Seeking the Peace of God

Today’s Reading: Psalm 122; SOAP:Psalm 122:8-9
Observation: For the Sake of Jerusalem

I have often quoted and/or prayed the first words of this passage, “I was glad because they said to me, ‘We will go to the [House] of the Lord.'” Yet, in all honesty, I confess the rest of this passage is unfamiliar to me or at least does not jump out to me as often read or ever studied. Take time to soak up all nine verses, they are beautiful and have a message of hope for all who belong to God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Read it, listen to the building excitement in David’s words in this “Psalm of Ascent”1, a call to worship, sang as the people of Israel traveled to Jerusalem. His obvious love for simply being in the city – comes out in the second verse when he declares: “Our feet are standing inside your gates, O Jerusalem.” Be careful not to miss how he focuses on the features of the city. He’s caught up with the temple (House of God) (v1,5,9), the gates (v2), the thrones (v5), the walls (defenses) (v7), and fortresses (v7). They have an affect on his life and he believes, as his words reveal, on all who are inside the city.

All of this leads to a prayer for Jerusalem, a concern for her, and the people and the leaders within, to know peace inside her walls and to rest in the security of such a great fortress. He prays this not just because he loves the temple-city of His God but, as he says, for the sake, or the concern, for his brothers and neighbors – not only that they would know peace but that there would be no contention among them that would destroy the city or distract them from being in the temple of their God; and the concern seems equally spent on “seeking Jerusalem’s good through prayer”2 I love this imagery, the people having an effect on the House of God – where they dwell, where they gather to worship, and where legal decisions are made; but also the House of God – and all that goes on or is within her, from the gates to the thrones and the security she provides – having an effect on the people. In other words we affect the ‘church’ and the ‘church’ affects us.

Application: So what’s it all mean?

As is clearly stated, Jerusalem was a place meant for God’s people to gather, to worship, and to make legal decisions. The “tribes”3 of families go “up” to Jerusalem, where they are required to give thanks (v4) to the name of the LORD, their God.

As I read through this part of the passage, I landed on the people being ‘required to give thanks to the name of the LORD and realized another beautiful truth to apply here – while we may no longer live under the requirements of the law – if thanksgiving was important to God then, and clearly it was – would it not also be important to Him now? After all, we live under the freedom of His grace, (Rom 6:14-15), which He lavished on us through the life, death, and resurrection of His only begotten Son, (Eph 1:3-8).

As for the application of our focus verses (8-9), we have already noted: the Psalmist prays acknowledging his desire/concern for his brothers and friends to enjoy peace within the walls of Jerusalem and then for the good of the “temple of God” to prosper or do good. It seems to me that David is seeking the welfare of both the local and the corporate aspects of God’s people – which I believe is a good indication that we, as a community of faith, both locally and globally, should share this same focus and purpose in prayer – a focus so intent on being in the Presence of God that we seek the good of the church and its people.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
May those who love her prosper.
May there be peace inside your defenses,
and prosperity inside your fortresses.
For the sake of my brothers and my neighbors
I will say, “May there be peace in you.”
For the sake of the temple of the Lord our God
I will pray for you to prosper.

Psalm 122:6-9
Prayer: Response to God’s Word

Father, how good you were to place Your people within “tribes” – developing families of nations and ultimately, the community of faith/church – Your people both locally and globally. Help us/me, like David, to faithfully seek peace and [good] for Your people and for the good of Your [House]. May we be glorifying and honoring influencers in the church, and may its influence leave a lasting impression on us that is a light to all we come in contact with. may I/we always enter with thanksgiving, not because we are required to but because we realize the blessing, privilege, and power that are ours because we belong to You. In the name and power of Jesus, so let it be!

1Love God Greatly from the God who restores, devotion-Day 2 (p. 38)
2FOOTNOTE on verse 9, from HCSB study Bible: tn Heb “I will seek good for you.” The psalmist will seek Jerusalem’s “good” through prayer.

3″Tribes” is a reference to the 12 tribes of Israel. The twelve tribes of Israel came from the twelve sons of Israel. “Israel” is the name that God gave Jacob (Genesis 32:28). His twelve sons are Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin (Genesis 35:23-26Exodus 1:1–41 Chronicles 2:1–2). When the tribes inherited the Promised Land, Levi’s descendants did not receive a territory for themselves (Joshua 13:14). Instead, they became priests and had several cities scattered throughout all of Israel. Joseph’s tribe was divided in two—Jacob had adopted Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, essentially giving Joseph a double portion for his faithfulness in saving the family from famine (Genesis 47:11–12). This means the tribes who received territory in the Promised Land were Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh. In some places in Scripture, the tribe of Ephraim is referred to as the tribe of Joseph (Numbers 1:32–33).

Your Turn: Reflections

Why/how are you praying for peace, prosperity, and security for God’s people today?

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