The Secret of Peace and Prosperity
Mr. Jerry Clark of Morrison, Tenn., continues to provide us with practical instruction in this the third of his series of fifteen articles on a group of Psalms called “Songs of Ascents.”
A song of the “goings-up” of David:
1. I was glad in those saying to me, to the house of the LORD we will go.
2. Standing have been our feet in your gates, O Jerusalem!
3. Jerusalem — the builded one —is a city which is joined to itself together,
4. To there have gone up the tribes, the tribes of the LORD, a testimony to Israel, to give thanks unto the Name of the LORD.
5. For there are set thrones for justice, thrones for the house of David.
6. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, the ones loving you shall prosper.
7. Peace shall be in your wall of defense, prosperity in your courts.
8. For the sake of my brethren and my friends, I will even now say, Peace within you!
9. For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek good for you.
This psalm is pre-eminently the psalm of Jerusalem. Only one other psalm (Psa. 137) mentions Jerusalem as often as does this one. As originally composed, this psalm probably referred to the injunction to go up to Jerusalem to worship, as introduced during the reign of David (1 Chron. 15:1-3); as used by Hezekiah, it may have had reference to his great Passover Feast for “all Israel” (2 Chron. 30:1); during the Millennial Age, the psalm will no doubt have a final fulfilment (see Isa. 2:1-3); but for Christians today, important principles still apply when we realize that Jerusalem — as the national and religious centre of Israel — represented all God’s people at that time. We can apply this psalm to “Jerusalem which is above” (Gal. 4:26) or, in a more practical sense, to the entire assembly of believers, the Body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23).
Preference for Jerusalem (122:1)
“We are not alone” is a phrase popularized by modern science fiction and fantasy writers. For the Christian, a significant stage in his spiritual growth (“going-up”) occurs when he realizes that he, too, is “not alone.” He finds that he has a relation not only to God, but to other believers as well. In addition, he discovers that his own spiritual state is vitally connected to the spiritual condition of God’s people as a whole.
This psalm explores the connection between the believer individually and other believers collectively, and its effect on the spiritual lives of all concerned.
The secret of spiritual prosperity is contained in the key verse: “The ones loving (Jerusalem) shall prosper” (v. 6). The entire psalm amplifies this idea by illustrating what love really means. Love (Heb. ‘ahab), like its New Testament counterpart agapao, means basically to desire and seek someone’s highest good. The first illustration of “loving” Jerusalem is to prefer the good of Jerusalem. The psalmist delights in Jerusalem (cf. Psa. 137:5-6), is joyful at the thought of going there. When absent, his thoughts turn invariably to the city of peace. Why was Jerusalem superior to all other places? Because the house of the LORD was there —the Temple which indicated the presence of the LORD in the midst of His people.
The cities of the “world” may offer more wealth, more glamour, more spectacle and pleasure than the city of “peace” (cf. - Cor. 1:26-29), but the true believer can never be satisfied with anything less than God’s own presence.
Praise for Jerusalem (122:2-5)
The psalmist also praises the city: Jerusalem is a “city joined to itself together” (v. 3), that is, a city of unity, a place where God’s people are united around His presence. Jerusalem also provides a visible testimony to Israel’s unity and the LORD’s sovereignty and an opportunity to publicly “give thanks” to the LORD (v. 4). In addition, Jerusalem is the centre of justice (where there is no difference between rich or poor, bond or free, but all are “one” in the LORD) and disciples (which is, of course, necessary among God’s people in order to maintain the purity of the testimony) (v. 5).
The tenses in this psalm have been a source of confusion to translators and expositors. In some instances, the writer seems to be anticipating Jerusalem, in other cases actually experiencing it. In addition, he sees Jerusalem in an ideal state in which it has never actually existed. The solution, of course, is that he sees by faith rather than by sight. We, too, by faith appropriate blessings and enjoy an inheritance which is ours in Christ but is not actually manifested in the physical realm as yet (cf. Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1; 1 John 3:2).
The psalmist praises Jerusalem because he sees by faith that one day she will be the city of Peace and Truth and Righteousness (cf. Isa. 1:26; Zech. 8:3). Similarly, Christians today are in a visible state of weakness with little apparent strength (Rev. 3:8), but by faith we see the realization of God’s purposes, when she (the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ) will be presented before His presence “holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27), and even now we praise God for the glory which He has given her in His sight (Rom. 8:30).
Prayer for Jerusalem (122:6-9)
The psalmist not only prefers Jerusalem with his heart, and praises Jerusalem with his lips, he actively seeks her good, through prayer (v. 6) and hard work (v. 9). The peace and unity of God’s people is a gift of the Spirit, but a gift which must be developed and maintained through effort (cf. Eph. 4:3).
The late Dr. M. R. DeHaan has pointed out that, in the purely physical sense, ‘The key to lasting peace is the land of Israel and the Israel of the land. When Jerusalem is at peace, the world will be at peace” (The Jews and Palestine in Prophecy).
It is also true that peace and prosperity will never come to any individual Christian who is unconcerned about the spiritual state of the Body of Believers as a whole. “Selfish” Christianity — where individuals are concerned only about blessings for themselves — is a contradiction in terms and a spiritual impossibility. “Men need always to be encouraged to pray for the rest of the people of God,” remarks H. C. Leupold (Exposition of the Psalms).
This psalm pictorially illustrates Christ’s revelation of the relation of His people to Himself and to each other in Matthew 18:20. Jerusalem was to be “preferred, praised and prayed for” because the Temple was there and the Temple was special because the LORD was there. In the same way, Christ is the centre around which we gather and, like spokes on a wheel, the closer we get to the centre, the closer we will get to each other. Only by a true understanding of this basic principle —and practical realization of it in our own lives — will we ever have any real “peace and prosperity” in this life.