden Fleece. For
the sake of all the saintly spirits which inhabit the city of God we may well
entreat for her the boons of lasting peace and abounding prosperity.
Verse 8. For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say,
Peace be within thee. It is to the advantage of all Israel that there
should be peace in Jerusalem. It is for the good of every Christian, yea, of
every man, that there should be peace and prosperity in the church. Here our
humanity and our common philanthropy assist our religious prayer. By a
flourishing church our children, our neighbours, our fellow countrymen are
likely to be blest. Moreover, we cannot but pray for a cause with which our
dearest relatives and choicest friends are associated: if they labour for it, we
must and will pray for it. Here peace is mentioned for the third time. Are not
these frequent threes some hint of the Trinity? It would be hard to believe that
the triple form of so many parts of the Old Testament is merely accidental. At
least, the repetition of the desire displays the writer's high valuation of the
blessing mentioned; he would not again and again have invoked peace had he not
perceived its extreme desirableness.
Verse 9. Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek
thy good. He prays for Jerusalem because of Zion. How the church
salts and savours all around it. The presence of Jehovah, our God, endears to us
every place wherein he reveals his glory. Well may we seek her good within whose
walls there dwells God who alone is good. We are to live for God's cause, and to
be ready to die for it. First we love it (Ps 122:6) and then we labour for it,
as in this passage: we see its good, and then seek its good. If we can do
nothing else we can intercede for it. Our covenant relation to Jehovah as our
God binds us to pray for his people, --they are "the house of the Lord our God."
If we honour our God we desire the prosperity of the church which he has chosen
for his indwelling. Thus is the poet glad of an invitation to join with others in
the Lord's service. He goes with them and rejoices, and then he turns his
delight into devotion, and intercedes for the city of the great King. O church
of the living God, we hail thine assemblies, and on bended knee we pray that
thou mayest have peace and felicity. May our Jehovah so send it. Amen.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. Foxe, in his "Acts and Monuments, "relates of
Wolfgang Schuch, the martyr, of Lothareng in Germany, that upon hearing the
sentence that he was to be burned pronounced upon him, he began to sing the
hundred and twenty second Psalm, Laetus sum in his quae dicta suni
Whole Psalm. Perhaps the true text of this Psalm is found
in its designation, "A Song of Degrees." Every verse is treated as a degree of
advancement in the spiritual life, beginning with "help" from the eternal
"hills" for the trials of time, closing with preservation "for evermore."
Verse 1. I was glad when they said unto me, etc. Gregory
Nazianzen writeth that his father being a heathen, and often besought by his
wife to become a Christian, had this verse suggested unto him in a dream, and
was much wrought upon thereby. John Trapp.
Verse 1. I was glad when they said, etc. These words seem to
be very simple, and to contain in them no great matter; but if you look into the
same with spiritual eyes, there appeareth a wonderful great majesty in them;
which because our Papists cannot see, they do so coldly and negligently pray,
read, and sing this Psalm and others, that a man would think there were no tale
so foolish or vain, which they would not either recite or hear with more courage
and delight. These words, therefore, must be unfolded and laid before the eyes
of the faithful: for when he saith, We will go into the house of the
Lord, what notable thing can we see in these words, if we only behold the
stones, timber, gold, and other ornaments of the material temple? But to go into
the house of the Lord signifieth another manner of thing; namely, to come
together where we may have God present with us, hear his word, call upon his
holy name, and receive help and succour in our necessity. Therefore it is a
false definition of the temple which the Papists make; that it is a house built
with stones and timber to the honour of God. What this temple is they themselves
know not; for the temple of Solomon was not therefore beautiful because it was
adorned with gold and silver, and other precious ornaments; but the true beauty
of the temple was, because in that place the people heard the word of the Lord,
called upon his name, found him merciful, giving peace and remission of sins,
etc. This is rightly to behold the temple, and not as the visored bishops behold
their idolatrous temple when they consecrate it. Martin Luther.
Verse 1. I was glad when they said unto me, Let us (or, We
will) go, etc. You have here,
1. David's delight.
2. The object or reason of it.
In the object there are circumstances enough to raise his joy
to the highest note.
First, A company, either a tribe, or many of, or all,
the people: "They said unto me." So, in another place, he speaketh of "walking
to the house of God in company:" Ps 55:14. A glorious sight, a representation of
heaven itself, of all the angels crying aloud, the Seraphim to the Cherubim, and
the Cherubim echoing back again to the Seraphim, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of
Secondly, Their resolution to serve the Lord:
Dixerunt, "They said it:" and "to say" in Scripture is to resolve. "We
will go, "is either a lie, or a resolution.
Thirdly, Their agreement and joint consent: "We, "This
is as a circle, and taketh in all within its compass. If there be any
dissenting, unwilling person, he is not within this circumference, he is none of
the "We." A Turk, a Jew, and a Christian cannot say, "We will serve the Lord;
"and the schismatic or separatist shutteth himself out of the house of the Lord.
"We" is a bond of peace, keepeth us at unity, and maketh many as one.
Fourthly, Their cheerfulness and alacrity. They speak
like men going out of a dungeon into the light, as those who had been long
absent from what they loved, and were now approaching unto it, and in fair hope
to enjoy what they most earnestly desired: "We will go; "we will make haste, and
delay no longer. Ipsa festinatio tarda est; "Speed itself is but slow
paced." We cannot be there soon enough.
Fifthly and lastly: The place where they will serve
God:not one of their own choosing; not the groves, or hills, or high places;
no oratory which pride, or malice, or faction had erected; but a place appointed
and set apart by God himself. Servient Domino in domo sua:"They
will serve the Lord in his own house." They said unto me, "We will go into the
house of the Lord." Anthony Farindon.
Verse 1. Let us go into the house of the Lord. "Let us
go, " spoken by one hundred men in any city to those over whom they have
influence, would raise a monster meeting... But who among those who thus single
out the working classes, have gone to them and said, "Let us go--let us go
together into the house of the Lord"? The religious adviser, standing at a
distance from the multitude, has advised, and warned, and pleaded, saying, "Go,
or you will not escape perdition; ""Why don't you go?" The Christian visitor has
likewise used this kind of influence; but how few have taken the working man by
the hand, and said, "Let us go together"? You can bring multitudes whom
you never can send. Many who would never come alone would come most willingly
under the shadow of your company. Then, brethren, to your nonattending neighbour
say, "Let us go"; to reluctant members of your own family say, "Let us go"; to
those who once went to the house of God in your company, but who have
backslidden from worship say, "Let us go"; to all whose ear, and mind, and
heart, you can command for such a purpose say, "Let us go--let us go together
into the house of the Lord." Samuel Martin (1817-1878), in a Sermon
entitled "Gladness in the Prospect of Public Worship."
Verse 1. I was glad when they said unto me, etc. Such in
kind, but far greater in degree, is the gladness, which the pious soul
experiences when she is called hence; when descending angels say unto her, Thy
labour and sorrow are at an end, and the hour of thy enlargement is come; put
off immortality and misery at once; quit thy house of bondage, and the land of
thy captivity; fly forth, and "let us go together into the house of the Lord,
not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." George Horne.
Verses 1-2. This is a mutual exhortation. The members of the
church invite each other: "Let us go into the house of the Lord." It is not
enough to say, Go you to church, and I shall stop at home. That will never do.
We must invite by example as well as by precept. Mark the plural forms: "Let
us go into the house of God. Our feet shall stand within thy
gates, O Jerusalem." We are to speak as Moses did to Hobab, his brother-in-law,
"Come thou with us, and we will do thee good; for the Lord hath spoken good
concerning Israel." The same duty is binding upon us, with regard to those who
make no profession of religion, and whose feet never stand in the house of God.
Zechariah, in an animated picture of the future glories of the church, describes
the newborn zeal of the converts as taking this direction. They cannot but speak
of what they have seen and heard, and others must share in their joy. "And the
inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray
before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts: I will go also." N.
Verse 2. With what a blessed hope do they, while they are
here in this mortal life, lift up their affections, desires, and thoughts to the
heavenly country, because they are able to say with the prophet, Our feet
stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. Like those who haste to any place, they
are said to be always thinking as if they were already there, and in reality
they are there in mind though not in body, and are able greatly to comfort
others. What wonder, if a righteous man, wishing to comfort others, should thus
speak, "Our feet stand, "i.e., our desires, our contemplations,
shall be fixed and stable in thy courts, O Jerusalem; i.e., in the
mansions of the heavenly kingdom, so that our conversation shall be in heaven,
and all our works be done in relation to eternal life, for which we long with
greatest intensity of desire. This is not that Jerusalem which killed the
prophets and stoned those that were sent unto her, but that where the perfect
vision of peace reigns. Paulus Palanterius.
Verse 2. Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.
Dr. Clarke, in his travels, speaking of the companies that were travelling from
the East to Jerusalem, represents the procession as being very long, and, after
climbing over the extended and heavy ranges of hills that bounded the way, some
of the foremost at length reached the top of the last hill, and, stretching up
their hands in gestures of joy, cried out, "The Holy City! The Holy City!" --and
fell down and worshipped; while those who were behind pressed forward to see. So
the dying Christian, when he gets on the last summit of life, and stretches his
vision to catch a glimpse of the heavenly city, may cry out of its glories, and
incite those who are behind to press forward to the sight. Edward Payson,
Verse 2. O Jerusalem. The celestial city is full in my view.
Its glories beam upon me, its breezes fan me, its odours are wafted to me, its
sounds strike upon my ears, and its spirit is breathed into my heart. Nothing
separates me from it but the river of death, which now appears but as an
insignificant rill, that may be crossed at a single step, whenever God shall
give permission. The Sun of Righteousness has been gradually drawing nearer and
nearer, appearing larger and brighter as he approached, and now he fills the
whole hemisphere; pouring forth a flood of glory, in which I seem to float like
an insect in the beams of the sun; exulting, yet almost trembling, while I gaze
on this excessive brightness, and wondering, with unutterable wonder, why God
should deign thus to shine upon a sinful worm. Edward Payson's dying
Verse 2. O Jerusalem
Lo, towered Jerusalem salutes the eyes!
A thousand pointing fingers tell the tale;
"Jerusalem!" a thousand voices cry,
"All hail, Jerusalem!" hill, down, and dale
Catch the glad sounds, and shout "Jerusalem, all hail."
--Torquato Tasso, 1544-1595.
Verse 4. The tribes are "the tribes of the Lord, "as being
the keepers of his commandments. H. T. Armfield.
Verse 4. Unto the testimony of Israel, and to give thanks unto
the name of the Lord. These two mean nothing else than that in
Jerusalem was the appointed place where the word was to be taught and prayer
offered. But these ought to be written in golden letters, because David says
nothing about the other services, but only of these two. He does not say that
the Temple was divinely appointed, that there the victims should be sacrificed;
that there incense should be offered; that oblations and sacrifices should be
brought; that each one should by his gifts show his gratitude. He says nothing
about these things, although only in the Temple were they commanded to be done.
He makes mention only of prayer and of thanksgiving. Martin Luther.
Verse 4. The testimony of Israel. The object which is
represented in the Psalm as having power to attract all hearts, and command the
ready attendance of the tribes, is "the testimony of Israel, "the
revelation, in other words, which God made to that people of his character,
feelings, and purposes, as most holy, yet ready to forgive, a just God and the
Saviour. This discovery of the nature of that great Being before whom all must
appear, is justly regarded as a ground of joy. Robert Nisbet.
Verses 4-5. Observe what a goodly sight it was to see
the testimony of Israel and the thrones of judgment such
near neighbours; and they are good neighbours, which may greatly befriend one
another. Let "the testimony of Israel" direct the "thrones of
judgment, "and the "thrones of judgment" protect "the
testimony of lsrael." Matthew Henry.
Verse 5. Thrones of judgment. On a throne of ivory, brought
from Africa or India, the throne of many an Arabian legend, the kings of Judah
were solemnly seated on the day of their accession. From its lofty seat, and
under that high gateway, Solomon and his successors after him delivered their
solemn judgments. That "porch" or "gate of justice, "still kept alive the
likeness of the old patriarchal custom of sitting in judgment at the gate;
exactly as the Gate of Justice still recalls it to us at Granada, and the
Sublime Porte--"the Lofty Gate" at Constantinople. He sat on the back of a golden
bull, its head turned over its shoulder, probably the ox or bull of Ephraim;
under his feet, on each side of the steps, were six golden lions, probably the
lions of Judah. This was "the seat of judgment." This was the throne of the
house of David. Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, in "Lectures on the History of the
Verse 5. It was a worthy commendation that David uttered in
the praise of Jerusalem when he said, There is the seat for judgment; the
which appointing of that seat for judgment was an argument that they loved
justice. And first, the place wherein it was set assures us hereof, for it was
set in the gate, where through men might have passage to and from the judgment
seat. Secondly, the manner of framing the seat in the gate, namely, that the
judges of force must sit with their faces towards the rising of the sun, in
token that then judgment should be as pure from corruption, as the sun was clear
in his chiefest brightness. Oh happy house of David, whose seat was set so
conveniently, whose causes were heard so carefully, and matters judged so
justly! Henry Smith, 1560-1591.
Verse 6. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. By praying for
Jerusalem's peace is meant such serene times wherein the people of God might
enjoy his pure worship without disturbance. The Church has always had her
vicissitudes, sometimes fair, and sometimes foul weather; but her winter
commonly longer than her summer; yea, at the same time that the Sun of peace
brings day to one part of it, another is wrapped up in the night of persecution.
Universal peace over all the churches is a great rarity. William Gumall.
Verse 6. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. When the Wesleyan
Methodists opened a chapel at Painswick, near his own meeting, the late
excellent Cornelius Winter prayed three times publicly the preceding Sabbath for
their encouragement and success. When Mr. Hoskins, of Bristol, the Independent
minister of Castle Green, opened a meeting in Temple Street; what did the
incomparable Easterbrooke, the Vicar of the parish? The morning it was opened,
he was almost the first that entered it, He seated himself near the pulpit. When
the service was over, he met the preacher at the foot of the stairs, and shaking
him with both hands, said aloud: "I thank you cordially, my dear brother, for
coming to my help--here is room enough for us both; and work enough for us both;
and much more than we can both accomplish: and I hope the Lord will bless our
cooperation in this good cause." William Jay.
Verse 6. Pray (with this princely prophet) for the peace of
Jerusalem. I wish I could express the incomparable sweetness of this
little hemistichium. I guess, the Holy Ghost was pleased to let the
Psalmist play the poet here: the Psalms are holy poetry. The original words have
such elegancy here, as (I think) all the Scripture cannot parallel this verse.
It is in English inexpressible. For the point in hand only, he bids us pray for
the peace of Jerusalem. Peace denominates Jerusalem, `tis
the etymon of the word, it means the vision of peace. David by that term
most sweetly alludes to the name of the city, yet conceals his wit; which could
have been made more open: he said, Mlv Mwlv
wlav, "Pray for the peace of Salem." For so it was called
too, called first so, called still so (Ps 76:2) "At Salem is his tabernacle."
That word merely sounds peace: God would have his Church the house of peace; and
his temple there David might not build because he was a man of war; but Solomon
his son, who had his name of peace, must build it. Christ, whose the church is,
she his spouse, would not be born in Julius Caesar's reign; he was a warrior
too: but in Augustus's days, who reigned in peace. And this may be a reason too,
if you please, why David bids pray but for peace only, an earthly blessing. That
word most fitted his art here, and sounded best. But under that word, by
poetical synecdoche, he couched all heavenly blessings. Richard
Verse 6. Pray, etc. Our praying for the church giveth us a
share in all the church's prayers; we have a venture in every ship of prayer
that maketh a voyage for heaven, if our hearts be willing to pray for the
church; and if not, we have no share in it. Let no man flatter himself: they that pray not for the
church of God love not the church of God. Let them prosper that
love thee; that is, that pray for thee, the one is the
counterpart of the other. If we do not love it, we will not pray for it; and if
we do not pray for it, we do not love it. Yea, if we pray not for the church,
we lose our share in the prayers of the church. You will say that man
hath a great estate that hath a part in every ship at sea; and yet to have an
adventure in all the prayers that are made to heaven is better than all the
world. All the church's prayers are for all the living members of it, viz. --the
blessings will be to them, for a man to have a venture ill every ship of prayer
of all the churches throughout all the world. I would not (for my part) leave my
share in it for all the world; and that man hath no share in it that will not
afford a prayer for the church. John Stoughton, 1640.
Verse 6. They shall prosper that love thee. The word
"prosper" conveys an idea which is not in the original. The Hebrew word
means to be secure, tranquil, at rest, spoken especially of one who
enjoys quiet prosperity: Job 3:26 12:6. The essential idea is that of quietness
or rest; and the meaning here is, that those who love Zion will have
peace; or, that the tendency of that love is to produce peace. See Ro 5:1. The
prayer was for "peace"; the thought in connexion with that was naturally that
those who loved Zion would have peace. It is indeed true, in general,
that they who love Zion, or who serve God, will "prosper"; but that is
not the truth taught here. The idea is that they will have peace:--peace
with God; peace in their own consciences; peace in the prospect of death and of
the future world; peace amidst the storms and tempests of life; peace in death,
in the grave, and for ever. Albert Barnes.
Verse 6. They shall prosper that love thee. Seeing they
prosper that love and bear affection to Jerusalem, let men learn to show good
will unto Christ's church, though as yet they be no ripe scholars themselves in
Christ's school: though they be not grown to perfection let them express a good
affection. A good will and inclination, where strength yet faileth, is accepted,
and a ready disposition is not rejected: though thou be not yet of the saints,
yet love the saints. If thou likest and lovest that thou wouldst be, thou must
be that hereafter which yet thou art not. The little bird before she flieth
fluttereth with her wings in the nest: the child creepeth before he goeth: so
religion begins with affection, and devotion proceedeth from desire. A man must
first love that he would be, before he can be that which he loveth. It is a good
sign when a man affecteth that which he expects, and doth favour that which he
would more fully favour. He that loveth Sion shall prosper: he that loveth
virtue shall increase and prosper in it. The day of small things shall not be
despised (Zec 4:10), neither shall the smoking flax be quenched (Mt 12:20); but
the smoke shall bring forth fire, and fire shall break forth into a flame.
Andrew Willett (1562-1621), in "Certaine Fruitfull Meditations
upon the 122. Psalme."
Verse 6. They shall prosper that love thee. The reverse is
also true. "None ever took a stone out of the Temple, but the dust did fly into
his eyes." Jewish Proverb.
Verses 6-9. In this cordial and even impassioned invocation,
it is curious to find one of those puns, or plays on words, which are
characteristic of Hebrew poetry. The leading words of the strophe are
"peace" and "prosperity." Now the Hebrew word for "peace"
is shalom, and the Hebrew word for "prosperity" is shalvah,
while the Hebrew form of "Jerusalem, "which means "City of Peace, "is
Yeru-shalaim. So that, in effect, the poet wishes shalom and
shalvah on shalaim --"peace" and "prosperity" on "the City of
Peace." Such an use of words may not strike us as indicating any very subtle or
profound sense of humour, or any remarkable artistic skill. But we must always
remember that it is always difficult for one race to appreciate the humour, or
wit, of another race. We must also remember that this art of playing on words
and the sound of words--an art of which we are growing weary--was very novel and
surprising to men not surfeited with it as we are, and who were themselves for
the most part quite incapable of the simplest dexterities of speech. Samuel
Verse 7. Peace be within thy walls. The Church is a war
town, and a walled town, which is situated among enemies, and may not trust them
who are without, but must be upon its keeping, as the type thereof, Jerusalem,
with her walls and towers, did shadow forth. David Dickson.
Verse 7. Within thy walls. Or, To thy outward wall. Josephus
tells us (Book V.) that there were at Jerusalem three ranges or rows of walls.
The sense here is, Let no enemy approach so much as to thy out works to disturb
thee. Thomas Fenton.
Verse 8. For my brethren and companions' sakes. Because they
dwell there; or, because they go up there to worship; or, because they love
thee, and find their happiness in thee; or, because they are unconverted, and
all my hope of their salvation is to be derived from thee, --from the church,
from the influence of religion. Albert Barnes.
Verse 8. My brethren. On another occasion, an elderly
native, formerly a cannibal, addressing the Church members, said, "Brethren!"
and, pausing for a moment, continued, "Ah! that is a new name; we did not know
the true meaning of that word in our heathenism. It is the `Evangelia a Jesu'
that has taught us the meaning of `brethren.'" William Gill, in "Gems from
the Coral Islands, "1869.
Verse 9. Because of the house of the Lord. The city that was
the scene of so immense assemblies had necessarily a peculiar character of its
own. It existed for them, it lived by them. There were priests needed for the
conduct of the worship, twenty four courses of them and 20,000 men. There were
Levites, their servants, in immense numbers, needed to watch, maintain, clean
the temple--to do the menial and ministering work necessary to its elaborate
service and stupendous acts of worship. There were scribes needed for the
interpretation of the law, men skilled in the Scriptures and tradition, with
names like Gamaliel, so famed for wisdom as to draw young men like Saul from
distant Tarsus, or Apollos from rich Alexandria. There were synagogues, 480 of
them at least, where the rabbis read and the people heard the word which God had
in past times spoken unto the fathers by the prophets. The city was indeed in a
sense the religion of Israel, incorporated and localized, and the man who loved
the one turned daily his face toward the other, saying, "My soul longeth, yea,
even fainteth for the courts of Jahveh." A. M. Fairbairn, in "Studies in the
Life of Christ, "1881.
Verse 9. I will seek thy good. It is not a cold wish; it is
not a careless, loose seeking after it, that is the phrase in my text-- "I
will seek thy good." It is not a careless, loose seeking after it, almost as
indifferently as a woman seeks after a pin which she has dropped; no, no; effort
is implied. "I will seek"; I will throw my energies into it; my powers,
my faculties, my property, my time, my influence, my connections, my family, my
house, all that I have under my command shall, as far as I have power to
command, and as far as God gives me ability to turn them to such a use, be
employed in an effort to promote the interests of Zion. Joseph Irons,
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Whole Psalm. Observe,
1. The joy with which they were to go up to Jerusalem: Ps
2. The great esteem they were to have of Jerusalem: Ps 122:3-5.
3. The great concern they were to have for Jerusalem, and the
prayers they were to put up for its welfare. M. Henry.
1. David was glad to go to the house of the Lord. It was the
house of the Lord therefore he desired to go. He preferred it to his own house.
2. He was glad when others said to him, "Let us go." The
distance may be great, the weather may be rough, still, "Let us go."
3. He was glad to say it to others, "Let us go, "and to
persuade others to accompany him. G. R.
1. Joy in prospect of religious worship.
a) Because of the instruction we receive.
b) Because of the exercises in which we engage.
c) Because of the society in which we mingle.
d) Because of the sacred interests we promote.
2. Joy in the invitation to religious worship.
a) Because it shows others are interested in the service of
b) Because it shows their interest in us.
c) Because it furthers the interests of Zion. F.J.B.
Verse 1. Gladness of God's house. Are you "glad when, "etc.?
1. That I have a house of the Lord to which I may go.
2. That any feel enough interest in me to say, "Let us go, "
3. That I am able to go to God's house.
4. That I am disposed to go.
--J. G. Butler, in "The Preacher's Monthly, "1882.
Verse 1. I was glad, etc. So says,
1. The devout worshipper, who is glad to be invited to
God's earthly house. It is his home, his school, his hospital, his bank.
2. The adhesive Christian, who is glad to be invited to
God's spiritual house. Church is builded together, etc. There would he
find a settled rest. Has no sympathies with religious gipsies, or no church
3. The dying saint, who is glad to be invited to God's
heavenly house. Simeon--Stephen--Peter--Paul. W. J.
1. The duty of attending the services of God's house.
2. The duty of exciting one another to go.
3. The benefit of being thus excited. F.J.B.
Verse 2. Here is,
1. Personal attendance: "My feet shall stand," etc.
2. Personal security: "My feet shall stand."
3. Personal fellowship: "O Jerusalem." G. R.
Verse 2. The inside of the church. The honour, privilege,
joy, and fellowship of standing there.
1. A type of the New Jerusalem.
a) As chosen by God.
b) As founded upon a rock.
c) As taken from an enemy.
2. A type of its prosperity: "Builded as a city."
3. A type of its perfection: "Compact together." G. R.
Verse 3. The unity of the church.
1. Implied in all covenant dealings.
2. Suggested by all Scriptural metaphors.
3. Prayed for by our Lord.
4. Promoted by the gifts of the Spirit.
5. To be maintained by us all.
Verses 3-4. The united church the growing church.
1. The duty of public worship.
a) In one place: "Whither the tribes go up."
b) In one company, though of many tribes: "Whither the
tribes go up."
2. The design.
a) For instruction: "Unto the testimony of Israel."
b) For praise: "To give thanks unto the name of the Lord."
1. There are thrones of judgment in the sanctuary. Men are
a) By the law.
b) By their own consciences.
c) By the gospel.
2. There are thrones of grace: "Of the house of David."
a) Of David's Son in the hearts of his people.
b) Of his people in David's Son. G.R.
1. The prayer,
a) "For Jerusalem": not for ourselves merely, or for the world;
but for the church. For the babes in grace; for the young men, and for the
fathers. For the pastors, with the deacons and elders.
b) For the "peace" of Jerusalem. Inward peace and outward
2. The promise.
a) To whom given: "They that love thee."
b) The promise itself: "They shall prosper" -- individually and
1. Love to Jerusalem is the effect of true piety.
2. Prayer for Jerusalem is the effect of that love.
3. The peace of Jerusalem is the effect of that prayer; and,
4. The prosperity of Jerusalem is the effect of that peace.
Verse 6. God has connected giving and receiving, scattering
and increasing, sowing and reaping, praying and prospering.
1. What we must do if we would prosper--"Pray for the peace of
a) Comprehensively: "Peace" --spiritual, social, ecclesiastical,
b) Supremely: "Prefer Jerusalem above, "etc.
c) Practically: "Let peace rule in your hearts." "Seek peace
and pursue it."
2. What we shall gain if we pray thus--"Prosperity."
a) Temporal prosperity may thus come. God turned again the
captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends.
b) Spiritual prosperity shall thus come. Affairs of soul--holy
exercises and services.
c) Numerical prosperity will thus come. "Increased with men as
a flock." W. J.
1. The blessings desired for the church.
b) Prosperity. Notice the order and connection of these two.
2. The way to secure them.
a) Prayer: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem."
b) Delight in the service of God: "I was glad, "etc.
c) Practical effort: "I will seek thy good."
3. Reasons for seeking them.
a) For our own sake: "They shall prosper," etc.
b) For our companions' sake.
c) For the sake of the "house of the Lord." F. J. B.
1. Where peace is most desirable: "Within thy walls." Within
town walls, within house walls, but principally within temple walls.
2. Where prosperity is most desirable.
a) In the closet.
b) In the church. These are the palaces of the Great King; "The
ivory palaces whereby they have made thee glad." G. R.
Verse 7. The connection between peace and prosperity.
Verse 7. Thy walls.
1. Enquire why the church needs walls.
2. Enquire what are the walls of a church.
3. Enquire on which side of them we are.
Verse 7. The church a palace.
1. Intended for the great King.
2. Inhabited by the royal family.
3. Adorned with regal splendour.
4. Guarded by special power.
5. Known as the court of the blessed and only potentate.
Verses 8-9. Two great principles are here laid down why we
should pray for the church,
1. Love to the brethren: "For my brethren and companions'
2. Love to God: "Because of the house of the Lord our God I
will seek thy good." N. M`michael.
Verse 9. I will seek thy good.
1. By prayer for the church.
2. By service in the church.
3. By bringing others to attend.
4. By keeping the peace.
5. By living so as to commend religion.
WORKS UPON THE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-SECOND PSALM
In "Chandler's Life of David, "vol. 2. pp. 131-4, there
is an Exposition of this Psalm.
Ecclesia Triumphans: That is, the Joy of the English Church,
for the Happie Coronation of the most vertuous and pious Prince.
IAMES by the grace of God King of England, Scotland, France, and
Ireland. . . . With a briefe Exposition of the 122. Psalme, and fit application to the time... The second edition.
WILLETT.] Printed by IOHN LEGAT, Printer to the Vniuersitie of Cambridge, 1614.
Folio. This Exposition is generally to be found bound up with Willett's
"Harmonie vpon the First Booke of Samuel."