A Joyful Longing and Love for the City of God - Psalm 122

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In Psalm 121 we have the song of a traveler who is on his way to Jerusalem - the city of God. It’s a trip that has dangers and difficulties, but the traveler is confident in the help and keeping power of God.

While Psalm 122 wasn’t written as a follow up to Psalm 121, their arrangement in the Scriptures is telling a story. While Psalm 121 is about a traveler on his way to Jerusalem, Psalm 122 is about a person’s arrival in the city – a joyful arrival.

This Psalm is a song about the traveler’s joy and love for the city, but it’s about more than the city. The city represents the place where God is and where God is worshipped. The psalmist’s joy in coming to the city is coupled with his longing for the good of the city. Again, not necessarily because of the city itself, but because of who the city represents.

A Song for Us – Pilgrim’s on a journey to the City of God

It makes sense that this is a song that was sung by people as they went on their journeys to Jerusalem, but it is also a good song for us. We too are a people on our way to a city, and we should be full of joyful anticipation as we look forward to the day when we will gather in the eternal city of God.

The Pilgrim’s Heart for the City of God (122:1-2) 

  • A joyful anticipation (v. 1) – It’s clear the psalmist loves Jerusalem, and more specifically, he loves the God of Jerusalem. He has been full of joy ever since he set out for the city (Psalm 84:1–2, 8-10).
  • A glad arrival (v. 2) – After all the anticipation, the psalmist rejoices to finally be back in the city – standing within her gates. 
  • Application 
  • Our longing for the future city of God – Just as this pilgrim looked forward to his arrival in the city, we should be a people of joyful anticipation for the eternal city of God. We look to a day when we will be in the presence of God. (Heb. 11:10-16; 13:14)
  • Our participation in worship with the people of God - Each Sunday when we come together there should be a sense in which we get a small taste of what’s to come. As we gather for worship we are anticipating and rehearsing for our arrival in the city of God – and we should have joy as we come together.

The Pilgrim’s Description of the City of God (122:3-5)

  • A place of strength and unity (v. 3) – As the pilgrim describes the city we are reminded that it’s a place of refuge and a place where the people come together and find unity, comfort and safety.
  • A place of worship and thanksgiving (v. 4) – The people came to Jerusalem by the command of God – they came with their offerings and sacrifices to worship God and to give Him thanks.
  • A place of judgment and justice (v. 5) – Jerusalem was the place for worship, but it was also the city of the King – this was the place where judgments were made and justice was upheld.
  • Application 
  • The hope of the eternal city – Just as Jerusalem was a city of refuge, worship and justice, we look forward to the city of perfect refuge, worship and justice – the heavenly Jerusalem.
  • Our present participation with the people – As His people, with His Spirit inside of us – there should be a sense in which our coming together is a foretaste of the refuge, worship and justice we will experience in that future city (Hebrews 10:23-25).

The Pilgrim’s Prayer and Desire for the City of God (122:6-9)

  • A prayer for peace and security - As the psalmist thinks about Jerusalem – he prays for God’s peace and blessing, and he calls others to join him in prayer.
  • A prayer and desire for the sake of the people of God - This is more than a prayer for the city, it’s a prayer for the people of God. It’s a prayer for his family and friends. He’s praying that God would bless the nation and all those who are called His people.
  • A prayer and desire for the sake of the house of God – His prayer is also a prayer for the name and the glory of God.
  • Application - Pray and long for peace and security for the people of God
  • A prayer for the peace for the church today – This psalm should remind us to pray for the peace and blessing of God’s people today. 
  • A prayer of hope for the peace that is coming – This psalm should remind us of the hope we have of eternal peace and it should move us to pray for more and more people to know God’s peace through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord (Hebrews 12:22–29).