Psalm 122:4
Where the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, to the testimony of Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) Unto the testimony.—This is erroneous. The words are parenthetical: “Thither go (or, must and shall go) the tribes, the tribes of Judah (it is an ordinance for Israel) to praise the name of Jehovah.” (See Exodus 23:17, Deuteronomy 16:16, to this regulation.)

Psalm 122:4-5. Whither the tribes go up, &c. — Hebrew, Thither the tribes ascend; the tribes of the Lord — Whom God hath chosen to be his people, and whom he hath invited and required to resort thither. Unto the testimony of Israel — Unto the ark, called the testimony because of the tables of the covenant laid up in it, which are called God’s testimony, and the tables of the testimony. And this is called the testimony of, or to Israel, because it was given by God to them. To give thanks unto the name of the Lord — To worship God; this one eminent part thereof being put for all the rest. For there are set thrones of judgment — The supreme courts of justice for ecclesiastical and civil affairs. The thrones of the house of David — The royal throne, allotted by God to David and to his posterity, and the inferior seats of justice established by and under his authority.122:1-5 The pleasure and profit from means of grace, should make us disregard trouble and fatigue in going to them; and we should quicken one another to what is good. We should desire our Christian friends, when they have any good work in hand, to call for us, and take us with them. With what readiness should we think of the heavenly Jerusalem! How cheerfully should we bear the cross and welcome death, in hopes of a crown of glory! Jerusalem is called the beautiful city. It was a type of the gospel church, which is compact together in holy love and Christian communion, so that it is all as one city. If all the disciples of Christ were of one mind, and kept the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, their enemies would be deprived of their chief advantages against them. But Satan's maxim always has been, to divide that he may conquer; and few Christians are sufficiently aware of his designs.Whither the tribes - The twelve tribes of the children of Israel.

Go up - To the great feasts and festivals of the nation. See Exodus 23:17. This language of going up is such as would be used anywhere respecting the capital of a nation - as it is now of London; but it was literally true of Jerusalem, since it was elevated far above most parts of the land.

The tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel - The "ark of testimony;" the ark within which were the tables of stone, containing the law considered as God's testimony or witnessing as to justice, right, equity, duty, truth. See Exodus 16:34; Exodus 25:16, Exodus 25:21; Exodus 40:3, Exodus 40:20; Exodus 30:6, Exodus 30:36; Exodus 31:18.

To give thanks unto the name of the Lord - To worship Yahweh - the name often being put for the Being himself. A main part of Hebrew worship was praise, and hence, this is often put for the whole of worship.

4. testimony—If "unto" is supplied, this may denote the ark (Ex 25:10-21); otherwise the act of going is denoted, called a testimony in allusion to the requisition (De 16:16), with which it was a compliance. The tribes; not some few pious people of each tribe, as in Saul’s time and under the judges, but whole tribes; nor only one or two of the tribes, as it was during the late civil wars, but all the twelve tribes.

The tribes of the Lord; whom God hath chosen to be his people, and whom he hath invited and required to resort thither.

Unto the testimony of Israel; unto the ark, which is oft called the testimony, as Exodus 16:34 Leviticus 16:13 24:3 Num 17:, 1, and more fully the ark of the testimony, as Exodus 26:33,34, and elsewhere; because of the tables of the covenant laid up in it, which are called God’s testimony, and the tables of the testimony, as Exodus 25:16 31:18, &c. And this may well be called the testimony of or to Israel, because it was given by God to them and for their good. Or, by or according to the testimony of Israel, i.e. God’s command given to Israel, which may be alleged here as the reason which moved them to this journey.

To give thanks unto the name of the Lord; to worship God; this one eminent part and action thereof being put for all the rest. Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord,.... The twelve tribes of Israel; the males of them went up three times a year to Jerusalem to worship, at the feasts of passover, pentecost, and tabernacles; and was typical of the church of Christ, where the worship of God is carried on, his word preached, and ordinances administered; and whither saints go and attend for their own profit and the glory of God; this is the city of our solemnities, Isaiah 33:20;

unto the testimony of Israel; the ark of the testimony a symbol of the divine Presence. The law is called a testimony, because it testified the will of God to be done; this was put into an ark, which had its name from thence, and was typical of Christ, the end of the law for righteousness; and over the ark was the divine Presence: hither the tribes came to worship God, and to consult him;

"who (the Targum here says) testifies to Israel, that his divine Majesty dwells among them, when they go to confess unto the name of the Lord.''

The Gospel is called the testimony of Christ; and it is what testifies concerning his person, office, and grace, unto the Israel of God; and who go up to the house of God in order to hear it;

to give thanks unto the name of the Lord; for all his mercies and blessings, both temporal and spiritual; and which should be acknowledged, not only in a private manner, but publicly in the house of God; see Psalm 100:4.

Whither {d} the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the LORD.

(d) All the tribes according to God's covenant will come and pray there.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. Whither the tribes went up, (even) the tribes of Jah,

(As) a testimony for Israel,

To give thanks to the name of Jehovah.

The perfect tense might denote “custom in the past continuing into the present” and so be rendered go up, but it is more natural to take it as referring to the ancient custom of the days before the Exile. The poet idealises the past and forgets the division of the nation. The practice of pilgrimage to the Temple at Jerusalem is called a testimony, i.e. a law or institution which bore witness to Israel’s relation to Jehovah as His people. Cp. Psalm 81:4-5; Exodus 23:17; Deuteronomy 16:16.Verse 4. - Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord. This points to a time before the dispersion of "the tribes," which rendered such regular "going up" impossible. Unto the testimony of Israel; rather, as a testimony unto Israel - a witness to the whole nation that all Israelites had covenant privileges at Jerusalem. To give thanks unto the Name of the Lord. The three great feasts whereto Israel was bound to "go up" were all of them seasons of thanksgiving. That which holds good of "the Keeper of Israel" the poet applies believingly to himself, the individual among God's people, in Psalm 121:5 after Genesis 28:15. Jahve is his Keeper, He is his shade upon his right hand (היּמין as in Judges 20:16; 2 Samuel 20:9, and frequently; the construct state instead of an apposition, cf. e.g., Arab. jânbu 'l-grbı̂yi, the side of the western equals the western side), which protecting him and keeping him fresh and cool, covers him from the sun's burning heat. על, as in Psalm 109:6; Psalm 110:5, with the idea of an overshadowing that screens and spreads itself out over anything (cf. Numbers 14:9). To the figure of the shadow is appended the consolation in Psalm 121:6. הכּה of the sun signifies to smite injuriously (Isaiah 49:10), plants, so that they wither (Psalm 102:5), and the head (Jonah 4:8), so that symptoms of sun-stroke (2 Kings 4:19, Judith 8:2f.) appears. The transferring of the word of the moon is not zeugmatic. Even the moon's rays may become insupportable, may affect the eyes injuriously, and (more particularly in the equatorial regions) produce fatal inflammation of the brain.

(Note: Many expositors, nevertheless, understand the destructive influence of the moon meant here of the nightly cold, which is mentioned elsewhere in the same antithesis. Genesis 31:40; Jeremiah 36:30. De Sacy observes also: On dit quelquefois d'un grand froid, comme d'un grand chaud, qu'il est brulant. The Arabs also say of snow and of cold as of fire: jaḥrik, it burns.)

From the hurtful influences of nature that are round about him the promise extends in Psalm 121:7-8 in every direction. Jahve, says the poet to himself, will keep (guard) thee against all evil, of whatever kind it may be and whencesoever it may threaten; He will keep thy soul, and therefore thy life both inwardly and outwardly; He will keep (ישׁמר־, cf. on the other hand ישׁפּט־ in Psalm 9:9) thy going out and coming in, i.e., all thy business and intercourse of life (Deuteronomy 28:6, and frequently); for, as Chrysostom observes, ἐν τούτοις ὁ βίος ἅπας, ἐν εἰσόδοις καὶ ἐξόδοις, therefore: everywhere and at all times; and that from this time forth even for ever. In connection with this the thought is natural, that the life of him who stands under the so universal and unbounded protection of eternal love can suffer no injury.

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