I was glad when they said to me: Let us go to the house of the Lord! (Psalm 122:1-9)
Psalm 122 is a part of the Songs of Ascents, which is a collection of psalms (Psalms 120-134) sung by pilgrims as they ascended to Jerusalem for the three major Jewish festivals. Psalm 122, attributed to David, expresses joy and reverence for Jerusalem as a place of worship and divine presence.
The psalmist begins by expressing joy when called to go to the house of the Lord, signifying eagerness and delight in worship. The initial verse employs the Hebrew term שָׂמַח [samach], meaning "to rejoice" or "be glad," capturing the psalmist's joy at the prospect of worship in Jerusalem. Upon arriving, they stand within Jerusalem's gates, which is a moment of fulfillment and reverence.
Jerusalem is described as a city compactly built together, symbolizing unity and strength. It is a place where tribes go up, as decreed, to praise the Lord's name according to the law of Israel. This highlights the centrality of Jerusalem in Jewish religious life. Here the divine presence is especially manifest, and people gather to fulfill religious duties. It symbolizes God's covenant with Israel, serving as a focal point for worship, justice, and communal unity.
The psalmist urges prayers for the peace and prosperity of Jerusalem, linking the city's welfare with the happiness of its people. The term שָׁלוֹם [shalom], meaning "peace," "wholeness," or "well-being," is a central theme. The psalmist's prayer for Jerusalem's peace reflects a deep yearning for divine blessing and protection over the city, linking its welfare to the well-being of the people.
The psalm concludes with a pledge of peace and prosperity for Jerusalem's sake, underscoring the speaker's devotion to the city not only as a political capital but as a spiritual home.