This Psalm is the third in a series of 15 songs of ascents, sung by Israelite pilgrims as they ascended to Jerusalem; the highest city, physically and metaphorically in Palestine, to attend a religious festival. The focus of this Psalm is worship. A core feature of our Christian community is to worship God together. The pattern set in ancient Israel continues to this day, in people groups around the globe. It is not an isolated practice, but a widespread, popular activity, below the radar of media attention. This song notes a joyful willingness to worship at the house of the Lord; not a half-hearted, formal, duty-bound observance (v1).
Eugene Peterson’s ‘The Journey” is a reflective meditation on these songs. He notes that the pattern of the tribes going up to Jerusalem provides order, a framework for Israel’s life, as worship provides framework for our lives too. The praising of our Creator and Saviour is an essential aspect of our relationship with Him – it nurtures, acknowledges, opens our minds and hearts to God’s words and His will- and centres our attention on what is really important, praiseworthy.
The statute (v4), or command to praise the Lord is given out of love, for our benefit – not for slavish rule keeping. It recognizes we may not always feel like praising Him, but to praise Him is more important than how we feel. The bible focuses much more on how we should act rather than on how we should feel.
Through worship we pray for and experience the peace and security that passes understanding (6-8). A wholeness through God’s salvation, a peace and security that is not dependent on our bank balance, health or situation, but a dependent trust that everything is alright because God is over us, with us and for us in Jesus Christ. (p42 The Journey)