The Peace of Jerusalem

By Sam Nadler

In Psalm 122:6 David writes, “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem; May they prosper who love you.”
Count it up and you have twelve words in the English translation. In the more compact language of Hebrew, it’s only five: Sha’alu Shalom Yerushalayim yishlayu ohavaich. We will see below that each of these words gives an important truth.

For many people, God may be a last resort, not their first resource. Most people pray because they’re in a catastrophe, rather than out of conviction. It’s like the congregational leader who overheard a young boy praying, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, O Jerusalem!”
“You’re certainly concerned about Jerusalem young man,” the pastor replied.
“Yes sir,” replied the boy, “I just took my geography test and was praying that God would make Jerusalem the capital of France!”
Similarly, some of us pray only when there’s a reality test that we are flunking! So, why should we pray for the Peace of Jerusalem?

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. The commands of the Holy One (haKadosh) are the convictions of His saints (or holy ones, kedoshim). 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” (Mathew 28:20). Our prayer life evidences our shared values and priorities with God, so that we obey the command, we identify with His priorities. To not pray for the Peace of Jerusalem is disobedience and a lack of identification with the Lord’s priorities. No prayer, no priorities.

We Are Concerned about God’s People

We should share God’s concern for the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:6). This concern of God is seen in two of the words used in Psalm 122:6. The Hebrew word sha’alu is actually not normally translated as “pray” but means “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 His spiritually sick child – Jerusalem. Notice the parallel thoughts in that one verse: “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem” parallels “may they prosper who love you (ohavayich)” Those that love, pray. While away from home, as a father with two young sons, I would pray for them. Why? Because I loved them. We pray because we share God’s loving concern for the lost. No prayer, no passion.

We Are Committed to God’s Program

Isn’t it interesting that in this verse, God doesn’t command prayer for Rome, Athens, Nineveh, or Babylon. Why? Not because He lacks concern for other cities. 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 (Zechariah 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” (Matthew 23:39). Therefore, we pray because we share God’s perspective on the future. No prayer, no perspective.

We Are Completed in God’s Peace

The Hebrew word for “peace” is shalom which means not merely “peace”, but also “completeness, safety, contentment, friendship with God”. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Prayer is the overflow of God’s life in us (Philippians 4:7-8). But man does not have this peace; 92% of man’s recorded history is war. The thousands of peace treaties man has made last an average of only two years!
God’s eternal peace is accomplished through the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Faith in Yeshua brings a peace with God (forgiveness), others (fellowship), and yourself (fulfillment). Where the Lord reigns, there is rest. 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, but true peace comes by faith in Yeshua. No prayer, no peace.

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 spiritual prosperity and contentment when we love as He loves. Our prayer life reflects God’s life living through us. Therefore, as we pray according to His Will, we will know the real prosperity our hearts desire. No prayer, no prosperity.

Out of obedience to the Lord’s commands, concern for His people, a strategic commitment to His program, completion in His peace, and confidence in His promises, we pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Are you aligned with God in your prayer ministry?

A few helpful Scriptures to study regarding Israel and prayer are: Jer. 31:31-34, Zech. 12:2-3, Romans 10:1.