Nearly every commentator believes the Psalms of Ascents (120-134) were psalms sung by families as they made their way up the hill (ascending) to Jerusalem to worship on the feast days, especially the agricultural feast days of Passover, Tabernacles, and Weeks. As such you see in your mind’s eye the extended family of parents, children, grandparents, and perhaps maiden aunts or other singles stepping out to the tune of these psalms, year after year, a tradition kept by every generation. This particular psalm is a picture of the life that family leads the rest of the year, another routine that some might even consider dull but which God calls blessed.
The father works, but the implication is not one of a career-minded workaholic. This man labors for his family, to provide those meals they meet around the table to eat together and the sacrifices they are able to make on their annual pilgrimages.
The mother is “a fruitful vine within the house.” That does not mean she never steps outside the door—it means she, too, is family-oriented. Like the ideal woman of Proverbs 31, caring for her family may force her to leave the home occasionally, but she is the direct opposite of that other woman in Proverbs: She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home; now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait, Prov 7:11-12.
This blessed family meets at the table every evening and has their meal together. And several times a year they make that journey to Jerusalem, to God’s Temple, to the assembled worship prescribed by the Law. When I think about this family, I think of my childhood. Every Sunday we had a routine. We rose, ate breakfast together, and then dressed to go meet with the saints. No one ever asked where we would be or what we would do on Sunday. We all knew exactly where we would be and what we would be doing.
When I raised my family, the same thing happened. Maybe the routine was a little different, but it was a routine. My boys never had to ask what or where. They knew.
And now I watch my son and his family doing the same thing. It may be a different routine, but it leads them to the same place—a meeting with the people of God.
A lot of people think that routine is useless, that since it is so much routine it no longer has any meaning. But consider this for one minute. What if we had to do this in secret? What if the church had been bankrupted because of its beliefs, its leaders fined or even jailed, and our only recourse was to go “underground?” This country is fast moving in that direction. These things may not happen in our lifetimes, but our children or grandchildren will almost certainly face them. I know God has a plan, but His plans have not always meant that none of His people suffered or even died.
What you look at with disdain today may sometime in the future be a distant memory of how well we had it. Of families that could meet every Sunday in a place they had pooled their resources to buy, with a sign on the side of the road that proclaimed who we are and what we were doing: Christians meet here.
Suddenly, the routine you consider boring and unmeaningful will be the thing you wish you had appreciated far more when you had it. Think about that and appreciate it like you ought to today.
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!” Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem! Jerusalem— built as a city that is bound firmly together, to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD. There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you! Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!” For my brothers and companions' sake I will say, “Peace be within you!” For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good, Psalm 122