A SONG OF ASCENTS. OF DAVID.
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!” 2 Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem! 3 Jerusalem- built as a city that is bound firmly together, 4 to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD. 5 There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David. 6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you! 7 Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!” 8 For my brothers and companions’ sake I will say, “Peace be within you!” 9 For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good.
A few thoughts for meditation:
1) After a dangerous journey up the mountains, the pilgrim has finally arrived at the top, at the gates of his beloved Jerusalem and rejoices to finally be “home”. And the first thing he wants to see is “the house of the LORD”, the temple. That was place of God’s manifested presence in Israel, the place of reconciliation via the sacrifices, the place of connection with God. It was the centerpiece of the city of God from which all the other blessings flowed to God’s people. The second feature he rejoiced to see was the “thrones”. There David’s house ruled as God promised. There, God’s appointed king ruled and protected his people and ensured justice for all. Within those walls, they enjoyed spiritual unity and communion with God through the means God had appointed for them and witnessed in a visual way God’s promise unfolding, “I will be your God and you will be my people.” A third feature he rejoiced in was the combined gathering of “the tribes”. The tribes within Israel had distinct identities and histories, yet they were still one people of God enjoying the same promises and provisions of salvation. There was an appropriate diversity within their unity, and with every gathering the people could see the richness of God’s grace and the harmony it created among all kinds of people. The chief feature of this combined tribal worship was “giving thanks”. Gratitude under-girded all the worship activity, gratitude to God for saving them, gratitude for preserving them through trials, gratitude for providing a mediator, gratitude for the steadfast love of God despite their many sins and failures.
2) The song finished with a prayer for the peace of Jerusalem. That first day reunited with God’s people in God’s city before his house and throne, filled him with a desire to see that community cherished and protected forever. With peace “within” the walls, they can withstand any assault from the outside. This rich and diverse community created by God’s grace was a special phenomenon worth fighting for and preserving. So he finished the song by committing himself to work for the “good” of that city and people and to promote peace within it.
For the Christian today, this is what it should be like coming to public worship in the local congregation after a long week of hard work and trials. You gather with diverse people saved by God’s grace along with you, to spend time in the presence of your great Prophet, Priest, and King, the Lord Jesus. You come into the sphere of the Spirit’s most profound work, where God meets with his people and speaks to them through Word and Sacrament, and we respond with prayer and praise. We still experience that promise in a profound way, “I will be your God and you will be my people.” It is a beautiful thing that happens every Sunday, but too often we forget just how important it is because it has become too familiar to us. Hopefully, this time of isolation can help you see how important it is to gather with “your people” and work for their peace and good, looking forward to that time of permanent celebration and thanksgiving in heaven.