This is a psalm of ascents, meaning that the faithful pilgrims living outside of Jerusalem would enter the city, literally walking uphill and continuing up to the temple mount. There they would worship God at the holy place. As they would spend the hours and/or days walking and anticipating the worship, the people would quote the several psalms of ascent together.
Within this psalm we are told that part of Israel’s decree in approaching the Lord is to give thanks. The Jews were to have an attitude of gratitude when they came to Jerusalem and the house of God. Each pilgrimage to Jerusalem was to have a marked expression of thanksgiving to God for giving them a place to worship and a land to dwell within.
I cannot help wondering if our current situation of attending church services would be much more appreciated and impactful if we took the mental and emotional posture of gratitude when approaching worship. Within my own church building there is a flight of stairs to ascend in reaching the sanctuary. Slowly up the stairs I can give thanks for one thing in each step. Even if you attend a church with a zero entry, you could still give thanks to God while walking from the parking lot to the building. The point is that worship of God is not to be approached idly without thought or intent. Just showing up and flopping down in a seat almost daring that the worship leaders and pastor bless them is very far from the imagination of the psalmist for approaching the sovereign God.
Mighty God, you have given me a place to live and to worship. I give thanks to you this day for your grace and saving actions through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.