Zach G
Saved by grace. Follower of Jesus. Husband of a godly bride and dad of 4 cute kids.
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Psalm 122 - The People of God in the City of God
What does it look like for God's people to worship Him together? How does their worship transform the place where they live?
Published February 3rd, 2022
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Main Point Summary
Phrase - Ps. 122
Ps. 122 Sermon Notes
Main Point Summary
God's people are to be a holy community within the city--meeting as one to joyfully praise Him, speaking His truth, and seeking the good of the city where they live.
Phrase - Ps. 122
Psalms 122:1-9
A Corporate Invitation to a Physical Location
I was glad
when they said
to me,
“Let us go
to the house
of the Lord!”
Our feet have been standing
within your gates,
O Jerusalem!
A Unified City for God's People to Praise and Proclaim
Jerusalem— built
as a city
that is bound firmly together,
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.
There thrones ... were set,
for judgment
the thrones
of the house
of David.
A Prayer and a Promise for God's People and God's Glory
for the peace
of Jerusalem!
“May they be secure
who love you!
Peace be ... and security
within your walls
within your towers!”
For my brothers and companions’ sake
I will say,
“Peace be
within you!”
For the sake
of the house
of the Lord
our God,
I will seek your good.
Ps. 122 Sermon Notes
The People of God in the City of God Psalm 122 Are you a city person or a country person? Do you like life in the big city, with its museums and mega malls and metro ? Or do you prefer life outside of the city in the peace and quiet of rolling hills and flowing streams ? Do you prefer being in places with a lot of people or do you prefer to be alone? All of us have preferences based on our personalities and there’s nothing wrong about those preferences. Jesus spent time in the city and He spent time praying alone on a mountain and His desires were always 100% good. When we read the Bible , we might sometimes think that, because God put Adam and Eve in a garden , that being alone with God in a garden is the most spiritual place to be. It’s tempting to think that way, since it’s easy to feel closer to God when it’s just you and your tomato plants . Your tomato plants don’t argue with you. Your dog or cat doesn’t say harsh things to you. Everything seems right in the world when we’re alone in a garden . Except God never intended His people to remain in the garden alone. He told Adam and Eve to multiply , fill the earth, and subdue it. Even before sin came into the world, they were commanded to cultivate the land and to build culture . They were to explore and invent and create things with what God had given them. The problems we see in cities—crime, conflict, and poverty—are not signs that cities are bad . God loves cities because cities are full of people He made in His image. The problems we see in cities are due to the main problem in the world— sin . People have rebelled against God and so cities don’t always function the way they should. What we are going to read today is a song and a prayer for the people of God in the city of God. God’s plan is to redeem cities by bringing together a group of people who trust in Him to show the rest of the city who God is and how He intends people to live. God's people are to be a city within a city and a shining light in the darkness. The psalm we are going to read today is a psalm (or song) of ascents , meaning that OT worshippers would sing this song as they journeyed from their villages to Jerusalem to worship at the temple there. We’re going to look at 3 things in this passage that teach us about the people of God in the city of God: A Corporate Invitation to a Physical Location; A Unified City for God’s People to Praise Him and Proclaim His Truth; A Prayer and a Promise for God’s People and God’s Glory 1. A Corporate Invitation to a Physical Location (v1-2) a. Worship is a corporate experience i. A group of worshippers invited David to go and worship God ii. “they, us, our” iii. We live in an individualistic society (especially in the West) that values personal comforts, schedules, and freedoms. God’s people, however, are called to worship Him together. There is a spiritual dynamic that happens when we’re together that doesn’t happen when we worship God on our own. God’s design is for us to worship Him together. iv. David certainly worshipped God when he was alone (the psalms attest to that): David prayed to God, confessed his sins to God, and sang to God while he was alone. However, we see here and in many other places that corporate worship is vital in our lives. Our souls need to worship God with others. b. Corporate worship is meant to bring us joy V1 - “I was glad...” - happy, cheerful, to rejoice When these people came to David and invited him to worship God with them, he was happy about it. He looked forward to it. It made him glad . He knew that he was being invited to experience joy . Do you know that God wants us to be happy in Him? He wants us to be joyful in Him. One of the primary ways He does this is by bringing us together to worship Him with other believers. Sometimes we have this idea that we come to worship to make God happy . God doesn’t need us to make Him happy. He’s been joyful in Himself for eternity. He wants to make us happy in Him . We sometimes may not want to drive/ride the bus/take a taxi to get here. We sometimes may not want to be with other people. We may not feel like singing or sitting and listening to a message from God’s Word. We feel that way because we live in bodies that are still tempted by sin—we don’t always think or feel or act the way we should. People in heaven are the happiest people in the universe, and you don’t have to beg them to worship God. You don’t have to guilt them into worshipping God. They worship God because they are happy in Him. If we’re not motivated to worship God, it’s because we don’t understand what God is offering us. He wants us to be joyful in Him , and one of the ways He does that is by bringing us together so that we can remind one another of what He has done and how good He is. He knows how fickle our hearts can be and how easily we’re discouraged and tempted , and so He’s told us in His Word to gather every week to seek to be joyful in Him. Sometimes we wrongly think that worship in the OT was miserable (sacrifices, laws, etc.) 1. Lev. 23:40 – “ shall rejoice before the Lord your God...” 2. Deut. 12:7 - “And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice , you and your households...” vii. God has always wanted His people to be happy, but the way He makes them happy is by bringing them together to worship Him. It was after they gathered to worship Him and enjoy Him that they were ready to go back to work and back into the world. The same is true for us . Happiness doesn’t come in isolation. It comes by being with God’s people and worshipping Him together. c. Corporate worship happens at a specific time and place OT – Sabbaths, 6 festivals they would celebrate together in Jerusalem “Let us go to the house of the Lord” They had to leave where they were living and go to a specific place, the temple, to worship God. This wasn’t spontaneous. It was a planned time and place for God’s people to get together. Although we’re called to worship God with our lives , there is something about intentionally going somewhere specifically to worship God that is important for our souls. For these worshippers, that meant traveling to Jerusalem to worship God there. God doesn’t require us to go to the temple in Jerusalem (there isn’t one, it was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD) to worship Him. Why? Because in Jesus , He makes groups of believers His temple . Wherever people who have believed in Jesus and in His life, death, and resurrection are meeting together to worship Him, that’s where His temple is. The people themselves are a temple of the Holy Spirit . 1. 1 Cor. 3:16 – you (plural) are God’s temple 2. 1 Pet. 2:5 – you (plural) are a spiritual house vi. The structure we meet in is not important. Being with God’s people is important. We , collectively, are God’s temple . 2. A Unified City for God’s People to Praise Him and Proclaim His Truth (v3-5) a. V3 – they came to a city that was bound firmly together/firmly joined together/solidly united i. The word here for bound / joined together is the same word used to describe how the parts of the tabernacle—the curtains and poles and curtain rings—were bound together. ii. If you’ve ever been to or seen pictures of the Old City in Jerusalem , which is the historical center of the city, you notice how the homes are not set off by themselves with their own yards and fences . The homes are all joined together so that it’s difficult to tell where one begins and the other ends . The old city is very tightly compacted and you can easily get lost because it’s like a maze of small roads and walls. And all these homes were surrounded by a giant protective wall . iii. David , who built Jerusalem after he seized it from the Jebusites, is joyful about this architecture . Why? Because this architecture symbolizes a spiritual reality —that God’s people are spiritually joined together in Him . We are unique and yet we find our identity as His united people. iv. Just as the houses in Jerusalem were made stronger by being attached to other houses, so we’re made stronger when we’re joined to one another. In the same way that the walls of Jerusalem protected those who lived in it, so there is protection when we are living in unity with other believers. v. We’re not meant to live or worship alone . God made us to live in community with one another, to encourage and strengthen and protect one another. In ancient Israel, a house in the middle of a field was much easier to attack and destroy . It was much more susceptible to being damaged by storms . It was much less sturdy. Yet the houses in Jerusalem were strong and secure because they were connected to one another and surrounded by a protective wall . So it is with those in the church —they are made stronger by other believers and are spiritually protected by them. vi. Are you tempted to think that you can make it on your own? Are you tempted to think that you can be spiritually strong on your own? Are you tempted to think that you can defend yourself and that you don’t need any spiritual accountability? Brothers and sisters, God has given us the church for our own good—that we might be stronger and more secure together. b. This diverse group of people from the 12 tribes of Israel would gather to worship. How specifically did they worship? c. They thanked Him (v4) i. This is what worship is— thanking God for who He is, for what He has done, and for what He will do. ii. The word thank here means to confess or to throw . iii. When we gather we confess that God is good and that He does good. We gather each week to confess that God has revealed His goodness to us most of all through Jesus—through His life, death, and resurrection. iv. Again, we thank God not because He is needy , but because we are needy . We deeply need to have joy in Him, and the way we have joy in Him is by gathering confessing the things He has done and that He is good. d. They proclaimed His truth (v5) In David’s house (stands for David’s palace and the buildings for the administration of his kingdom) there were thrones . On these thrones sat not only David, but also those who had authority to issue judgments. Deut 17:8. - God told Israel that when they had a dispute in their villages that they could not resolve, they were to come to the king in Jerusalem to get a judgment about that dispute. We live in a different context , but there’s an important principle for us in this verse. Israel was a theocracy —it was a kingdom that was governed entirely by God’s law. For us , it’s a different situation. God has appointed presidents and kings and governors and mayors to regulate society, to punish evil and reward good. It’s not the church’s job to govern society . It’s their job, which is why we need to pray for our local and national leaders and respect them. However, spiritually speaking, the church does have authority . This is our authority: to proclaim that there is One who is above all people, Jesus, who sits on a throne higher than any throne, and who is ushering in a kingdom which will surpass all other kingdoms and which will last forever. We proclaim this truth and the teachings of Jesus to the world, calling them to submit to Him as a good and perfect King. We do not have power to judge , nor should we judge the world. However, we call people to repent and submit to Jesus , who will judge all people. We call people to believe in Jesus and to obey Jesus’ commands . We encourage one another to follow Jesus , and when one of us who claims to be a follower of Jesus strays from Him, we lovingly yet firmly call that person to repent and to turn back to Jesus. This is the authority Jesus has given us. 3. A Prayer and a Promise for God’s People and God’s Glory (v6-9) a. A Prayer - Pray for the peace of Jerusalem (v6) i. This is imperative. David is telling his readers and listeners that they should pray for God to bring peace to this city where they gather to worship God. ii. Shalom/Salaam - peace, completeness, wholeness, contentment. For the way things to be as God intended them to be. iii. Why? This is the mission God is on: to bring peace to all people. iv. This is why Jesus came to earth. Luke 2:14 - “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” v. Jesus came to make peace. Through His death and resurrection for our sins, He makes vertical peace between us and God and horizontal peace between one another for those who trust in Him. vi. We need to pray that that spiritual peace will come to our city. We need to pray that people will be reconciled to God and one another through faith in Jesus. Is this something we are praying for? Are we praying for God to bring peace to Almaty through Jesus? vii. We also need to pray that there would be practical peace . What does that mean? It means that we need to pray that things would go well in our city and that it would flourish . Every human being has needs —physical needs (food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education), security needs, relational needs (family and friends), esteem and self-realization needs (do what God made them to do). If basic needs are not being met, if there’s no food or water, if there’s not safety and security, then it’s harder for them to realize their spiritual needs. viii. 1 Tim. 2:1-5 - “...I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus...” 1. Paul says that we are to pray for our leaders because they can affect the peace and security of the place they oversee. We need to pray that God would give them wisdom to lead ion such a way that there is peace and security in our city and that we can live peaceful, quiet lives and have the freedom opportunity to share the good news of peace with God through Jesus Christ. ix. David says that he will pray for peace for the sake of his brothers (that is, those in his family and, more broadly, those of his ethnicity and those who share his faith) and he will pray for his companions , or his friends and neighbors . David wants everyone in his circle of influence to have peace with God. When we pray for peace in our city, we need to think about who we’re praying for. Cities are important because they’re filled with people. The lady at the fruit stand matters to God. The student at the university matters to God. The man at the tax office matters to God. The children on the playground matter to God. We want Almaty to experience the peace of God because we want our neighbor to have peace with God. b. A Promise – to seek the good of Jerusalem for the sake of God’s house (v9) David worked for the good of Jerusalem not just so it would be an amazing city. There are a lot of cities that have great roads and beautiful buildings and great healthcare and amazing malls and fun things to do. Yet they’re spiritually dead . The people in these amazing don’t have peace with God and they don’t have peace with one another because they don’t know Jesus. David worked for the good of Jerusalem because God’s house was there. That is, he wanted the knowledge and glory of God to shine from Jerusalem to the surrounding nations . He wanted the surrounding nations to know that the God of the universe had made Himself known to the people in Jerusalem and that these nations could know Him as well. The God of Jerusalem could be their God as well. Acts 1:8 – Jesus says that the center of God’s Kingdom will no longer be Jerusalem . “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Now, God’s kingdom is global . Wherever God’s people are gathered in the name of Jesus, there His Kingdom is. In Bangkok , in Sao Paulo , in Toronto , in Mumbai , in Dubai , in Frankfurt , in Nairobi , in Almaty . In cities big and small , where God’s people are, there His kingdom is. God calls us to be good citizens of our city and to seek its good. Not just so it can be a great city, but so that people can hear about and hope in the eternal city that God is preparing for those who trust in Him. Jer. 29:4-7 - “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” 1. God’s people were no longer in Jerusalem. They were in the capital city of their enemies who had captured them. Yet, God told them to pray for their city and to work for its good . If the city flourished, they would benefit from it. 2. How can we use what God has given us to be a blessing to our city? How can we use the resources and knowledge God has given us to give back to our city and to do good to it? ii. We want to do good for our city so that people can have hope in the eternal city that God is preparing for those who trust in Jesus . This city has no crime. No illness. No death. No pain. No pollution. It’s perfect in every way. It’s the home all of us long for and hope for becaue God Himself is in it. vi. We want to work for the good of our city so that people can live in that city . We want to give people a preview of the good life to come by showing them the love of God through our relationships and our actions. Let us continue to do so. vii. Rev. 21:1-4 - “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Brothers and sisters , let’s remember that God has called us to worship Him together for our own good and for our own joy . He’s called us to be unified , because when we are spending time with one another, encouraging one another, helping one another, and worshipping with one another, we are stronger and are better protected from Satan’s attacks . He’s called us to be together regularly to remind one another of His goodness —all He’s done and will do—and to proclaim His truth to one another and to the world. Lastly, He’s called us to pray for our city and to do good in our city , so that people might hope in the One who is preparing an eternal city for those who trust in Him.
Brent Karding
You did well in points 1-2 of the sermon to point people to the spiritual reality behind the OT text - the church being the temple today, for example, and worshipping God corporately as the church.

But in the third point, you make "Jerusalem" stand for the city in which we live. But biblically, Jerusalem represents the place of worship, the place God chose for his name, which was fulfilled in Jesus Christ (John 4), the church in Christ. So according to biblical theology, the prayer of verse 9 doesn't find its fulfillment in an NT Christian praying for his city, but praying for the people of God, seeking the good of God's people. There is a truth about seeking the good of one's city from Jeremiah (I can't remember the reference), but that's not what's being referred to here.
Zach G
This is very helpful and what I needed. Thank you for looking over it. Honestly, I struggled knowing what to do with physical Jerusalem (as you saw). I see now that it would have been more accurate and more helpful to talk about what you mentioned. I appreciate your feedback.
Brent Karding
You're welcome, Zach! You would enjoy the Interpretation course, I think; it would help you with biblical theology. Then Treasury would be a good follow-up, since it focuses even more on different areas of theology.
Brent Karding
I like how the main points of your outline flow from the text.
Brent Karding
Very good work throughout, in each of the first four passes.
Brent Karding
to give thanks
Excellent work here! The indentation of 4f was the first that I saw that was incorrect. This is indeed a Purpose phrase - the purpose of 4d ("as was decreed [so that Israel would] give thanks").
Zach G
I see that now. The purpose of the decree was to give thanks and not the purpose for Israel to give thanks.
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.