Psalm 122:3

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 3. Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together. David saw in vision the city built; no more a waste, or a mere collection of tents, or a city upon paper, commenced but not completed. God's mercy to the Israelitish nation allowed of peace and plenty, sufficient for the uprise and perfecting of its capital: that City flourished in happy times, even as the church is only built up when all the people of God are prospering. Thanks be to God, Jerusalem is builded: the Lord by his glorious appearing has built up Zion. Furthermore, it is not erected as a set of booths, or a conglomeration of hovels, but as a city, substantial, architectural, designed, arranged, and defended. The church is a permanent and important institution, founded on a rock, builded with art, and arranged with wisdom. The city of God had this peculiarity about it, that it was not a long, straggling street, or a city of magnificent distances (as some mere skeleton places have been styled), but the allotted space was filled, the buildings were a solid block, a massive unity: this struck the dwellers in villages, and conveyed to them the idea of close neighbourhood, sure standing, and strong defence. No quarter could be surprised and sacked while other portions of the town were unaware of the assault: the ramparts surrounded every part of the metropolis, which was singularly one and indivisible. There was no flaw in this diamond of the world, this pearl of cities. In a church one of the most delightful conditions is the compactness of unity: "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." A church should be one in creed and one in heart, one in testimony and one in service, one in aspiration and one in sympathy. They greatly injure our Jerusalem who would build dividing walls within her; she needs compacting, not dividing. There is no joy in going up to a church which is rent with internal dissension: the gladness of holy men is aroused by the adhesiveness of love, the unity of life; it would be their sadness if they saw the church to be a house divided against itself. Some bodies of Christians appear to be periodically blown to fragments, and no gracious man is glad to be in the way when the explosions take place: thither the tribes do not go up, for strife and contention are not attractive forces.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 3. Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together. The deep depressions which secured the city must have always acted as its natural defence. But they also determined its natural boundaries. The city, wherever else it spread, could never overleap the valley of the Kedron or of Hinnom; and those two fosses, so to speak, became accordingly, as in the analogous case of the ancient towns of Etruria, the Necropolis of Jerusalem... The compression between these valleys probably occasioned the words of the Psalmist: "Jerusalem is built as a city that is at unity in itself." It is an expression not inapplicable even to the modern city, as seen from the east. But it was still more appropriate to the original city, if, as seems probable, the valley of Tyropoeon formed in earlier times a fosse within a fosse, shutting in Zion and Moriah into one compact mass not more than half a mile in breadth. Arthur Penrhyn Stanley (1815-1881), in "Sinai and Palestine."

Verse 3. Jerusalem. It matters not how wicked or degraded a place may have been in former times, when it is sanctified to the use and service of God it becomes honourable. Jerusalem was formerly Jebus -- a place where the Jebusites committed their abominations, and where were all the miseries of those who hasten after another God. But now, since it is devoted to God's service, it is a city -- "compact together," "the joy of the whole earth." William S. Plumer.

Verse 3. Compact. Jerusalem was compactly built; every rood of ground, every foot of frontage, was valuable; house was joined to house; those who had gardens had them beyond the city walls, among the "paradises" of the valley of Jehoshaphat. Samuel Cox.

Verse 3. Compact together. Methinks Philadelphia, the name of one of the seven golden candlesticks ( Revelation 1:11-12 ), is a very proper fitting name for a church, which signifies brotherly love; and every congregation ought to be in a good sense the family of love. Breaches and divisions, distractions and heart burnings, may happen in other kingdoms which are without God in the world and strangers to the covenant of grace; yet let Jerusalem, the Church of God, be always like a city which is at unity within itself. John Pigot, 1643.

Verse 3. As a city that is compact together. Can we say of the great universal church throughout the world, what the pilgrims said of Jerusalem when gazing on its splendour, from the surrounding hills, that it is built "as a city that is compact together"? A stately capital, throned on a base of rock, its spacious streets and noble edifices, beautiful in themselves, deriving added splendour from the taste and regularity of their arrangement, appears, both to the scoffing unbeliever and grieving Christian, a singularly inappropriate emblem of the divided and distracted, the jarring and warring church. If the church may be compared to a city in respect of magnitude, it is one in which every one builds on his own plan; in which the various masses which should embellish and support each other are studiously kept apart, suggesting less the idea of a compact and united capital than of detached and isolated forts, held by persons who keep themselves jealously aloof from each other, save when mutual hatred and heart burnings bring them together for conflict. There is some truth in the picture; alas! for the proud, foolish builders who give occasion to it, and who, instead of praying for and seeking the peace of Jerusalem, rejoice in exhibiting, perpetuating, and fomenting strife! But, blessed be God, there is yet more of falsehood than truth in it. With all our divisions the Christian Jerusalem is compact in itself together, What occupies the hearts and tongues of the myriads of worshippers that assemble themselves weekly in the sanctuaries of our beloved land, and of the millions that assemble beyond the Atlantic billows, but the one glorious gospel of the grace of God? Leave out from the computation the priest with his mass book, the cold Socinian without his Saviour, and the deluded orthodox professor who holds the truth in unrighteousness; still yonder and yonder and yonder, whatever their name, their place, or their outward worship, are myriads of true hearts, beating with one pulse, gazing on one hope, possessed of one conviction, and praying and pressing forward to one blessed home. Robert Nisbet.

Verse 3-4. He commendeth Jerusalem, the figure of the church of God and of the corporation of his people, First, as a city for a community. Secondly, as the place of God's public assemblies for religious worship. Thirdly, as the place of public judicature, for governing the Lord's people under David, the type of Christ. Whence learn,

  1. The church of God is not without cause compared to a city, and especially to Jerusalem, because of the union, concord, community of laws, mutual commodities, and conjunction of strength which should be among God's people: Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together.
  2. That which commendeth a place most of anything is the erecting of the Lord's banner of love in it, and making it a place for his people to meet together for his worship: Jerusalem is a city whither the tribes go up.
  3. Whatsoever civil distinction God's children have among themselves, and howsoever they dwell scattered in several places of the earth, yet as they are the Lord's people, they should entertain a communion and conjunction among themselves as members of one universal church, as the signification of the peoples meeting thrice in the year at Jerusalem did reach: Wither the tribes did go up, the tribes of the Lord.
  4. As the tribes, so all particular churches, how far soever scattered, have one Lord, one covenant, one law and Scripture, signified by the tribes going up to the testimony of Israel, or to the Ark of the Covenant or testimony where the whole ordinances of God were to be exercised.
  5. The end of the ordinances of God, of holy covenanting and communion, and joining in public worship, is to acknowledge the grace and goodness of God, and to, glorify him; for the tribes did go up to give thanks unto the name of the Lord. David Dickson.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 3.

  1. A type of the New Jerusalem.
    1. As chosen by God.
    2. As founded upon a rock.
    3. As taken from an enemy.
  2. A type of its prosperity: "Builded as a city."
  3. A type of its perfection: "Compact together." G. R.

Verse 3. The unity of the church.

  1. Implied in all covenant dealings.
  2. Suggested by all Scriptural metaphors.
  3. Prayed for by our Lord.
  4. Promoted by the gifts of the Spirit.
  5. To be maintained by us all.

Verse 3-4. The united church the growing church.