Procession and Peace
by Sarah Ivill
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
Weariness can suck the life out of us like nothing else. In the midst of long seasons of suffering, or battling particular sins, weariness often sets in and threatens our joy, peace, patience, and faithfulness. We wonder whether it will ever end. We try to just endure. We accept another day of pain or failure. We barely recognize ourselves sometimes. We might become introverted, numb to relationships and circumstances, eager for night to fall again so we can climb back into bed, and be silent in our suffering, sin or shame. What does Scripture teach us to do when we find ourselves weary? Psalm 122 gives us a good answer. It is one of the Songs of Ascents (120-134), which the people of God used to sing on their way to Jerusalem for the annual feasts, and as such are appropriate for Christians of all ages to sing as God’s pilgrim people (1 Pet. 1:1).
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.
Procession (122:1-5). The weary pilgrim has finally made his way to the city of God—what joy fills his heart! The pilgrim finds a community there characterized by unity, praise and justice. These three things bring gladness to his heart.
The weary Christian today finds unity, praise and justice in the church. We gather together each Sunday with gladness in our hearts, praising the God who has saved us and seeking to bring forth righteousness and justice in our interactions with one another. It is Christ who builds the church and we are members of one another, each one given spiritual gifts to use to build up the body of Christ and serve one another (1 Cor. 12:27; Eph. 4:11-16).
As we live together as the covenant community, we live in hope of the New Jerusalem where there will be no more pain or sorrow, and no more temple because Christ Himself will be the temple in the new heaven and earth. The latter should be our greatest hope and joy, especially when we’re weary—we will be with Christ!
Peace (122:6-9). Not only is there gladness in the pilgrim’s heart, there is a prayer for peace and security on his lips. This desire for peace is reflected in the priestly blessing, “the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Num. 6:26). Because the pilgrim is aware of his communion with God and his communion with his brothers, he desires peace within Jerusalem (“city of peace”).
It is Christ who has brought peace between Jews and Gentiles and made us one new man in place of the two, reconciling us to God through the cross (Eph. 2:14-16). As those who are in union with Christ and are members of one another, we are to pursue peace in our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as with unbelievers we know. This is hard to do, especially when you’re weary with suffering, but Christ promises, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).
Lord, because of Your presence in us, we have the privilege to be peacemakers. We live in such a conflicted and hostile world. You equip us to build a place of peace for those in our own circles of influence. We know that peace can spread, one person at a time if it is rooted in You. Today, Lord, make me Your peacemaker.
Sarah Ivill (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) is the author of several Bible studies and books, including The Covenantal Life: Appreciating the Beauty of Theology and Community. She is a wife, mother to four children, Bible study teacher, and conference speaker who lives in Matthews, North Carolina, and is a member of Christ Covenant Church (PCA). To learn more about Sarah, visit her website: www.sarahivill.com.