Ascending to the House of God
In Psalm 122 the pilgrim turns his mind toward God’s house and the assembly of God’s saints around his throne (the mercy-seat), anticipating the prospect with gladness. In this psalm the beauty and glory of God’s church are typically set before us.
David sang, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.” It is no marvel to me to read those words. There the typical sacrifice of atonement was set forth. There the Word of God was expounded. There the glory of God was revealed. There the people of God met together. And there God met with his people. What a delight it was for David to go into the house of God! What a privilege he enjoyed!
Yet, David’s privilege could not be compared with ours. When David went up into the house of the Lord, he had all these things in type and ceremony. But now, in Christ Jesus, the very fulness of the eternal God is revealed to us.
As a believer, I have no greater joy in this world than to go into the house of God. There my family gathers. There my Redeemer reveals himself. There God speaks to my heart. There my soul is fed and refreshed. There I find strength and encouragement, both in the preaching of the gospel and in the fellowship of God’s saints. When someone says to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord,” it gives me joy. I am glad to go!
It is beyond, the stretch of my imagination to understand how a redeemed sinner can be satisfied to neglect such a privilege. Indeed, the first sign of an apostate heart appears to be the neglect of public worship (Heb. 10:23-26). Pastor Henry Mahan wrote, “I was glad that I had a desire to go, that I had the strength to go, that I understood the words spoken there, that I loved the people assembled there, that I, the chief of sinners, should be permitted to come into his presence.”
“Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.” What blessedness we find in the assembly of God’s saints! Therefore we make it our determination to gather with them in the place of public worship. There we join in common prayer and praise. There we hear the glorious gospel of Christ. As we gather with God’s saints below, our hearts are lifted in anticipation of that day when we shall enter the New Jerusalem and, seeing our Savior face to face, join in the everlasting Hallelujahs.
“Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together.” Built by Christ, built upon Christ, the Foundation and Chief Corner Stone, God’s saints are living stones in his house, joined together, “an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Nothing can exceed the magnificence of the true Jerusalem, the Church and City of God, upon earth. As John describes her in his visions of her everlasting perfection and glory, our hearts rejoice to know that every passing day brings us nearer the gates of the City Beautiful.
“Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord.” All God’s elect, all the tribes of the Israel of God, called the 144,000 in Revelation 7:4-9, are going up to Jerusalem which is above. God’s elect shall be gathered from the four corners of the earth, and all shall go up to Glory. Not one shall be absent. And all around the world, as redeemed sinners go up to the house of worship, we ought to go up thinking to ourselves, “Soon, we shall gather to worship our Savior in perfection, never more to part.”
When we come into the house of God, believing sinners assembly around “the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord.” We gather in the name of Christ and gather unto Christ, the true Ark of the Covenant, the true Mercy-seat, where the Lord God promised he would meet us in mercy (Ex. 25:22). Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Testimony of Israel, the Word of God, in and by whom God reveals himself. He is the Ensign, the Banner, around whom the people gather.
“For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David.” Here the church is called “the house of David” because king David was typical of Christ our King. By the Gospel of God proclaimed in his house and sent forth into all the world from his house, our great King judges the world.
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” Let every ransomed soul earnestly and without ceasing pray that God’s rich blessings of grace may constantly descend upon his church. Let none dare seek in any way to disrupt the sweet fellowship of God’s saints. Let none dare attempt to divide God’s church. “If any man defile (corrupt, divide, or destroy) the temple of God, him shall God destroy” (1 Cor. 3:17). Let us ever desire and promote peace in the family of God. Suspicion, strife, and division are deadly things. Let them not be found in the palace of the Prince of Peace.
“They shall prosper that love thee.” Spurgeon wrote, “Prosperity of soul is enjoyed by those who take a deep interest in the church and cause of God.” We find abundant recompense for all that we do in promoting the interests of Zion. Yet, the word “prosper” really means to be quiet, secure, tranquil and at rest. It speaks of one who enjoys quiet prosperity. Those who love God’s church, Christ her King and God’s people, the citizens of Jerusalem, those who love the law of the Lord, the gospel that is sent forth from her, shall have peace.
“Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.” Let no enemy come near, let alone enter the house of God. Let it be our earnest prayer that every palace of our Savior, every true gospel church, be kept in the blessed prosperity of quietness and tranquil security.
“For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek thy good.” Here are two great motives for such prayers: (1.) God’s saints are our brethren. They are our companions in Christ. (2.) God’s church is his house. These things ought to swell our hearts. For the good of our brethren, our companions, and for the glory of our God, let us ever seek the good of God’s church in this world.