Today we will consider three of the Songs of Ascents, which are the songs that travelers would sing as they approached Jerusalem for one of the annual feasts. We begin in Psalm 120. The Psalm starts with a cry out to God, with God anwering (120:1). His prayer is to be protected by the lies and slander of his enemies (v. 2). Verse 3-4 poetically describe the liar reaping what he sows. Liars are eventually found out and destroyed by their own lies. In verse 5, the Psalmist laments that he sojourns in Meshech and dwells in Kedar. What he is doing is comparing his fellow Israelites to pagans. Meshech is in modern day Turkey, and Kedar in modern day Saudi Arabia. In other words, though these enemies were Israelites, they were not God’s people. These are those who hate peace (v. 6) and who love war (v. 7). These are enemies of God and His people.
Psalm 121 picks up where Psalm 120 left off. Instead of seeking peace and truth among humanity, the Psalmist seeks it in God. When he seeks help, God the Creator is the only Helper (121:1-2). He will preserve His people without fail (vv. 3-4). He will protect His people without fail (vv. 5-6). He will direct the steps of His people (vv. 7-8).
Psalm 122 is a Psalm of David about seeking the presence of God. David speaks of his gladness in going to the house of the Lord for corporate worship (122:1). Being within the gates of Jerusalem is being where God chose for His presence to dwell. In verses 3-4, David asserts that Jerusalem is where God chose to be worshiped, and where He ultimately pointed when commanding that the men of Israel appear before Him for the feasts (Ex. 23:14-17). In verse 5, David points to the promise of the perpetual reign of his house, which is fulfilled in Christ. In praying for the peace of Jerusalem, all of Israel is in view, and further, all of God’s people (v. 6). He prays for peace where God dwells (v. 7). For the whole congregation, David prays for this peace (v. 8). David closes by praying for the sake of the house of the Lord.
Here is the question: what is the house of the Lord that David is referring to? Remember, the Temple was not built in David’s lifetime. And the Ark was in Jerusalem in the tent David built (1 Chr 15:1, 16:1), but the Tabernacle was in Gibeon at this time (1 Chr 16:39). I submit to you that David is speaking of the people of God as the “house” of the Lord, the place where He dwells. Verses 8 and 9 can be read as parallel, where David’s “brothers and companions” are compared with “the house of the Lord our God.” If we look at this Psalm as a prophetic Psalm, we see the church (the people, not a building) as Jerusalem (v. 2), held together by God (v. 3), the ultimate place of God’s presence (v. 4), where the greater Son of David reigns (v. 5). This would make David’s prayer all about the people of God in Christ!