Worship – Psalm 122

Here’s a snapshot of one of the devotionals included in my Journey to the Cross Devotional.

Psa 122:1-9  A Song of Ascents. Of David. I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the LORD.”  (2)  Our feet have been standing Within your gates, O Jerusalem!  (3)  Jerusalem is built As a city that is compact together,  (4)  Where the tribes go up, The tribes of the LORD, To the Testimony of Israel, To give thanks to the name of the LORD.  (5)  For thrones are set there for judgment, The thrones of the house of David.  (6)  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.  (7)  Peace be within your walls, Prosperity within your palaces.”  (8)  For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, “Peace be within you.”  (9)  Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek your good.

“As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after you; you alone are my heart’s desire, and I long to worship you.”

~ Hymn As the Deer Pants for the Water by Marty Nystrom

Our souls long for relationship with God, and our hearts long to worship Him. Worshipping God is an integral part of our pilgrimage. Many of us have experienced those worship services where the message and the music have swept us along and suddenly we feel the Holy Spirit moving. We’re overcome with emotion, lost in praise to Jesus. Those are awesome times.

But if we reduce worship to a feeling, we’ve missed the mark. If we only went to church when we felt like it, we would rarely ever go. Worship, like any other Christian discipline, is something we must develop, like a habit. A pattern that we regularly follow.

“Worship is an act that develops feelings for God, not a feeling for God that is expressed in an act of worship.”

~ Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

Beyond the praise music that centers our emotions on Christ, worship reminds us of God’s judgments and God’s promises. Hearing God’s word from the pulpit allows us to receive His truth, unencumbered by our ignorance or unrealized prejudices.

What I love about David’s psalm is how he links worship with peace. The doors of our worship halls welcome people of different backgrounds, economic levels, languages, intellect, and affiliations. Inside, all the “differences” the world focuses on are stripped away.

We are united in Christ.

This unity brings peace. The concept of shâlôm is not simply an absence of strife. Rather, it points to a completeness and wholeness as a result of God’s will being completed in us.

This unity brings prosperity. Not a 1st world prosperity rooted in financial abundance. But shalvâh, the sense of safety we have in knowing God is with us and for us.

During Jesus’ last week, He was often found in the Temple, teaching the people. The Pharisees and the Sadducees tested Him with many questions. Their final question was this: What is the greatest commandment?

Jesus answered:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  (38)  This is the great and first commandment.  (39)  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt 22:37-39)

Worship teaches us to love God, and a natural extension of loving God is loving people. David’s psalm reminds us to pray, not only for ourselves, but for others. For our church and for the Church (big C). For the new Jerusalem, and the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

As we continue this journey to the cross, may we pause habitually in the act of worship.

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