Going to the House of the Lord – Psalm 122 Doug Floyd The gentle sounds of young men softly

humming mingled with bittersweet scents of late harvest and the bite of crisp autumn air. These sensations excited Shamir’s tired imagination with visions from festivals long ago. This long-awaited journey was like stepping forth into a new world. The young men followed him back to the land that only he remembered. He told them the stories, he taught them the songs, and now he led back to the land of his past. And the land of their future. As they walked, they hummed, and the words to an ancient song beat in their hearts and coursed through their bodies. Day after day, month after month, year after year, he held tightly to the melody of this short, joyful song of ascents. “I was glad when they said unto me Let us go into the house of the Lord!” A lifetime before, his father taught him to sing while on pilgrimage to the temple. To keep the body from growing weary during such a long trip, his father told him that a song can make the heart dance and tired feet step lively. Little Shamir and his father would sing together: I was glad when they said to me, “We will go to the house of the LORD.” Our feet are standing Within your gates, O Jerusalem! Jerusalem you that are built As a city bound in fellowship. Here the tribes ascend, The tribes of the LORD, As is the law for Israel, To give thanks to the name of the LORD. And here stands thrones of justice, The thrones of the house of David. O pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May blessing abound on those who love you. Peace be within your walls, Tranquility within your palaces For the sake of my brothers and companions,

I will pray down peace upon you. For sake of the house of the LORD our God I will seek your good. As they walked and sang, they joined with other pilgrims who joined with other pilgrims, and soon a large band walked and sang and longed toward the holy city. King Josiah’s devotion to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob renewed a sense of hope and purpose and destiny for this small kingdom. Shamir’s father recounted the legendary glory days when King David the Warrior and King Solomon the Golden Son ruled the land. The world came to this tiny kingdom to hear and see the unfolding wisdom of the great High God. Our feet are standing Within your gates, O Jerusalem! Jerusalem you that are built As a city bound in fellowship. Standing at the gates of city, they beheld the fine craftsmanship of Israel’s ancients firsthand. Giant stones cut to fit in perfect harmony and strength. The great wall formed a mosaic that reflected the call of God to bind the tribes of Israel into one people, one voice, one sounding glory upon the earth. Growing up immersed in the stories of his people, Shamir dreamed of one day helping this call to glory echo across the land. But his dreams of future hope fractured into memories of terror, destruction and violence when the invasions began. During one attack his family fell under weight Babylon’s cruel victory, and he joined other young men taken captive on the long track to a foreign land. As he marched away on this dark pilgrimage, Shamir quietly prayed, For sake of the house of the LORD our God I will seek your good. He continued to dream of one day returning to stand within the gates of Jerusalem. Shamir watched as some of the captives lost heart during the long years of Babylonian rule. Serving in this massive kingdom, made Judah seem like a tiny spec of a nation and the Hebrews a spec of a people. The days and years and decades of his long dark night were filled with echoes of song, longing for a new day.

“I was glad when they said unto me Let us go into the house of the Lord!” In the song, Shamir could still see the wonder of Solomon’s throne through the eyes of his heart. He told his stories, Judah’s stories, Israel’s stories to the young men who would listen. And gradually some began to sing and hope and long for a land their eyes had never seen. These same young men now surrounded the old man as a band of pilgrims returning to the land of their fathers. Cyrus, King of Persia had granted bands of people from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to make the long journey and rebuild the temple. And as they walked on this cool autumn morning, they hummed. Shamir’s broken body simply couldn’t express the giddiness of his childlike heart. He wanted to dance and sing loudly and swirl like King David of old. Instead, he stumbled and smiled and dreamed. Walking in between waking and sleeping, he could see the city that once was. As he looked at overgrown fields and ruins from another time, he could see great walls of glory. He also saw the pilgrims who also walked this journey. Here the tribes ascend, The tribes of the LORD, As is the law for Israel, To give thanks to the name of the LORD. He watched old men, young men, women, a few animals and some children. All tired from the long journey. But even as he looked out to the ascending tribes, he saw beyond the handfuls of sojourners to more tribes, people of every race, every color. He saw great horses and chariots; he saw mighty kings. As far as his eyes could see, a vast multitude walked. And as they walked they loudly sang, “I was glad when they said unto me Let us go into the house of the Lord!” He wanted to shout, to dance, to scream. But his body was too weak. The young men began to carry him across the scarred land. For a moment Shamir rejoined the small bands of travelers heading toward the holy city.

The heat of the day now beat upon them as they pressed with all their heart and souls into the future, longing to rebuild and restore the hope of what once was. Passing through the gates, they walked up toward Mount Zion to survey the ruins of the temple. And as they walked, they prayed May blessing abound on those who love you. Peace be within your walls, Tranquility within your palaces For the sake of my brothers and companions, I will pray down peace upon you. Shamir longed for the day when this city would come to life again. He long for music in the air and singing on the lips. He longed for the king to be restored and justice to reign. As he longed, the way ahead cleared and he saw Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. He saw thousands of upon thousands of people ascending. He saw the king in all his glory seated on the throne justice and bringing peace to this war weary world. He saw light an innumerable company of angels, and then he beheld the Lord of glory. Shamir could no longer walk but fell to the ground sang with all his heart “I was glad when they said unto me Let us go into the house of the Lord!” “I was glad when they said unto me Let us go into the house of the Lord!” “I was glad when they said unto me Let us go into the house of the Lord!” The young men laid the body of their old friend at the ruins of the ancient Temple. They quietly knelt and together they sang once more an ancient song of rejoicing and worship unto the Lord.