We are instructed to pray for the peace of our Jerusalem today. And yet, we also look for the heavenly Jerusalem still to come. For we are still pilgrims. We have not yet fully arrived, and our eyes are fixed not even on the church, as wonderful as it can be, but on the heavenly “city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). 

Jerusalem means “habitation of peace.” But no habitation has ever been less peaceful, and it remains in turmoil today. Which makes us think of the church. The church of Jesus Christ is for us what Jerusalem was for ancient Israel, and it is a tremendous step beyond it, as the author of Hebrews points out to the Jewish believers of his day. The ancient city with its temple and temple worship was a wonderful gift of God to be highly valued and loved. But something much better has come by the work of Jesus Christ. Jesus has established a new, spiritual temple by the sacrifice of himself on the cross, and he has brought us not to Mount Sinai or to the old Mount Zion but to a new Mount Zion and a new Jerusalem.

Yesterday, we examined the first thing that impressed the psalmist as he stood joyfully inside the city's gates and walls, which was its compact unity. Today, we look at the second item, which was its importance as a center for dispensing justice. 

Psalm 122 falls into three easily identifiable parts: 1) expressions of joy upon arriving in Jerusalem (vv. 1, 2); 2) observations upon the unity of the city and its function as a center for dispensing justice (vv. 3-5); and 3) prayer for the city's peace and prosperity (vv. 6-9). 

Psalm 122 is the third of the Songs of Ascents. In the first of this small group of fifteen psalms, Psalm 120, the singers are in a foreign land, beginning to turn their faces toward God's city. In the second psalm, Psalm 121, they seem to have sighted the city or are at least very near it at the end of their journey. Now, in Psalm 122, the travelers reflect on their joy when they were asked to join the pilgrim party and thrill that their feet are now actually standing within Jerusalem's gates (v. 2).