The Psalms for a New Day website has just been redesigned and the website has moved to a new location. The page you are looking for has moved. Try the link below:
Looking for content on a specific topic?

Psalm 122

For Jerusalem

God is committed to establishing peace in Jerusalem. But Jerusalem’s peace inheres in his people’s embodiment of his justice, mercy, and humility. Only thus will his city truly flourish under his hand.

A David song. A song of ascents.

I was glad when they said to me:
“Let’s go to Yahveh’s house.”
2 And now here we are
standing inside your gates, Jerusalem!
3 Jerusalem, a city built together
as one united whole.
4 Israel’s tribes ascend to it—
the tribes belonging to Yahveh—
to extol Yahveh’s name there
as Israel’s law requires.
5 It’s where thrones for judgment stand
the thrones of David’s royal house.

6 Pray for Jerusalem’s peace.
May all who love you flourish!
7 May there be peace within your walls
and security inside your citadels!
8 For my family and friends’ sake
I say, “May you know peace!”
9 Because the house of Yahveh our God is here
I will seek your good.

Believing Jerusalem’s peace is all-important, many today see this psalm as an urgent call to do all they can to bolster modern-day Israel’s anti-Palestinian policies through prayer and financial support. They fear anything less would put them in opposition to God.

But this is all backwards. David rejoices in Jerusalem as the site of God’s temple and his own divinely established throne,[1] signifying God’s presence in and just rule over the world. That’s what excites him about Jerusalem. He longs for Jerusalem’s peace because he knows the city has always had enemies inside it—like his son Absalom—whose injustice make the city’s peace and well-being impossible. God’s prophets repeatedly decried such evil.

David celebrates Jerusalem as a city united by God, not pursuing a merely ethnic or national cause. Its tribes are united in their devotion to the God they worship, the God of justice, mercy, and humility. Disregarding his law’s moral imperatives can’t possibly lead to peace or well-being for Jerusalem or any other place on earth. Praying for Jerusalem’s peace today means praying its people will accept God’s Messiah and make the kind of moral choices that produce lasting peace. Praying for this is always right because it aligns us with God’s eternal purposes for his world.

Jesus, you wept over your people’s failure to see that they needed to receive you and embrace the values of your house to gain true peace. They thought they just needed to throw the Romans out. You weep still today. Forgive us, Lord. And may all who seek Jerusalem’s true peace prosper! Amen.

During your free moments today, meditate on these words:

Pray for Jerusalem’s peace.
May all who love you prosper!


[1] The psalm’s chiastic structure makes David’s dynasty the focal point: vv. 1-2 (A) the psalmist, his companions, and Yahveh’s house, vv. 3-4 (B) Jerusalem, v. 5 (C) David’s house, vv. 6-7 (B) Jerusalem, vv. 8-9 (A) the psalmist, his companions, and Yahveh’s house. So in New Testament terms, the psalm’s focus is on the Messiah.

Why Yahveh?

Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and occasionally transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Modern translations, likewise, either translate or transliterate it. While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it is more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. I’ve chosen to transliterate it to root it more firmly in the biblical story as the name—meaning the “self-existent One”—that God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. This name set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it in order better to hallow it. In transliterating it, I follow the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard. He advocated transliterating it as Yahveh—pronounced yah·vay—arguing that following the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish than Yahweh.
May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Robert Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.