The Pilgrim’s Greeting to the Holy City
1 A song of ascents. Of David.
[b]I rejoiced when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
2 And finally our feet are standing
at your gates, O Jerusalem.
3 Jerusalem is built as a city
that is firmly bound together[c] in unity.
4 There the tribes go up,
the tribes of the Lord,
as it was decreed for Israel
to celebrate the name of the Lord.[d]
5 For there the thrones of judgment[e] were established,
the thrones of the house of David.
6 Pray for the peace[f] of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you rest secure.
7 May there be peace within your walls
and security in your palaces.”
8 [g]Out of love for my relatives and friends,
I will say, “May peace be within you.”
9 Out of love for the house of the Lord, our God,
I will pray for your well-being.
- Psalm 122:1 The pilgrims arrive where they can see Jerusalem, and their faces light up with joy, a joy that formed part of the Messianic hope. They come to a halt to admire the holy city restored by Nehemiah, and their remembrances sing in their heart: those of the gathering of the tribes at the Tent of Meeting (see Num 2:2) and of the happy era when David and Solomon ruled in their capital. The latter appeared to them as the symbol of unity and peace—“Shalom” signifies peace. In their desire for happiness, they already dream of the gathering together at some future time (see Isa 33:20; Zec 9:9ff).
One day Paul will speak of Christ present in his Church to reestablish the links of the human family (see Eph 2:19-22), and the visionary of Patmos will celebrate the definitively rediscovered unity in his marvelous description of a heavenly Jerusalem (see Rev 21:2—22:5). Hence, in praying this psalm, we as Christians must go beyond the original sense since we find ourselves drawn along by Christ in a spiritual pilgrimage that causes us to leave the world and enter ever further into the Church. It ultimately leads us from earth to heaven, the heavenly Jerusalem.
- Psalm 122:1 The trials of an expatriate (see Ps 120) and the hazards of travel (see Ps 121) are overshadowed now by the joy that had drawn the pilgrim to his journey. The doxology in Jude 24 is the Christian equivalent of this progress and arrival: “To him who is able to keep you from falling [see Ps 121] and to bring you safely to his glorious presence, unblemished and rejoicing [see Ps 122].” The house of the Lord: the temple (see 2 Sam 7:5, 13; 1 Ki 5:2, 4).
- Psalm 122:3 That is firmly bound together: Jerusalem is the symbol of the unity of the chosen people and the figure of the unity of the Church (see Eph 2:20ff). Some versions have translated this as: “where its community is one.”
- Psalm 122:4 This verse presupposes the Deuteronomic law concerning unity of sanctuary (see Deut 12; 16:16; 1 Ki 12:27). To celebrate the name of the Lord: because of God’s saving acts and blessings for his people.
- Psalm 122:5 Jerusalem was both the religious center, symbolized by the “house of the Lord” (v. 1), and the political center, symbolized by the thrones of judgment. The kings of Judah ruled by God’s will and upheld his kingship to the extent that they dispensed justice, which was a feature of the Messianic Age (see Isa 9:7; 11:3-5).
- Psalm 122:6 Peace: the customary greeting in Hebrew, shalom, which also includes the idea of happiness and prosperity.
- Psalm 122:8 Jerusalem is transferred into an ideal, an eschatological expression of what God had planned for his people, and the psalmist prays for the fulfillment of God’s plan. What Jerusalem was to the Israelite, the Church is to the Christian.