Psalm 122:1-9 (ESV)

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.

Psalms 120 – 134 are entitled “Song of Ascents” because they were sung by pilgrims going to Jerusalem for the festivals that required being in Jerusalem, particularly Passover and Day of Atonement. These are songs that we as New Testament believers can sing without hesitation, but we need to remember that our context is a little different. Old Testament worship looked forward to a better sacrifice than the ones that the people were able to offer, a better priesthood than the ones who laboured in their work and a complete fulfilment of the promises made to Israel.

The Book of Hebrews tells us that the faithful saints of the Old Covenant were looking forward to the promise that was to come (Hebrews 11:10, 16, 24-26, 39-40). All of those things are fulfilled by Jesus Christ. New Testament saints look back, not forward, to the perfect sacrifice for sin having been accomplished by Jesus. They have a perfect High Priest who lives forever to intercede for them – Jesus Christ. All the promises of the covenant of God are fulfilled in Him and by Him.

New Testament saints look at the Old Testament Scriptures through the lens of the New. We have a better understanding than those who lived pre-Christ. We have the New Testament Scriptures to show us how Jesus is the fulfilment of everything the Old talks about. There is nothing in the Old Testament that we should not read through the grid of the New and through the grid of Jesus Christ Himself. We are the covenant people of Israel (Romans 9:6-8), the children of Abraham (Galatians 3:7), spiritual Jews (Romans 2:28-29). Old Testament texts such as the one before us have great meaning for us as Christians.

Verse 1 of this Psalm says that we are glad to enter the house of the Lord. There is no temple anymore other than the temple of the people of God. The church, the redeemed of God are the temple of God. Therefore, when we read this Psalm we should not think of a building that we rejoice to go into. We rejoice that we can meet with the people of God. We rejoice that we can be in His spiritual house to worship Him. This Psalm is about the church of Jesus Christ even more than it was about the temple in Jerusalem.

The great works of the Gospel were planned by God before the world began. He put them in a Book in both the Old and New Testaments. What a gift it is to be able to read the Old Testament and find the Gospel, the Saviour and salvation by Him in all of the Scriptures.

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