Jerusalem – A “To the Jew First” Prayer Priority
King David wrote in Psalm 122:6, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; may they prosper who love you.” In the compact language of Hebrew, it’s only five words: “Sha’alu shalom Yerushalayim yishlayu ohavaich.” Each of these words gives vital truths.
We are Commanded by God’s Precept
The word “pray” (sha’alu in Psalm 122:6 is in the imperative; in other words, it is a command. God’s commands demonstrate His values for His people, who are to share in those values. We are a people of conviction and character because we have God’s priorities and values as the basis for our lives. And we are people of integrity as we live out the truth of His word and “observe all that He commanded” (Matthew 28:20).
Our prayer life reveals to us whether we identify with His priorities. To pray for the peace of Jerusalem is to identify with God’s heart. The commands of the Holy One are the convictions of the saints.
We are Concerned about God’s People
We should share God’s concern for the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:6). This concern of God is seen in two of the words used in Psalm 122:6. The Hebrew word sha’alu refers not merely to prayer in general but to “intercede,” or “to ask for, to inquire of, to seek after.” We inquire about those things that concern us. When your child is sick, how often do you ask the doctor about his condition? Often. God wants you to share in His concern for Jerusalem as well.
Notice the two parallel thoughts in that one verse: “Pray (intercede) for the peace of Jerusalem” parallels “may they prosper who love you (ohavayich)”. Those that love, pray. Why would I pray for my sons while away from home? Because I love them. We pray because as intercessors we share God’s loving concern for the lost.
We are Committed to God’s Program
Isn’t it interesting that in this verse, God doesn’t command prayer for the larger cities of Rome, Athens, Nineveh, or Babylon. Why? Not because He lacks concern for other places. Rather, God’s redemptive strategy is anchored in Jerusalem (John 4:22, “for salvation is of the Jews”). God’s New Covenant redemption was to have its “beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47) and its closure upon Messiah’s return to Jerusalem (Zech. 14:4). Messiah states that the return of Messiah is dependent upon the repentance of Israel: “For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord’” (Matt. 23:39).
Therefore, we pray because we share God’s perspective on His plan for bringing about repentance, whether past present, or future.
We are Completed in God’s Peace
The Hebrew word for peace is “shalom” which entails completeness, safety, contentment, friendship with God. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Prayer is the overflow of God’s life in us (Phil. 4:7-8).
Humanity does not have peace; 92% of our recorded history is war. The thousands of man-made peace treaties last an average length of only two years. God’s eternal peace is established through the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Faith in Yeshua brings a peace with God (forgiveness), others (fellowship), and yourself (fulfillment). This is the peace and rest God accomplished in Messiah’s sacrifice. Today, Israel may be so desperate to have peace that they are willing to trade away their land for it, but true peace comes by faith in Yeshua. Where the Lord reigns, there is rest.
We are Confident in God’s Promises
In Psalm 122:6, God states, “May they prosper who love you.” In Hebrew the word translated “may they prosper” is yishlayu, from the verb sha’lah which means “to be quiet, at ease.” In Job’s despair, he complains that “the tents of the destroyers prosper” (yishlayu, Job 12:6). But God says otherwise. The idea is not financial prosperity, but the true fulfillment that comes from confidence in God’s promises.
We possess the spiritual prosperity and contentment when we love as He loves. Our prayer life reflects God’s life living through us. Therefore, if we pray according to His will, we will know the real prosperity our hearts desire. Considering what the Scriptures teach, shouldn’t our spiritual fruit be associated with the Land of Israel? Thank you for being an intercessor on behalf of the Jewish people! Shalom.