by David McMillan
(This address was given
at an S. G.A. T meeting on 28th
Let me in particular draw your attention to the 6th verse of this Psalm 122, which reads Pray for
the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. This
verse brings the name Jerusalem very clearly to our attention. There is a school of interpretation and when
they read an Old Testament text such as this, they claim the words solely and
entirely for the church. They say that
nothing else can be done with these words; nothing else can be done with such a
text, but spiritualise it and apply it to the church. Now there is no question that we can justly
take these words and apply them to the church, but firstly and foremostly, the
words of this text (and others like it) are to be taken literally to speak of
the actual city of Jerusalem.
Let me prove that to you because you cannot read
this psalm aright, and you cannot read the 6th
verse of the psalm in the context of the psalm, without realising the
fact that it is the literal city of Jerusalem that is
spoken of here. Look carefully at the
opening words of verse 3. It
says Jerusalem is builded as a city. Nothing could be clearer than that. Those words on their own leave us in no doubt
that we are reading here of literal Jerusalem. It is not referring to Jerusalem as a type or as a figure. The psalmist is not referring to the church
or to heaven. It is so clearly stated
that even a child can understand. It is
the city of Jerusalem
that is in view in these verses.
And notice how strongly that fact is backed up
in the other verses, because throughout this psalm, there is listed quite a
number of features of the actual city of Jerusalem. This is a city with walls. Peace be within thy
7). It is also a place with
gates. Our feet shall stand
within thy gates O Jerusalem
(verse 2). It is builded; it is a place
that has been constructed. And we are
given a description of the layout of the city, a description of the manner in
which Jerusalem has been constructed Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together. Anyone
who is familiar with the city of Jerusalem
will know that is the case. There is not
much space wasted in the literal city of Jerusalem.
The first and the last verses of the psalm speak
of the house of the LORD. The city spoken of in this
psalm is where the temple
of God stands. Verse 4
mentions that the testimony of Israel
(or the ark of the covenant) is also found in this place. Verse 4
again provides us with the information that this is the place where the tribes
go up. Those words go up have their root in the original language from
which the word degree is taken. And this
psalm is one of the songs of degrees. So
this psalm has to do with the going up of the tribes of Israel. It has to do with the place to which those
tribes went up, and surely they do not want to tell us that the tribes went up
to the church! Surely they do not want
to make such a ridiculous statement as that!
So taking all these things together and looking
at these words in their context, when we come to verse
6, we are left in no doubt that it is the capital city of Israel
about which we are reading in these verses.
I believe for our study that it is vital that that fact is made clear.
Having laid that foundation let me ask you to
note carefully what the psalmist is pointing out to us here about the city of Jerusalem. He is drawing our attention to something
specific about the condition of Jerusalem. He is emphasising a particular characteristic
in connection with this city. In verse 6 he speaks of the peace of Jerusalem. From Psalm
120 to Psalm 134, we have that group
of Psalms known as the Songs of Degrees.
And in those 15 psalms the term peace is
used on 7 occasions. And 3 of those
usages are found in this 122nd Psalm. So there is no doubt that this is a psalm
that emphasises peace, the peace of Jerusalem.
At a time when so-called peace talks in the
Middle East are so prominent, when they are so much to the fore in the news, in
the week that President Clinton actually sat in Jerusalem talking peace with
the Israeli prime minister, is it not providential that at such a time we are
found in Gods house considering what the Scriptures have to say about the
peace of Jerusalem? I say it is very
providential indeed. So let us consider
1. The Certainty of the
Peace of Jerusalem
There may be those in this world who doubt
will ever experience peace, but we have news for them. There
is going to be peace in that city. That
is certain. It is something that is
beyond all question, beyond all doubt.
In verse 6, God directs us to pray for peace in Jerusalem.
Do you think God would ask us to pray for something that He is not going
to give? Do you think God would ask us
to request something that would not take place? The fact that we are directed to ask for
peace in Jerusalem
indicates to us that it is something which is certain and beyond question.
Jerusalem means the habitation or the inheritance of peace. Down
through history, Jerusalem
has inherited many things, but to this day, it has never inherited peace. Jerusalem
has been the habitation of many things, but to this day, it has never been
inhabited by peace. There is no place on
earth in which there is less peace than the city of Jerusalem.
Through past centuries Jerusalem
has been a stranger to this very thing.
Yet Gods Word clearly emphasises that Jerusalem will inherit peace. Jerusalem will be inhabited by peace.
Isaiah 66:12, speaking of the city
says, For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I
will extend peace to her like a river. It
is certain. There is no doubt about
it. Men may laugh and mock when we talk
of peace in that city, but God says (so it is certain), I will
extend peace to her like a river.
2. The Extent of the
Peace of Jerusalem
To what extent will Jerusalem experience peace? What sort of peace will Jerusalem have? Verse 6
says, Pray for the peace. As I have
said, that word is used on 3 occasions in this psalm - verses
6, 7 and 8. It is the Hebrew word Shalom. It is
a word that has a very wide usage among Jewish people even today. It is a word that denotes harmony,
prosperity, comfort and happiness. It
means the absence of all evil and the enjoyment of all good. That is the extent of peace that God will
give to Jerusalem.
Many years ago a gospel tract entitled Safety, Certainty,
and Enjoyment was printed.
And I believe that there are no words, other than these three, that can
better sum up the meaning of shalom. Jerusalem
is to experience safety, certainty and
Isaiah 11: 13 tells us The envy also of Ephraim shall depart and the adversaries of Judah
shall be cut off. Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim. In
the past, Israel
was a nation divided into two kingdoms.
In those days Jerusalem
was at enmity with her northern counterpart.
But here we are told that there will be peace in Israel, between north and south -
the enmity will be gone for ever.
Also, that the
adversaries of Judah
shall be cut off in that day - they will be taken away. Verse 9 of
the same chapter, when speaking of the asp and the cockatrice, says They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain. The
words My holy mountain are clearly speaking of Jerusalem. So, we learn that nature itself will be at
peace in Jerusalem.
There will be safety, certainty and enjoyment in Jerusalem even with dangerous creatures.
There is going to be
such a transformation that there will be no danger for children who will be
playing in the streets of Jerusalem.
There will be such peace between man and
creatures that children will play with the asp and with the cockatrice in the
city. Zechariah 8: 5 tells us concerning Jerusalem, And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof, playing happily without a care or
concern, in absolute safety and security.
And the verse that follows indicates that that is to be something that
will be surprising. But such will be the
peace, such will be the change in Jerusalem
that there will be no danger to the children playing there.
18 tells us
Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor
destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and
thy gates Praise. What a day that will be! Today, there is much violence, much wasting,
much destruction in Jerusalem, and there has
been over the centuries, but there will be such a peace in Jerusalem
that violence, wasting, and destruction will be gone from its streets for ever.
us, But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create:
for, behold, I create Jerusalem
a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I
will rejoice in Jerusalem,
and joy in My people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. Jerusalem
has often been associated with weeping.
Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, wept over the city. The Lord Jesus stood on the Mount
of olives and wept over that city.
There are many references in the Scriptures to weeping in Jerusalem. There is much weeping in that city even
today. Weeping is something that
indicates sorrow, grief, mourning. When
there is weeping there is no peace but
such will be the peace that God will bring to that city that there will be no
more weeping there.
2 Samuel 7 is a key prophetical
chapter. In verse
10, the whole land is in view, but undoubtedly Jerusalem is included in the words and in the
promise. God says, Moreover
I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may
dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of
wickedness afflict them any more, as before time. Israel is going
to be so planted and so fixed in the land, that they will never be moved from
it again. Israel are going to dwell so
securely that they are never going to be afflicted, never going to be
attacked. They are never again going to
be caused trouble by wicked men. Jerusalem will never
again be demolished and brought to ruins.
Did you notice the comparison at the end of the verse? The Lord says as before
history, many times they have been rooted out of their land; they have been
afflicted over and over again. The book
of Judges gives a glimpse of that very fact. But such will be the extent of the
peace which God will bring to that land that Israel will dwell in safety,
certainty and security in the land.
The references given are
by no means exhaustive, but they supply us with an indication of what is to
come for that great city. When the world
leaders talk of peace for Jerusalem,
it can only be a peace that is fragile and uncertain. It can only be a peace about which we will
have a doubt, one that will always have a shadow of uncertainty. It is not a peace which can be guaranteed,
that can be permanent. It will be one
that will have to be enforced by peace lines and peace-keeping forces. That is the only sort of peace of which the
world leaders can speak when they talk about peace for Jerusalem.
In reality it is only a shadow of the peace that will come to that city
for the Scriptures teach that Jerusalem
will experience something that is beyond the greatest hopes and expectations of
these men. It is something that will
even be beyond their wildest dreams.
Such is the peace that God will bring to Jerusalem.
3. The Time of the Peace
When will Jerusalem
experience this peace? There are those
who want to dismiss the relevance of the words of this psalm to us and our
day. They say it does not apply to us. They tell us that this promise was fulfilled
in the days of Solomon; that the peace for which David is exhorting us to pray
came to Jerusalem
in its entirety during Solomons reign.
But did the extent of the peace that Jerusalem will experience happen then? Was there no destruction, no violence in
Solomons day? Was there no weeping in
the city when Solomon was on the throne?
planted at that time so as to move no more?
The answer is clearly No!
That promise that God gave in 2 Samuel 7:10 about Israel being planted so as to be
moved no more, was given at approximately 1000 years before Christ. And that same promise is repeated in Amos 9: 15, about 250 years later. Also, on a third occasion in Jeremiah 31: 40, in approximately 587B.C. Now in between 1000B.C. and 587B.C. the ten
tribes were rooted out of the land and carried off. One year later, in 586B.C., Jerusalem was rased to the ground, and the
Jews carried off into captivity. In
A.D.70, history repeated itself when the very same thing took place. So, the promise was not fulfilled in
Solomons day. The fact that it has been
repeated is proof to us that that promise is still to be fulfilled. In fact, it has not been fulfilled to this
very day. All those prophecies have yet
a future fulfilment.
But the question is, when are they to be fulfilled? The
Lord Jesus Himself gives us the answer, in the words that He spoke in Luke 21: 24. He said And Jerusalem shall be trodden
down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. Jerusalem will be a place
of unrest, devoid of peace, until when? until the times of
the Gentiles be fulfilled. We are at present in the times of the
Gentiles, when Gentile power, Gentile rulers, Gentile nations hold sway in this
world. We live in the time when Jerusalem is trodden
under foot of the Gentiles.
Daniel 2 teaches us that that
time began in the days of King
Nebuchadnezzar and it will continue
until the time when Jesus Christ will come and set up His [millennial] kingdom
upon this earth. The times of the
Gentiles will end when Jesus Christ returns. So the peace of Jerusalem
will take place when Jesus Christ comes, when He has set up His millennial
kingdom upon this earth, and when He
is literally reigning and ruling in the city of Jerusalem.
Sin and war shall not cease till the Prince of
Peace comes back to this world again. Of
reign upon this earth, the psalmist, in Psalm 72: 7,
said In His days shall the righteous
flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. In
His days, during Christs reign,
this peace will come to the city of Jerusalem.
4. Our Responsibility
Towards the Peace of Jerusalem
We have, as Gods people, a vital responsibility
that we must fulfil in order to bring peace to this city. David sets that responsibility before us when
he says Pray
for the peace of Jerusalem.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to go to
the land of Israel.
I went with a tour leader who was a very ardent post-millennialist. And a very strange thing was, that on all his
literature and on all the badges and name tags that he gave out, he had this
phrase Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. And
yet he did not believe that Jerusalem
literally would have peace! I thought
that a very strange thing indeed.
says to us, Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We may have the idea that
all we have to do with regard to prophetic matters is to understand from Gods
Word what we are to expect, to find out from the Scriptures what is actually
going to happen, and then sit back and wait until it happens. But here we learn that we have a part to play in the fulfilment of Gods prophetic plan. You and I have a responsibility towards
Gods prophetic purposes, a part in bringing peace to the troubled city of Jerusalem, because we
have a responsibility to pray for it.
When Daniel read in the book of Jererniah and
meditated upon the Scriptures, he learned that Jerusalem would be desolate for 70 years, and
then the Jews would return to the land.
What did Daniel do when he learned that fact, when he understood the
time of the captivity was almost up? Did
he just sit down and rejoice in it, wait till it happened? This is what he did I set my
face unto the Lord God to seek by prayer and supplications (Daniel 9: 3).
On the basis of what God had said, Daniel pleaded the promises at the
Throne of Grace.
As we sit in this meeting, the leaders of all
the prominent nations of the western world are searching for the key for peace in the Middle East. All
the experienced diplomats, the senior ambassadors of these great nations, are
trying to find the formula for bringing peace to Jerusalem.
They have searched hard. They
have searched long. And they have
searched in vain. Yet, in these very
words that are before us, God has given
you and I the key. God has given us
the answer to the troubles in the Middle East. God has revealed to us the way to bring peace
to Jerusalem. We are to pray for it.
And God has even given us the very prayer that
we are to offer. He says Peace be within thy
walls and prosperity within thy palaces (verse 7); Peace be within thee
If you have an interest in prospering in the things of God, then
you [and I]
ought to have a love for Jerusalem. You ought to have a love for its peace, and you ought to be praying
for its peace.
In 1917, in the latter part of December, Jerusalem was besieged by
a part of the British Army. The Turks
were inside the city, occupying it, and they refused to surrender. The man in command of the British troops was General Allenby, and he could have
bombed the Turks out. He could have
demolished the place and killed every man in it. But he was a Christian and he did not want to
take life unnecessarily. And he had a
love for that city and he did not want to destroy it unless it was completely
necessary. So he sent a telegram to the
prime minister asking him what to do. He
did not receive an answer from the prime minister. The reply came from the king, who sent the
message consult your Master. In other words, pray about it.
Brethren and sisters, we look out at the capital
city of Israel,
with all its bloodshed and violence, with all its bombings and shootings, with
all its troubles and unrest, with all its destruction. And we wonder what can be done for that
city. What can we do? God is saying to us, pray for it, pray for Jerusalem, and for its
peace. In closing, I urge the opening
words of that 6th verse upon you,
pray for the peace of Jerusalem. If
this peace has not yet come, and it is clear that it has not, then we have a
responsibility before God to obey this command today. Take Jerusalem
upon your heart and pray for its peace.
[P.S. When we pray for the
peace of Jerusalem,
we are praying for the return of Jesus the Messiah and the establishment of His