1 “To the LORD’s house!” they were calling, and with joy I went with them. 2 Now at last our feet are standing in your gates, Jerusalem.
3 See, Jerus’lem, like a city built compactly, close and strong. 4 That is where the tribes assemble, tribes which to the LORD belong.
To the LORD’s name praise they offer, as for Israèl decreed. 5 There are set the thrones for judgment, thrones of David’s royal seed.
6 Pray for Zion’s peace and safety: “May your friends securely dwell; 7 Peace within your walls continue, strength within your citadel.”
8 For the sake of friends and brothers, “Peace be in you,” I will say. 9 For the sake of our God’s temple, I seek your prosperity.
You can hear a Free Church of Scotland congregation to sing this to the lively tune Marching here
I was glad*, the Psalmist sings, setting out for Jerusalem. I was glad, the Psalmist sings, arriving in the holy city. I was glad, the Psalmist sings, resting in a place of security. I was glad, the Psalmist sings, praying for peace and well-being for the house of God.
Today, across the nations, people will gladly set out for sacred or spiritual places, Today, across the nations, people will arrive, gathering in chapel, church and around civic memorial. Today, across the nations, people will remember the cost of war and sacrifices made, confess the failure of nations to live in harmony, and give thanks where they experience security. Today, across the nations, people will pray for peace and well-being, wherever God dwells.
Psalm 122 celebrates the age-old practice of pilgrimage. Setting out, motivated by faith or spiritual yearning, arriving in a sacred place, encountering a sense of divine, and returning, with new resolve in heart.
Focusing on Jerusalem, a name which may mean city of shalom, or city of peace, Psalm 122 is as relevant for today as when first sung. For Jerusalem is one of the most fought over and disputed places on earth. Being an abode of peace remains a seemingly-distant hope, that still needs peace-praying, peace-shaping, peace-making and peace-keeping.
Today, as people like you and me, return from a sacred or spiritual place, mindful of fractures between and within nations, we may sense God’s calling to pray and work for peace and well-being,
in Jerusalem, in your nation and my nation, in your hometown and my hometown.
In living out the Psalm, we may make God glad too.
*I was glad, are the opening words of Psalm 122 in several translations and were embraced by Hubert Parry in his well-known anthem of the same name which you can hear here.
Pilgrim Peace Prayer (in Haiku form)
Setting out today, may I pray peace and make peace, and do so gladly.
The Revd Dr David Pickering, Moderator National Synod of Scotland, member Rutherglen URC.
Sing Psalms! (C) The Psalmody Committee of the Free Church of Scotland