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122. Psalm 122

I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.

2Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.

3Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together:

4Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord.

5For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David.

6Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.

7Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.

8For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee.

9Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek thy good.

7. Peace be within thy bulwarks, etc. The two clauses express the same sentiment, and, therefore, the meaning of the first is gathered from the second. The term peace signifies nothing else than prosperity. The noun שלוה, shalvah, in the second clause, sometimes signifies rest, but it is more frequently taken for abundance or prosperity On this account I have translated the noun בחילך, bechelech, within thy bulwark 7373     Calvin’s meaning is, that as the nouns peace and prosperity have a corresponding signification, he was of opinion, that there existed a similar correspondence between the other two nouns. I do not find fault with others who have translated it a ditch or outward wall; but the word bulwark agrees better with the word towers, which occurs at the close of the verse. The amount is, that David prays for the prosperity of the Church through its whole extent. Moreover, it is to be noticed, that when he offers supplication for its external prosperity, it is not to be understood as implying that he was unconcerned about its internal state or spiritual well being; but under the similitude of walls, 7474     The Latin copy here reads, “sed ad mores alludens;” but mores is evidently a typographical error for muros The French version has “mais sous ceste similitude des murs he wishes that on all sides the blessing of God may environ and fortify the holy city.

8. For the sake of my brethren and neighbors. He specifies two causes on account of which he felt a care about the Church, for the purpose of stirring up, by his example, all the faithful to exercise the same care. These words, however, seem to contain a tacit contrast. Among the wicked and malicious he might be the object of suspicion, or, at least, he was in danger of being slandered; as if, in commending Jerusalem, he had rather an eye to his own particular advantage than to the public welfare. In order, therefore, to remove all ground for objecting, that in thus speaking he was craftily endeavoring to establish his own kingdom, he protests, that he is not influenced by personal considerations, but by a concern for the whole Church, which he embraced with a sincere affection of heart. I will speak, says he, O Jerusalem! of thy peace, not because it will be profitable for me or mine, but because thy prosperity shall extend itself to all the children of God; for under the term brethren he doubtless comprehends all believers that he did so, because the worship of God so far from remaining entire would go to ruin unless Jerusalem continued standing. If then the salvation of our brethren is regarded by us as an object of importance, if religion is with us a matter of heart-work, we ought, at the same time, as much as in us lies, to take an interest in the prosperity of the Church. Whence it follows, that such as are indifferent about her condition, are no less cruel than impious; for if she is “the pillar and foundation of truth,” the inevitable consequence of her destruction must be the extinction of true piety. And if the body is destroyed, how can each of the members fail to be involved in destruction? Farther, this passage teaches us, that the Church is not an empty title, but must be sought for where the true religion prevails. Whence it appears, how foolish the Papists are, who, notwithstanding their having rejected and overthrown the doctrine of the Gospel, yet mightily boast of the name of the Church.

9. Because of the house of Jehovah our God, etc. In this verse he adds a second reason why he cared for the Church — that he did so, because the worship of God so far from remaining entire would go to ruin unless Jerusalem continued standing. If then the salvation of our brethren is regarded by us as an object of importance, if religion is with us a matter of heart-work, we ought, at the same time, as much as in us lies, to take an interest in the prosperity of the Church. Whence it follows, that such are indifferent about her condition, are no less cruel than impious; for if she is “the pillar and foundation of truth,” the inevitable consequence of her destruction must be the extinction of true piety. And if the body is destroyed, how can each of the members fail to be involved in destruction? Farther, this passage teaches us that the Church is not an empty title, but must be sought for where the true religion prevails. Whence it appears, how foolish the Papists are, who, notwithstanding their having rejected and overthrown the doctrine of the Gospel, yet mightily boast of the name of the Church.


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