Today’s Bible reading is Psalm 122. It begins with those famous words, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD!'”
Not everybody in the Bible talked like that.
Amos 8 describes some who were making money by “trampling” on the poor. “When will the new moon be over,” they anxiously ask, “that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances?” They would be glad when they could get back to business. The real satisfaction would be found in money (or so they thought), even if it meant taking advantage of others.
Malachi 1 describes priests who, even as they offered token sacrifices to God, would say, “What a weariness this is.” They were offering blind, lame, and sick animals and snorting as they did so. Why? They would be glad when they had met their obligation to give an empty nod to God and could move on to more important things. The real satisfaction would be found in their own power and authority (or so they thought), even if it meant hypocritically despising the name of the LORD.
Proverbs 7 describes a temptress who seduces a naive young man. “I had to offer sacrifices,” she whispers, “and today I have paid my vows; so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you.” She is glad to have run through the necessary rituals to empty her sin bucket and now she is anxious to plunge right back into immorality. The real satisfaction will be found by indulging the lust of the flesh (or so she thinks, and invites this young man to think).
The packaging changes, but the same mirages will be chased by millions today. Gladness in money. Gladness in power. Gladness in lust. And tragically, enduring gladness will not be found by the masses.
Psalm 122 is a gentle nudge in a different direction. A better direction. The best direction. “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD!'” Why? His paths lead to real life. In his presence there is real joy. At his right hand are real pleasures. Forevermore.
If you want real, enduring gladness, his way is the way.