Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Psalm 122 celebrates the excitement of a pilgrim entering Jerusalem. The pilgrim rejoices in the majesty and tranquility of the city, and looks forward to worshipping at the magnificent temple.
When Psalm 122 was written, Jerusalem was the capital of southern Israel, ruled by the house of David, home to the temple where God’s special presence resided. To a pilgrim, Jerusalem symbolized everything that was good–safety and security, political stability, just laws applied justly, and worship at God’s temple.
The name Jerusalem means city of shalom, that is, city of peace and well-being. But its history tells a different story. King David conquered Jerusalem from the Jebusites (1 Chron 11:4-5), launching a three-thousand-year history of national and international violence. David’s son Absalom staged a coup against King David. His grandson Rehoboam implemented policies that split the kingdom. And so the story goes, until David’s line of kings failed when Babylon sacked Jerusalem. And then the city fell again and again: Persia, Greece, Rome, Arabia, the Crusaders, and the Ottoman Turks. Israeli democracy today continues the problems: internal strife, and ongoing violence in Palestine, Iran, and Syria. Where is the peace of Jerusalem?
Our father, with the poet we say,
I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
Our feet are standing
in your gates, Jerusalem (vv. 1-2).
The psalm reminds us of glad times when we experienced your presence in church or conferences, when you revealed yourself in preaching, sacraments, and worship music.
But the poet’s joy in Jerusalem reminds us how transient such experiences may be. When has Jerusalem lived up to its name: city of peace and well-being? Even Jesus cried, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill prophets and stone those sent to you. I have longed to gather your children as a hen gathers her chicks, but you were not willing” (Mat. 23:37).
The poet urges us to pray for the shalom of Jeru-shalom, saying:
Pray of the peace of Jerusalem:
May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security with your citadels” (v. 7).
Yes, Lord, in our transient lives, we look for a city of peace. In our dangerous world, we want a place of security . . . in our conflicted world we look for community . . . in our unstable world we look for a firm foundation. O Lord, help us be instruments of your peace. Help us to create:
peace in our families,
harmony and good works in our churches,
neighborliness in our communities,
righteousness in our cities.
O Lord, help us fulfill the promise of Jerusalem, to build a city of peace in a war-torn world, a temple of worship in a civilization of idolatry, a place of truth in a world of lies. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.
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