“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!”
Today we have five short Psalms to read and they are all called ‘A Song of Ascents’. Among the Jews these and the ten Psalms which follow are generally understood to be the songs that were sung as they went up to Jerusalem to worship in the Temple. In some cases they would be coming from distant lands – remember the man from Ethiopia that Philip was sent by the Spirit to meet? “He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning” (Acts 8:27). Also on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out, visitors from as far away as Rome (Acts 2:10) had come to Jerusalem for the feast.
Recall Isaiah’s vision! “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains … and many people shall come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD” (Isaiah 2:2,3). So what did the pilgrims going up to Jerusalem sing about? Do these Psalms foreshadow at all the future going up to Jerusalem? The first one (120) is, “In my distress I cried to the LORD and he answered me. Deliver me O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue” (verses 1,2).
This is the frame of mind among those who do not know God that those going up to Jerusalem leave behind! Psalm 121 states, “My help comes from the LORD who made heaven and earth … The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and for evermore” (verses 2,7,8). That will be true when Jesus returns and the kingdom is established.
Psalm 122 has familiar words to most of us, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May they be secure who love you! Peace be within your walls …” (verses 6,7).
Imagine the time to come “in the latter days”! But these surely are the latter days! How much longer before this Song of Ascents will have the fullest meaning and be sung by the redeemed with all their heart. “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore” (Psalm 125:1,2).