Psalm 122 (A)

Justice ushers peace into existence.

Psalm 122


Psalm 122 is a song of praise and a prayer for Jerusalem.  It is one of the Songs of Ascents which Hebrew pilgrims would have recited while ascending the uphill road to Jerusalem to attend the annual festivals held at the temple.  This psalm describes Jerusalem as a safe place for people to go who are experiencing times of trouble and oppression to find security.  The thrones of judgment described in the psalm refer to the monarchy in ancient Israel as the dispenser of justice.  The people are on a pilgrimage for justice and they hope to find it in Jerusalem. Peace in Jerusalem meant well-being for all of God’s beloved.  Peace means justice has been delivered.

Let us pray for Justice and Peace for the world.

image from World Justice Project

I began writing Psalm reflections during Lent of 2020 shortly after we decided to close the church building, work from home, and worship via zoom.  It is a practice I have continued since.  Many churches use the Revised Common Lectionary (RLC) that rotates scripture on a three-year cycle (A, B, and C).  Starting in Advent 2019, Third Church decided to worship with the texts from Year D, which is still not circulated as are years A, B, and C.  Year D was created with the goal of including scriptures that were left out or not used as frequently as others.  While we were using Psalms in year D, most other lectionary followers were using Year A.  In Advent of 2020 we rejoined those who use the lectionary in year B.  Advent of 2021 year C.  Advent of 2022 year A.

I use the Vanderbilt Divinity Library’s resource for lectionary readings to make text selections.

Year A Psalms

1st Sunday in Avent Psalm 122, 2nd Sunday in Avent Psalm 72, 3rd Sunday in Avent Psalm 146 or Luke 1:46-55, 4th Sunday in Avent Psalm 80, Christmas Psalm 96, Psalm 97, Psalm 98, 1st Sunday after Christmas Psalm 148, New Year Psalm 8, Epiphany Psalm 72, 1st Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 29, 2nd Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 40, 3rd Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 27, 4th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 15, 5th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 112, 6th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 119, Transfiguration Sunday Psalm 2 or Psalm 99.

Ash Wednesday Psalm 51, 1st Sunday in Lent Psalm 32, 2nd Sunday in Lent Psalm 121, 3rdSunday in Lent Psalm 95, 4th Sunday in Lent Psalm 23, 5th Sunday in Lent Psalm 130, 6th Sunday in Lent Psalm 118 or Psalm 31.

Holy Week: Monday Psalm 36, Tuesday Psalm 71, Wednesday Psalm 70, Thursday Psalm 116, Friday Psalm 22, Saturday Psalm 31.

Easter Psalm 118 or Psalm 114, 2nd Sunday of Easter Psalm 16, 3rd Sunday of Easter Psalm 116, 4th Sunday of Easter Psalm 23, 5th Sunday of Easter Psalm 31, 6th Sunday of Easter Psalm 66, Ascension of the Lord Psalm 47 or Psalm 93, 7th Sunday of Easter Psalm 68, Pentecost Psalm 104.

1st Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 8, 2nd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 33 or Psalm 50, 3rd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 116 or Psalm 100, 4th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 86 or Psalm 69, 5thSunday after Pentecost Psalm 13 or Psalm 89, 6th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 45 or Psalm 145, 7th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 119 or Psalm 65, 8th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 139 or Psalm 86, 9th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 105 or Psalm 119, 10th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 17 or Psalm 145, 11th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 105 or Psalm 85, 12th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 133 or Psalm 67, 13th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 124 or Psalm 138, 14thSunday after Pentecost Psalm 105 or Psalm 26, 15th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 149 or Psalm 119, 16th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 114 or Psalm 103, 17th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 105 or Psalm 145, 18th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 78 or Psalm 25, 19th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 19 or Psalm 80, 20th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 106 or Psalm 23, 21stSunday after Pentecost Psalm 99 or Psalm 96, 22nd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 90 or Psalm 1, 23rd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 107 or Psalm 43, 24th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 78 or Psalm 70, 25th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 123 or Psalm 90, 26th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 100 or Psalm 95.

Sources and notes:

“Psalm 122 is the third in the series of Songs of Ascents (see Psalms 120-124). Its first work in Hebrew is the verb for rejoicing. The entire song overflows with joy over Jerusalem–being there, contemplating its significance, and praying for its peace.” Mays p. 392

“In the sequence of these pilgrimage songs, Psalm 122 serves as a song of arrival. Verse 2 locates the company of pilgrims within the gates of the city.” Mays p. 392

“The description conjures up visions of Jerusalem as a safe place, a place to which people could go in times of trouble and oppression and find security. In the ancient Near East city walls provided protection and sanctuary for inhabitants and surrounding peasant families in times of danger from enemies.” W p. 185

The thrones “in verse 5 refer to the role of the monarchy in ancient Israel as dispenser of justice to the people.” W. p 185

“The peace of Jerusalem guaranteed the well-being of the people of God.” W p. 187

Jerusalem is a place of justice. “The thrones fo judgment were the legal institutions, seats of justice, that had been established by the Davidic monarchy in Jerusalem (II Sam. 8:15; 15:2-6); the prophets held the city to be especially responsible for the provision o justice in Israel (Micah 3:9-12; Isa. 1:21-23). Pilgrimage season was likely a time when conflicts and disputes unsettled in the country courts were brought to the royal officials and their successors in the post exilic period. The peace of the community depended on the establishment of justice. Pilgrimage is a journey in search of justice.” Mays p. 393

“… for unless Jerusalem, knows peace, the place of the Presence is set in an environment that ignores and denies the purpose of the LORD (35:27).” Mays p. 394

WBC Allen, Leslie C. 1983. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 101-150. Vol. 21. Waco, TX: Word Books, Publisher.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. 1974. Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. 8th ed. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Press.

Brueggemann, Walter. 2007. Praying the Psalms: Engaging Scripture and the Life of the Spirit. 2nd ed. Eugene, OR: Cascade.

Brueggemann Brueggemann, Walter. 2014. From Whom No Secrets Are Hid: Introducing the Psalms. Edited by Brent A. Strawn. 1st ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

Chittister Chittister, Joan. (2011). Songs of the heart: reflections on the psalms. John Garratt Publishing. 

WBC Craigie, Peter C. 1983. Psalms 1-50–Word Biblical Commentary. Vol. 19. Waco, TX: Word Books.

Creach Creach, Jerome Frederick Davis. 1998. Psalms: Interpretation Bible Studies. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

DAFLER, J. (2021). PSOBRIETY: A journey of recovery through the psalms. Louisville, KY: WESTMINSTER JOHN KNOX.

W de Claisse-Walford, Nancy L. WISDOM COMMENTARY: Psalms Bks. 4-5. Edited by Barbara E. Reid. Vol. 22. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2020. 

W Hopkins, Denise Dombkowski. WISDOM COMMENTARY: Psalms Bks. 2-3. Edited by Barbara E. Reid. Vol. 21. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2016. 

NIB Keck, Leander E. 2015. The New Interpreters Bible Commentary. Vol. 3. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Lewis, C. S. (2017). Reflections on the Psalms. Harper One, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers. 

Mays Mays, James Luther. 1994. Psalms. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press.

McCann McCann, J. C. (1993). A theological introduction to the book of Psalms: The Psalms as Torah. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

McCann, J. C., & Howell, J. C. 2001. Preaching the Psalms. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Merrill, N. C. (2020). Psalms for praying an invitation to wholeness (10th Anniversary Edition ed.). London, England: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Miller Miller, Patrick D. 1986. Interpreting the Psalms. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press.

Schlimm Schlimm, Matthew Richard. 2018. 70 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know.Nashville, TN: Abington Press.

Spong Spong, M. (Ed.). (2020). The words of her mouth: Psalms for the struggle. Cleveland, OH: The Pilgrim Press.

WBC Tate, Marvin E. 1990. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 51-100. Edited by David Allan. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker. Vol. 20. Waco, TX: Word.

OTL Weiser, Artur. 1998. Old Testament Library: Psalms. Translated by Herbert Hartwell. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Manchester University Press.

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