The Joy of Sharing in True Worship
SHARING with others in true worship is a source of unspeakable joy for devoted servants of the Most High. The intensity of their feeling is reflected in Psalm 122, the opening words of which read: “I rejoiced when they were saying to me: ‘To the house of Jehovah let us go.’” (Ps 122 Vs. 1) Just the thought of going to Jehovah’s sanctuary engendered within the psalmist feelings of joy and peace.
The superscription attributes Psalm 122 sup to David. The Septuagint Version, however, omits the words “of David.” This and certain words used in this psalm have led numerous scholars to conclude that it was written by someone other than David. Nevertheless, Psalm 122 can be understood without difficulty if we accept the superscription appearing in the Hebrew text.
God-fearing David found great delight in going up to Jehovah’s house for worship. The extent of his joy is clear from what he did when the sacred ark was transferred to Mount Zion. The Bible tells us: “David was dancing around before Jehovah with all his power.” He and “all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of Jehovah with joyful shouting.”—2 Sam. 6:14, 15.
From what follows, though, Psalm 122 doubtless was designed to express the sentiments of any worshiper going up to Jehovah’s sanctuary. We read: “Our feet proved to be standing within your gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem is one that is built like a city that has been joined together in oneness, to which the tribes have gone up, the tribes of Jah, as a reminder to Israel to give thanks to the name of Jehovah.” (Ps. 122:2-4) Thus, this psalm represents the worshipers as coming from outside Jerusalem, then pausing immediately after entering through the gates to view the city. What greets their eyes? Jerusalem is a city “joined together in oneness.” Houses were built close together, as if ‘joined in oneness.’ This was the usual arrangement for a city in ancient times. Compact and surrounded by strong fortifications, such a city was easier to defend than a large, sprawled-out metropolis would have been. The city’s defenders did not have to cover an extensive area, leaving certain parts vulnerable to enemy attack. Furthermore, Jerusalem was surrounded by mountains and steep valleys on the east, south and west, greatly limiting the space available for building. Since the city’s inhabitants were living close together and depended upon one another for help and protection, the physical closeness could well represent the spiritual unity of the whole nation when all the tribes of Israel assembled for worship. Their giving “thanks to the name of Jehovah” meant their thanking the Most High, the One represented by the name.
Not only was Jerusalem the center of true worship but the city also was the seat of government. The psalmist continues: “For there the thrones for judgment have been sitting, thrones for the house of David.” (Ps. 122:5) As the capital, Jerusalem was the place for final judgments. King David occupied the position of judge and so did others of his house. The Bible reports: “As for the sons of David, they became priests.” (2 Sam. 8:18) Their being called “priests” signifies that they were ministers of state or officials and, in this capacity, must have rendered judgments.
In view of the importance of Jerusalem, the psalmist continues: “Ask, O you people, for the peace of Jerusalem. Those loving you, O city, will be free from care. May peace continue within your rampart, freedom from care within your dwelling towers.” (Ps. 122:6, 7) It would be most appropriate for the Israelites to pray for the peace or welfare of Jerusalem as the capital of the nation and the center of worship. Love for the city because of what it was would be in harmony with God’s will. Therefore, all lovers of the city, that is, all lovers of true worship and justice, could rest assured of divine favor and would enjoy security, ‘freedom from care’ or anxiety. The prayerful expression of the psalmist is that within the rampart or fortifications of Jerusalem there would be peace, that the welfare of the city be secure. This security would include the dwelling towers or the fortified royal residences.
Especially because the city was a center for the worship of Jehovah, its enjoyment of peace was in the best interests of the nation. So, by praying for the peace of Jerusalem, an Israelite was seeking the interests of fellow Israelites. This is made clear in the following words of Psalm 122: “For the sake of my brothers and my companions I will now speak: ‘May there be peace within you.’ For the sake of the house of Jehovah our God I will keep seeking good for you.”—Ps 122 Vss. 8, 9.
Today true worship is no longer associated with a specific city or a particular geographical location. Jesus Christ told a Samaritan woman: “The hour is coming when neither in this mountain [Gerizim] nor in Jerusalem will you people worship the Father. . . . Nevertheless, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for, indeed, the Father is looking for suchlike ones to worship him.”—John 4:21-23.
So, instead of praying for a particular place, God’s servants rightly pray for one another and for the peace of the Christian congregation as a whole, which today elevates true worship before others. When it comes to the meetings of this congregation, are your sentiments like those of the psalmist? Do you rejoice to be with others of like precious faith? Are you just as concerned about the welfare of the congregation as the psalmist was with the peace of Jerusalem? If this is the case, you are living in harmony with the spirit of Psalm 122.