Rejoicing in Jerusalem
(H) A Song of Ascents. Of David. (1) I rejoiced when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of Yahweh.” (2) Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem. (3) Jerusalem (is) built as a city that is joined firmly together in unity. (4) There the tribes, the tribes of Yahweh, go up (according to) the testimony (given) to Israel to give thanks to the name of Yahweh, (5) for there thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David. (6) Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May those who love you be secure. (7) May peace be within your ramparts and security within your citadels. (8) For the sake of my brothers and my friends I will say, “May peace be within you.” (9) For the sake of the house of Yahweh our God I will seek your good.
Numerous repetitions are scattered through this, the third of the Psalms of Ascent, a passage that describes the pilgrims’ thrill and excitement upon finally reaching their destination. “Jerusalem” occurs three times (vss. 2, 3, & 6). “The tribes” and “Yahweh” are repeated in the same verse (vs. 4). “There,” referring to Jerusalem, is found twice (vss. 4 & 5). “Thrones” is used twice (vs. 5). “Peace” occurs four times (vss. 6-8). We find “secure/security” repeated (vss. 6 & 7) as well as “the house of Yahweh” (in both vss. 1 & 9, the opening and closing verses of the psalm). This is truly a Zion-centered passage.
I. Rejoicing in Jerusalem (1-5)
II. Interceding for Jerusalem (6-9)
God’s choice of Jerusalem as his dwelling place established the City of David as Israel’s center for worship as well as a place needing her intercession.
At the heart of this psalm lies the exhortation, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (vs. 6). While these words were originally sung by pilgrims traveling long distances to worship at the temple, they have become a general exhortation to encourage the faithful never to forget to intercede for the city which God established as the center for Israel’s worship and the capitol of his earthly kingdom.
Ironically, few locations on earth have experienced more warfare and less peace than Jerusalem. The City of David was first sacked and its temple destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 B.C. Resettled under Ezra and Nehemiah, the city once again served as the capital of the nation with a rebuilt temple much less magnificent than the original. Just before the birth of Christ, King Herod the Great (73-4 BC) erected another magnificent temple in an effort to restore the glory of Solomon’s original place of worship. However, in AD 70, the Romans, like the Babylonians, besieged and sacked the city, completely destroying the temple. Since that time, Jerusalem has been a place of unceasing conflict. Christians and Muslims have battled to gain dominance ever since. At the present time, three world religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) and two nations (Israel and Palestine) lay claim to Jerusalem. The divided city remains at the very heart of the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Many fear that this struggle has the potential to ignite a cataclysmic, world-wide conflict at any moment.
The prophecies anticipating the second coming of Messiah in Daniel, Matthew, and the Revelation make it clear that City of David will experience peace only when God’s Son returns to establish his universal rule. Praying for the peace of Jerusalem is tantamount to praying, “Amen. Even so come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20 in the KJV). In such prayers we express our earnest desire that Christ will soon restore his “shalom” to a location that has known nothing but strife and bloodshed for many centuries.