For thousands of years Jews and Christians have made pilgrimages to Jerusalem. It is easy to understand why. Jerusalem plays a central role in both the Old and New Testaments. It is the place where Abraham was called to sacrifice Isaac, where David brought the ark of the covenant, where the Temple was built, where Jesus was crucified, and where Pentecost took place. In the Old Testament it was the place where God chose to dwell (Deut. 12:4–5; Ps. 135:21).
Three times a year, Israelites were to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship at the Temple. These times were a high point in their lives, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD.” (v. 1). To become close to the presence of the Lord was a privilege and a joy. Part of the reason for Israel’s joy was the unity brought by worshiping together. David describes Jerusalem as a city “closely compacted together” (v. 3). That might sound like urban congestion to us, but it was a positive image for him. God’s people were united in Jerusalem to “praise the name of the LORD” in obedience to His Word (v. 4).
The psalm ends with a prayer for peace. This is a play on the name “Jerusalem,” which means “city of peace.” Peace in Hebrew means more than just the absence of conflict. It is a rich concept that means things are the way they should be. Our relationship with God, one another, and the world is as it was designed to be. It is a prayer for wholeness, abundance, and integrity.
>> Are you longing for a fresh infusion of hope? This psalm looks forward to a time when all things will be made new. We will be in the very presence of God in the New Jerusalem and there will be “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Rev. 21:4). Amen, come Lord Jesus.
Today we pray for Your blessing on the modern city of Jerusalem; may Your will be done in the Holy Land. We rejoice in the promise of the New Jerusalem, from which we draw hope!