Summary: Why every believer needs to be an active participant in a local church
As a pastor, I’m constantly amazed at the excuses people have for not going to church. So I read with interest this week how someone parodied many of those excuses by coming up with a similar list of excuses that people could give for not washing their hands:
1) I was forced to wash as a child.
2) People who wash are hypocrites – they think they’re cleaner than others.
3) There are so many kinds of soap, I could never decide which was right.
4) I used to wash, but it got boring.
5) I wash only on Christmas or Easter.
6) None of my friends wash.
7) I’ll start washing when I’m older.
8) I really don’t have time.
9) The bathroom isn’t warm enough.
10) People who make soap are only after your money.
I pray that all of you are here this morning because you genuinely enjoy gathering together with your fellow Christ followers in order to worship God together.
This morning we’ll look at the third of the fifteen Psalms of Ascent that provide us with a great framework for our upward journey to become mature disciples of Jesus. We began two weeks ago with Psalm 120 that pointed out the importance of beginning our journey with repentance – choosing to say “no” to the lies of the world and “yes” to the truth of God. Then last week, in Psalm 121, we focused on the need to trust God on our journey and turn to Him for our help.
This week, in Psalm 122, we’re going to see the importance of corporate worship in our quest to become mature disciples of Jesus. Let’s begin as we’ve done each week by reading the Psalm out loud together:
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!
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 for judgment were set,
the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
“May they be secure who love you!
Peace be within your walls
and security 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.
Psalm 122:1-9 (ESV)
Last week, we began by identifying the key word in that Psalm - “keep/keeper”. So let’s begin again by seeing if we can’t identify the predominant theme of this Psalm. This is going to be a bit harder since we can’t just look for one word, but also all the other times in the Psalm where this key idea is referred to by the pronouns “you” and “your”. So take a minute to red through the Psalm again and see if you can identify the main theme. [Wait for answers. If needed, give a clue: It’s a place]
That’s right – this entire Psalm revolves around Jerusalem. So it seems prudent for us to take a few minutes to determine why Jerusalem was so important to the Psalmist and his fellow Hebrew pilgrims.
Significance of Jerusalem:
• It was the place where God chose to manifest His presence
If you look at the superscription at the beginning of this Psalm, you’ll notice that its authorship is attributed to David. Some commentators have disputed his authorship, arguing that since the phrase “the house of the Lord” is used in verse 1 that David could not have written it because the temple was not yet built.
However, that same phrase is used at least nine other times in the Old Testament prior to the time that the temple was built during Solomon’s reign. That particular phrase is consistently used throughout the Old Testament to refer to the place where God chose to manifest His presence. Initially that place was the tabernacle, wherever it happened to be. Later that place was the temple in Jerusalem.
In 2 Samuel 6, we read the account of how David had the Ark of the Covenant brought to Jerusalem where it was placed in the tent that David had erected as a resting place for it, thus making Jerusalem the location of the “house of the Lord”. Verse 1 of this Psalm, where David proclaims that he was glad when he was invited to go to the house of the Lord certainly brings to mind the way that David celebrated when the Ark was brought to Jerusalem, dancing before the Lord with all his might.
Now obviously God has never been limited to just being present in one place at any one time. But the tent, and later the temple, in Jerusalem was the place where He chose to reveal Himself to His people and to manifest His presence: