SONGS OF ASCENT
Psalms 120 through 134 are called the Psalms of degree, or the songs of ascent. This means that they are the Psalms of ascension, the Psalms of going up. Thus we have the word in Psalm 122:4, “Whither the tribes go up.” In all these Psalms the house and the city of God are the center.
Let us begin with Psalm 122. I cannot express how much I love this Psalm. “I rejoiced when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord” (v. 1). This verse obviously refers to the house. But verse 2 continues by saying, “Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.” This then is the city. The Psalm opens with the house, but then proceeds immediately to the city. To enter into the house of the Lord is an exceedingly joyful experience; we may well rejoice. And how good it is to stand within the gates of Jerusalem! Oh, the house and the city! The saints love the city and are glad to go into the house.
We do not have such a Psalm as Psalm 122 in Book II. We do have Psalms 46 and 48 in Book II; they are climactic Psalms concerning the city. But those Psalms are not so sweet as this one. How sweet Psalm 122 is! I enjoy it immensely.
Verse 3 continues: “Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together.” How marvelous! Jerusalem is solidly built; far from being loose, it is compacted together—solid, firm and safe. This is the city of God. Then verse 4: “Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord.” This verse speaks of the ascent of the Israelites unto Jerusalem. Jerusalem was built upon Mount Zion, at least three thousand feet above sea level. Therefore, whenever the people journeyed to Jerusalem, they must go up. And while they were going up, they sang this Psalm.
Verses 5 and 6: “For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.” It is so clear: whoever loves Jerusalem will prosper. Remember that this is poetry, and we must understand it in a poetic way. Whoever loves the Lord’s church as a city will prosper.
Verse 7: “Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.” The local churches are the palaces. Peace is within their walls for safety, and prosperity is within these palaces for enjoyment. The peace is for safety, and the prosperity is for enjoyment. The peace is within the walls, and the prosperity is within the palaces, and both are within the local churches.
Verses 8 and 9: “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.” Why did the Psalmist love the city? Because the house is there. Because of the house he seeks the good of the city. Now we have the city with the house, and the house with the city. Praise the Lord, this is the church life.
Now let us come to Psalm 125. “They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever” (v. 1). Zion is immovable; it abides for ever. Then what about Jerusalem? “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth even for ever.” Zion is safe, and Jerusalem is surrounded by mountains, which means that it is surrounded by God. What more can we say concerning the house and the city in Book V, since so many aspects have already been covered in Book I, Book II, III, and IV? The Psalmist adds this further aspect—Zion is safe, and Jerusalem is surrounded by God. This is the city for the house; this is the church. This is God’s house, where we enjoy the presence of God; and this is God’s city, where we have the dominion of God. Praise Him!
(Christ and the Church Revealed and Typified in the Psalms, Chapter 20, by Witness Lee)