# 355 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 122. A coronation song.

Did you know that as King Charles III entered Westminster Abbey for his coronation on 6.5.23 that, the choir and choristers sang Sir Hubert Parry’s anthem, ‘I Was Glad’? This hymn being based on our psalm for today, Psalm 122, where we read in this third song of ascents:

I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go into the house of the Lord.”
Our feet have been standing
Within your gates, O Jerusalem! 

So far, in our first couple of the songs of ascents, we have seen the psalmist progress from living in a foreign land and longing to be on pilgrimage heading for Jerusalem (Psalm 20), to then drawing near to his destination and delighted to see the mountains of Zion in the distance (Psalm 21). But now, at last he has arrived and is excited to be at the very gates of Jerusalem anticipating entering the house of the Lord.

He describes the scene as follows:

Jerusalem is built like a city
    that is closely compacted together.
That is where the tribes go up—
    the tribes of the Lord—
     according to the statute given to Israel.
There stand the thrones for judgment,
    the thrones of the house of David.

Longman comments that the phrase used to describe Jerusalem, i.e., a city… closely compacted together, “might lead a modern reader to negative conclusions about urban congestion, [but] the context suggests that this is a positive description… the context suggests a positive association, a finely honed and functioning city.”

Then concerning verse 4 and the tribes of the Lord, he says: “the city [is] the place where the various tribes of Israel go to praise God. Jerusalem itself was the ‘City of David’, captured by David’s men and claimed in his name (2 Samuel 5:6-16). In other words, Jerusalem is not a part of any of the tribes of Israel, but it is the spiritual and political centre of a united Israel.” (# 30)

On verse 4b-5, Wilcock mentions that “God’s statute and judgement (laws)… are central to the city’s structure, or rather, fundamental to it. They expect God’s direction of his people, through the word of his appointed ruler, to be accepted. They expect his people’s response to him to be one of obedience and praise. That, his word tells us, is what Jerusalem is for.” (# 5)

And so, “This psalm is a hymn celebrating the city that hosts the special presence of God, as represented by the ‘house of God’, and ends with a prayer for its prosperity.” (# 30)

The psalmist says:

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
    “May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
    and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my family and friends,
    I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek your prosperity.

“Jerusalem is an important city for the spiritual, political and legal stability of the nation. Thus, its peace ensures the security of the nation as a whole… For this reason and others, prayer for its continued stability and prosperity is crucial…” (# 30)

Today, we don’t need to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem to experience “the special presence of God” and to worship God, but we do need to pray for our own cities and nations in the same way, remembering the words of Proverbs 14:34 Godliness makes a nation great, but sin is a disgrace to any people. (NLT)

Paul, writing to the young Timothy says:

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

Considering the lack of peace in many nations presently, how vital is it to take Paul’s advice seriously.

I guess, this is what the people of the UK are doing when they sing the prayer-words of their national anthem:

“God save our gracious King!
Long live our noble King!
God save the King!
Send him victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the King.”

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