Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May those who love you be secure. Psalm 122:6

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

When God's word exhorts us to "Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem", we need to take note.

But what does it mean?


Should we just pray that the latest political "peace process" will succeed and that the Jews and Arabs will all stop fighting each other?

Should we pray that Israel's Prime Minister will give the Palestinian leaders all that they ask for so that they stops their people attacking Israelis.  

Do we think Jerusalem should be handed over to the Palestinians and that they will then allow free access for Jews and Christians?

Do we assume that they will not then start pushing for more and pursue the destruction of Israel and the driving out of the Jews?

How do we reconcile praying for peace with the events that appear to be moving towards fulfilment of the prophecies of conflict and suffering, and the nations coming  against Jerusalem to fight against it?      ( see also Israel in Today's World page )

Perhaps we should look at the Psalm 122,  from which this exhortation comes.  

This is a song of ascents, by David.   A song to be sung by pilgrims going up to Jerusalem  for one of the feasts.   It starts,

"I rejoiced with those who said to me,

'Let us go to the house of the LORD'.

Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem."

This was written after David had secured the kingdom and Jerusalem had been established as the place where the God of Israel made contact with mankind, through his people Israel.   (Remember his promise to Abraham, that through his descendants all the nations of the earth would be blessed)

David says that Jerusalem is where the tribes go up to worship and where thrones for judgment stand and then comes to verses six and seven,

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

"May those who love you be secure.

May there be peace within your walls

and security within your citadels."

We need to remember that the Hebrew word that we have as "peace" is actually  "Shalom", which means much more that our understanding of peace.   Shalom is a wholeness and well-being in the sense of everything working together smoothly, particularly in the sense of being at one with God.    Jerusalem was established after all David's warfare and was not troubled militarily, but the need  for keeping in step with the LORD was always a matter for the prayers of the faithful.

Jerusalem is still the city special to God, from which he seeks to bless all mankind.   If you go to Jerusalem you will find yourself in a city which is in as great a need of God's Shalom as any other city.   People are trying to be like the people of the other nations and have all the same evils, stresses and hang-ups.   Secular Jews are seeking secular solutions and Muslims are seeking the pre-eminence of a different god.

There is another problem with the oft repeated exhortation to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem".   The Hebrew text actually says, "Shalu Shlom Yerushalayim", which as Ramon Bennett explains in "Saga" actually means something more like, "Say Hello to Jerusalem for me".   This would be said to pilgrims going up to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage feasts, by those they passed in the villages who were not themselves going up.  

(   this is the only occasion in scripture when shalu is translated as pray - Sha-al is salute, greet, enquire, while pray is (83 times) palal.   Shalom is the standard Jewish greeting or salutation, equivalent to Hello but concerned with the total well-being of the person being greeted.)

We certainly need to pray for the Shalom of Jerusalem, but we need to pray through all its implications.   Considering the prophecies yet to be fulfilled of the nations coming against Jerusalem  and all the bloodshed involved before the Messiah stands on the Mount of Olives, our prayers should perhaps be in terms of saving sinners from out of the world, preserving God's people and "Even so come, Lord Jesus."  (end of Revelation)

Perhaps Isaiah  provides a better guide to praying about Jerusalem according to God's own heart. Isaiah 62 v6-7,   

"I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem;  they will never be silent day or night.   You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.

What does it mean, "till he establishes Jerusalem" ?   Surely it means to establish His kingdom there.  And this means Yeshua's Messianic Kingdom.  If we are Christian Zionists, seeking God's purposes for Israel, we need to inform our prayer with a proper understanding of God's Kingdom purposes.          See Biblical Christian Zionism and Post Zionism


Updated 12/05/08

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