This study © 1999 by David Humpal
The Promise of Peace
In this world of violence and trouble, everyone is searching for peace but few can seem to find it. In this brief psalm, we will see how David gives us a pattern to find peace. The Hebrew word for peace in this psalm is shalom. The etymology of this one word is interesting, because it is often used to inquire of a personís health and to ask how events were unfolding. The Hebrews believed that peace implied health and success. And so it is today. Our society is flooded with all kinds of illnesses, syndromes, neuroses, and suffering. The reason for this is that we have neglected the peace of the Lord. We are so busy and so anxious that we never allow God to give us real calmness. We need to learn how to return to the peace, the shalom, of God - not only for our mental well-being, but also for physical health and success in our endeavors. When we are filled with thoughts of turmoil and trouble, this will affect every part of our being.
I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord!"
In order to find peace, the first thing we must do is go to the Lord. It is like that bumper sticker that says, "No God, No Peace. Know God, Know Peace!" We cannot find calmness and serenity separate from God. We need to get in the habit of spending quiet times alone with God - times of prayer, Bible reading, and meditation. During these times, the Lord will calm us and give us his rest.
The psalmist said he was glad when he went to Godís house. He was excited about going to the house of the Lord to worship and to have an encounter with God. Those who neglect regular worship will find the cares of this world creeping into their thoughts and their focus becoming self-centered instead of God-centered.
Moll wrote in 1870, "He who loves the people of God must not only be willing to build and protect for them the house of God, but must also invite them there and walk there with them. - Peace rules only where the God of peace dwells; cleave then to the city of peace which is the Church of the living God."
Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!
Next, we must stand firm in our faith. The primary reason for doubt, worry, and fear is that we do not stand firm in our faith. When we trust our troubles to God, we will find that the Holy Spirit gives us a peace that is beyond understanding. We know we should be concerned, but somehow our spirit is calmed. The reason for this is we are looking to God as our strength and our protection.
Jerusalem is symbolic of a stronghold or refuge. It was a refuge against bandits and a stronghold against enemies. When trouble was in the area, people could find safety behind the walls of the city. It is interesting to note that Jerusalem means "foundation of peace." As we stand firm for God, we find that God is our Jerusalem, our foundation for peace.
Jerusalem, built as a city which is bound firmly together.
We must be bound firmly together with God. When wood glue is attached to two pieces of board, the glue soaks into the wood and actually binds parts of each board together. Anyone who has ever broken a board that has been glued for a long time knows this. The binding of the glue actually becomes stronger than the individual boards. It is the same when we are bound with the Lord.
We need to understand he cares for us and will help us. If we think of it from the viewpoint that God is bound together with us, we will realize how safe and protected we really are. God surrounds us with his love and holds us in his arms, and we experience a peace and comfort that the world cannot give.
In 1888 A. B. Earle related how he ministered to a young woman who had just completed medical school. She was dying and had always been hard-hearted to the things of God. As Rev. Earle ministered to her, she decided to accept Christ as her savior. She only lived a few days after that, but her family said that each of those last days in her young life she periodically whispered the words, "peace, peace, peace." She had finally found the peace that had been eluding her. When we are bound together with God, we discover a peace in our heart that we had never known before.
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.
We must give thanks instead of moaning over our problems. If we understand that God is with us and that God will see us through every trouble, we will view problems differently. Instead of thinking of them as a time of suffering and confusion, we will look at them as a time of growing in our faith and learning about Godís love. This is why, even in the most severe circumstances, we can give thanks to the Lord. We can praise him and count the many blessings God has given us. No matter what storms we may be facing, we should be grateful that we have been saved and are now part of Godís family. No matter what horrible things may happen to us, nothing should keep us from thanking God for his mercy and love toward us.
Notice that all the different tribes went up to Jerusalem. God does not care how famous you are or how rich you are or how good-looking you are. All different people are invited to come. They came from every different direction, every different economic situation, and every different social standing. They all came equal before God. No matter how inferior or worthless or unimportant you may feel, God is inviting you to come also. He loves you as much as he does anyone else in his family!
There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David.
We must be willing to be judged by God. If we want to find peace, there may be things in our life that need to be removed. We need to be willing to be examined by the Holy Spirit and to be willing to cast off our sins as God reveals them to us. When we are exhibiting sinful behavior, we will suffer the consequences of these actions. When we are exhibiting wrong attitudes, we will suffer mentally from these wrong thinking patterns. When we allow our heart to desire things that we should not or can not have, we will feel miserable with frustration and disappointment.
All these things keep us from experiencing peace in our lives. We need to allow God to make the changes that he wants if we want to discover true calmness in our soul. When I was a boy, I loved playing with modeling clay. I would make little cars, and then take a long strip of clay and roll it into a long cylinder which would become a motor home for the car to pull. While forming the motor home, I would roll the clay back and forth, back and forth smoothing out its rough spots until it was shaped properly. This is what God does to us. He is constantly smoothing out our rough spots. He knows what our ultimate shape is going to be. We may not like all this shaping and smoothing, but when we allow God to do it, we will find that he makes us into exactly what is the very best for us.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May they prosper who love you!
We must pray for peace. We can pray for peace in our soul, peace in our family, and peace in our world. Amidst pain and calamities, we need to spend time praying for peace. No matter how difficult the situation may be, we must pray for peace. As James 4:2 tells us, "You do not have, because you do not ask."
If we love God, we will want to do whatís right. This verse tells us that those who love God will prosper. The Hebrew word used here for prosper isyishlayuw which means to be at rest or at ease Those who love God are promised tranquillity. We do not need to be overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety. We can have the peace of God residing within us.
Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers!
We have the promise of peace within our walls - in our home, in our job, in our church. No matter where we go, the Lord is with us. He will grant us peace in every situation. We no longer have to be tied up in knots of conflict or worry. If we do the things that David has enumerated in this psalm, we will find peace. It is not because of our great spirituality, but because of Godís great love for us.
We also have the promise of security within our towers. The tower represents Godís mighty power that protects us and keeps us safe. Not only are we at peace, but we are also safe. Godís protecting arms wrap around us so that even when we are suffering through persecution or heartache, God is with us to see us through. We should take great comfort in this. We are safe and secure in Godís tower - no matter how bad the troubles seem!
For my brethren and companionsí sake I will say, "Peace be within you!"
We must be concerned for others. David is concerned not only with his own peace but also that of his brothers and companions. It is amazing how troubles can quickly fade in importance when our focus is on helping others. When our concern shifts away from our worries, we find a joy in helping and caring for others. Perhaps there are some family members or friends that you can reach out to help. Allow the Lord to minister through you.
Francis of Assisi wrote:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace!
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.
If we want to find genuine peace, we must seek goodness or righteousness. As long as we follow sinful impulses or delight in doing wrong things, we will find no repose. Our life will be in turmoil, and we will seem to go from one crisis to another. We must seek to do good. When we are doing whatís right, we are acting the way God intended us to act. Our actions build up our mind, our spirit, and our soul.
If we want to find true peace in every situation, let us follow the advice from this psalm.
When we do these things, we will discover a new joy and a new calmness in our soul. Our troubles may not disappear, but we will find peace in the midst of the storms.
This study on Psalm 122 © 1999 by David Humpal, all rights reserved.
Moll: Langeís Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Psalms, pg. 610, Zondervan Publishing House (language slightly updated)
Earle from Classic Sermon Illustrations © 1997, Ages Software