Jerusalem is a well-built city; its seamless walls cannot be breached. All the tribes of Israel—the Lord’s people—make their pilgrimage here. They come to give thanks to the name of the Lord, as the law requires of Israel. Here stand the thrones where judgment is given, the thrones of the dynasty of David (122:3-5 NLT).
These words are part of a song for celebration in worship for old covenant believers, which new covenant believers may learn from. All Scripture is profitable and teaches us. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV). These words about old covenant worship can provide us with wisdom about the attitude or mind-set of worship, although our form is different from theirs. Therefore, first let us enter into their experience, as David directed as God’s prophet-king.
David teaches the people to admire the city that God have given to admire the city that God had given to his people. Old covenant worship very much involved a physical place: a chosen city where the temple would be built and the glory of God would fill the temple (Deuteronomy 12:8-14). In God’s purposes (Deuteronomy 7:22; Judges 2:20-23), he did not give Jerusalem to Israel at the time of the conquest of the land under Joshua. The Lord enabled David to conquer the city (2 Samuel 5:6-10) that the Jebusites had continued to hold for four hundred years! It was fitting that David should call his people to marvel at what God had done for them. David built up the city and made it stronger. It would not fall to an enemy for about five hundred year, and only then after Israel had turned from the Lord and true worship of him.
In this song, David develops the theme of unity. He sang about the unity of the physical city. God used David to make the necessary repairs and improvements and it was firmly bound together (122:3 ESV). It later withstood the attacks of the mighty Assyrian army, when most of the rest of the land had been conquered. From that idea, he went on to sing about the unity of the people. This happened after David had become king of all the tribes (2 Samuel 5:1-5). Then he was able to gather all the people to bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). After they had a central place of unity and worship, David was able to restore the worship of the Lord in Israel. He made plans to build the temple, and he led the people to assemble to Jerusalem for the three required festivals.
Second, what can we learn from this as new covenant worshipers? We are to be a unified people. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:3-6 NIV). Over many hundreds of years, Christians have separated into many groups of churches (called denominations, conventions, fellowships, associations, and networks). When churches work together for common spiritual goals, there is really no problem about joining together in such groups—as long as they do not become divisive. Even the New Testament recognized that there are various ways of serving God (1 Corinthians 12:5). But the Lord taught his people not to be divisive (Luke 9:49-50). Every believer is bound to each other in Christ. We might differ in our understanding of the Scriptures (though there is only one right view of every text). We might have different opinions about church form and government, the ordinances (baptism and the Lord’s Supper), prophetic schemes, etc. But if we are in Christ, we are truly one with another. For this reason, we must keep the unity of the Spirit.
This requires us to see what is most important: the Lord, the gospel, and the Word of God. We must reform our views according to the truth, though that reformation will cost us our traditions, heritage, and personal preferences. It demands humility and accepting others. It happens as we speak the truth in love. Brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, now is the time to reach out to other believers. Let us think more highly of what binds us together in the Lord than old ways that we were born into or gradually adopted as our own. Since we are spiritual children of Abraham, let us remember what our destiny is together. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10 CSB).
Grace and peace,