Today, we will be continuing our study in “Making the Journey: Singing Along the Road Towards God”. This is week 2 of our journey toward God using these special psalms that were used as worship songs as they made their way to Jerusalem for the Feasts required by the Old Testament law. These songs were ways for them to draw close to the Lord – and learn new ways to offer up praise toward God.
The Long Distance
‘I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
Our feet are standing in your gates,
Jerusalem (Psalms 122:1-2, TNIV).’
The Israelites journeyed a long distance to reach the house of the Lord, and all they are met with is – shear joy. Going to the house of the Lord should bring cheer to us. The original word for “glad” is ́âmach – which means to “cheer up”.
When we worship God, we are brought to this place where whatever is plaguing us, is put to the side. It doesn’t mean that those things aren’t of great importance, but when we worship God in His true nature (recognizing God’s character) – He is given the proper place in our lives. Thus, we are energized with joy. God given joy.
This Psalmist’s Word
This word, ́âmach, appears in the Psalms 52 times. Meaning, a psalmist felt strongly compelled to write of the God-given joy a number of times. It wasn’t a once or twice experience, but a continual theme of what we can expect to gain in our time with the Lord. But, this gift isn’t reserved solely for Israelites. They aren’t alone, because God provides joy to all those who seek.
Join the Search: For God’s Joy
How are you finding yourself seeking joy today? Where have you turned – in order to find such joy? Have you found it? How can that joy compare to the joy found in the Lord?
The Joy of the Lord
(and the Story Behind This Famous Verse)
Nehemiah discusses the importance of this, when he said – “The joy of the Lord is my strength (see Neh. 8:10).” When His joy is what clothes our spirit. It is an indescribable experience. In the book of Nehemiah, Ezra, the teacher of the law, was instructed to bring out God’s Word – the books written by Moses containing the law. And, he did.
This congregation was excited to be in God’s Presence, as they assembled together and heard the Word of the Lord. As they are listening to the Word of the Lord, they are weeping throughout its reading. The Word of the Lord is read from daybreak to noon, and the whole time – there is just the unexplainable JOY for the Lord and His precious word. They knew what a gift it is to have the Lord. To be in this place together to worship God. They had reverence for God’s Word – opting to stand as it is being brought out to be read. They knew what a true gift this was.
The people listened attentively.
They knew the gift.
They had just returned to Jerusalem. The city’s walls have just been rebuilt. They had just gotten settled in their homes and towns. Now, was the BEST part of their return home. A home they probably didn’t know if they would ever see again. As they rebuilt their lives and towns, they saw God’s faithfulness. This is exactly why they could CHERISH the Word of God and the time spent together as an assembly of God-fearing people. (Click here to read Nehemiah 7-8 over at Bible Gateway where you can pore over this Scripture with their fantastic resources!)
Discovering His Joy
I don’t know about you, but I can honestly say I need this! I need the joy of the Lord to be present in my life. I need to quit being discouraged by anything and almost everything, and remember who my God is – and what all He has brought me through.
The joy of the Lord needs to become my strength.
On good days and bad, God is our strength… if we will allow Him to be.
How are you reaching out for the Lord, to be your place of joy?
Back to the Psalm
In Psalm 122, as the psalmist is flooded with joy, he is not off being a lone ranger believer in God. He is with his beloved. His brethren. His companions. They came over to the psalmist and called to him – “hey, let’s go to the house of the Lord.”
According to the Clarke Commentary, one thing led them to finally return to Jerusalem and to complete the God-given directive to worship in Jerusalem.
“When Cyrus published an edict for their return, the very first object of their thanksgiving was the kindness of God in permitting them to return to his ordinances.”
Not only are they being called back to Jerusalem, they are praying for peace over Jerusalem. Even though there are different emotions arising from this trip, it is marked with excitement.
Psalm 122 – In My Life
How is excitement for God, His Word, and His Church characterizing your life?
I want my life to be fueled by excitement from being in my God’s Presence. I want to be able to say – “I rejoice when I get to go to the Lord’s house and be with His people.” I want that to be true of my life.
Our Own Worship Song of Praise
I was glad because they said to me. We will go into the house of the Lord.
At last our feet were inside your doors, Lord.
The Church is like a town that is joined well together…
Bring peace to Your Church, Lord.
Allow us to be centered around Your will.
Make us with Your peace.
Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will working for your good.