Wednesday, November 2, 2022

The City of Rest (Psalm 122)

"I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the LORD” (Ps. 122:1).

In Psalm 122 David celebrates the coming of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. Many years had passed since God brought the people into the land, yet the ark had found no permanent place to rest. Finally, God appointed the ark to be established in the seat of the holy city of Jerusalem. From there, the people of God would engage in continual worship at the sanctuary. The people would also receive the benefits of God’s having chosen the seat of royalty to be at Jerusalem, from which He would protect His people.

“Whenever the ark of the covenant was conveyed from one place to another, God thereby stirred up the hearts of His servants to desire and pray that a certain settled place might be appointed to it,” Calvin wrote. “As while it was frequently changing its abode, the faith of the people hung in suspense, so after God had chosen for it a permanent residence, He by this testified more unequivocally that He would be the everlasting and unchangeable protector of His people.” Because God established His rest in Jerusalem, the people believed His promise that He would be with them forever, that He would give them peace and help them to stand firm.

Christ has fulfilled this rest and has brought even more abundant joy to His people. He said, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20). Looking forward to His coming, Isaiah 11:10 prophesies, “His rest shall be glorious.” Thus, as Christ dwells among His people in the person of the Holy Spirit, we receive the joy and peace that comes from His presence.

The people of Israel celebrated the establishment of the ark not only as a sacred place of worship but as a royal seat of honor. Likewise, “our salvation depends upon these two points; first, that Christ has been given to us to be our priest; and, secondly, that He has been established as king to govern us. This God showed to His ancient people under figures. The sanctuary erected on mount Zion was intended to keep their faith fixed upon the spiritual priesthood of Christ; and in like manner, by the kingdom of David, there was presented to their view an image of the kingdom of Christ.” Let each of us, then, celebrate with praise Christ as our High Priest and our Sovereign King, who dwells among us and intercedes on our behalf.

The Israelites understood the importance of the relation between the priesthood and the kingdom. Today, some people want to embrace Christ as priest but not as king. Why is it necessary to recognize Christ as both priest and king over His people? What happens when you refuse to acknowledge Christ as King?