Psalm 122:6

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 6. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Peace was her name, pray that her condition may verify her title. Abode of Peace, peace be to thee. Here was a most sufficient reason for rejoicing at the thought of going up to the house of the Lord, since that sacred shrine stood in the centre of an area of peace: well might Israel pray that such peace should be continued. In a church peace is to be desired, expected, promoted, and enjoyed. If we may not say "Peace at any price," yet we may certainly cry "Peace at the highest price." Those who are daily fluttered by rude alarms are charmed to reach their nest in a holy fellowship, and abide in it. In a church one of the main ingredients of success is internal peace: strife, suspicion, party spirit, division, -- these are deadly things. Those who break the peace of the church deserve to suffer, and those who sustain it win a great blessing. Peace in the church should be our daily prayer, and in so praying we shall bring down peace upon ourselves; for the Psalmist goes on to say,

They shall prosper that love thee, or, perhaps we may read it as a prayer, "May they have peace that love thee." Whether the passage be regarded as a promise or as a prayer matters not, for prayer pleads the promise, and the promise is the ground of prayer. Prosperity of soul is already enjoyed by those who take a deep interest in the church and cause of God: they are men of peace, and find peace in their holy endeavours: God's people pray for them, and God himself delights in them. Prosperity of worldly condition often comes to the lovers of the church if they are able to bear it: many a time the house of Obededom is blessed because of the ark of the Lord. Because the Egyptian midwives feared the Lord, therefore the Lord made them houses. No man shall ever be a permanent loser by the house of the Lord: in peace of heart alone. If in nothing else, we find recompense enough for all that we can do in promoting the interests of Zion.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 6. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. By praying for Jerusalem's peace is meant such serene times wherein the people of God might enjoy his pure worship without disturbance. The Church has always had her vicissitudes, sometimes fair, and sometimes foul weather; but her winter commonly longer than her summer; yea, at the same time that the Sun of peace brings day to one part of it, another is wrapped up in the night of persecution. Universal peace over all the churches is a great rarity. William Gumall.

Verse 6. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. When the Wesleyan Methodists opened a chapel at Painswick, near his own meeting, the late excellent Cornelius Winter prayed three times publicly the preceding Sabbath for their encouragement and success. When Mr. Hoskins, of Bristol, the Independent minister of Castle Green, opened a meeting in Temple Street; what did the incomparable Easterbrooke, the Vicar of the parish? The morning it was opened, he was almost the first that entered it, He seated himself near the pulpit. When the service was over, he met the preacher at the foot of the stairs, and shaking him with both hands, said aloud: "I thank you cordially, my dear brother, for coming to my help -- here is room enough for us both; and work enough for us both; and much more than we can both accomplish: and I hope the Lord will bless our cooperation in this good cause." William Jay.

Verse 6. Pray (with this princely prophet) for the peace of Jerusalem. I wish I could express the incomparable sweetness of this little hemistichium. I guess, the Holy Ghost was pleased to let the Psalmist play the poet here: the Psalms are holy poetry. The original words have such elegancy here, as (I think) all the Scripture cannot parallel this verse. It is in English inexpressible. For the point in hand only, he bids us pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Peace denominates Jerusalem, `tis the etymon of the word, it means the vision of peace. David by that term most sweetly alludes to the name of the city, yet conceals his wit; which could have been made more open: he said, ~lf ~wlf wlaf, "Pray for the peace of Salem." For so it was called too, called first so, called still so ( Psalms 76:2 ) "At Salem is his tabernacle." That word merely sounds peace: God would have his Church the house of peace; and his temple there David might not build because he was a man of war; but Solomon his son, who had his name of peace, must build it. Christ, whose the church is, she his spouse, would not be born in Julius Caesar's reign; he was a warrior too: but in Augustus's days, who reigned in peace. And this may be a reason too, if you please, why David bids pray but for peace only, an earthly blessing. That word most fitted his art here, and sounded best. But under that word, by poetical synecdoche, he couched all heavenly blessings. Richard Clarke, 1634.

Verse 6. Pray, etc. Our praying for the church giveth us a share in all the church's prayers; we have a venture in every ship of prayer that maketh a voyage for heaven, if our hearts be willing to pray for the church; and if not, we have no share in it.

Let no man flatter himself: they that pray not for the church of God love not the church of God. Let them prosper that love thee; that is, that pray for thee, the one is the counterpart of the other. If we do not love it, we will not pray for it; and if we do not pray for it, we do not love it. Yea, if we pray not for the church, we lose our share in the prayers of the church. You will say that man hath a great estate that hath a part in every ship at sea; and yet to have an adventure in all the prayers that are made to heaven is better than all the world. All the church's prayers are for all the living members of it, viz. -- the blessings will be to them, for a man to have a venture ill every ship of prayer of all the churches throughout all the world. I would not (for my part) leave my share in it for all the world; and that man hath no share in it that will not afford a prayer for the church. John Stoughton, 1640.

Verse 6. They shall prosper that love thee. The word "prosper" conveys an idea which is not in the original. The Hebrew word means to be secure, tranquil, at rest, spoken especially of one who enjoys quiet prosperity: Job 3:26 12:6. The essential idea is that of quietness or rest; and the meaning here is, that those who love Zion will have peace; or, that the tendency of that love is to produce peace. See Romans 5:1 . The prayer was for "peace"; the thought in connexion with that was naturally that those who loved Zion would have peace. It is indeed true, in general, that they who love Zion, or who serve God, will "prosper"; but that is not the truth taught here. The idea is that they will have peace: -- peace with God; peace in their own consciences; peace in the prospect of death and of the future world; peace amidst the storms and tempests of life; peace in death, in the grave, and for ever. Albert Barnes.

Verse 6. They shall prosper that love thee. Seeing they prosper that love and bear affection to Jerusalem, let men learn to show good will unto Christ's church, though as yet they be no ripe scholars themselves in Christ's school: though they be not grown to perfection let them express a good affection. A good will and inclination, where strength yet faileth, is accepted, and a ready disposition is not rejected: though thou be not yet of the saints, yet love the saints. If thou likest and lovest that thou wouldst be, thou must be that hereafter which yet thou art not. The little bird before she flieth fluttereth with her wings in the nest: the child creepeth before he goeth: so religion begins with affection, and devotion proceedeth from desire. A man must first love that he would be, before he can be that which he loveth. It is a good sign when a man affecteth that which he expects, and doth favour that which he would more fully favour. He that loveth Sion shall prosper: he that loveth virtue shall increase and prosper in it. The day of small things shall not be despised ( Zechariah 4:10 ), neither shall the smoking flax be quenched ( Matthew 12:20 ); but the smoke shall bring forth fire, and fire shall break forth into a flame. Andrew Willett (1562-1621), in "Certaine Fruitfull Meditations upon the 122. Psalme."

Verse 6. They shall prosper that love thee. The reverse is also true. "None ever took a stone out of the Temple, but the dust did fly into his eyes." Jewish Proverb.

Verse 6-9. In this cordial and even impassioned invocation, it is curious to find one of those puns, or plays on words, which are characteristic of Hebrew poetry. The leading words of the strophe are "peace" and "prosperity." Now the Hebrew word for "peace" is shalom, and the Hebrew word for "prosperity" is shalvah, while the Hebrew form of "Jerusalem," which means "City of Peace," is Yeru-shalaim. So that, in effect, the poet wishes shalom and shalvah on shalaim -- "peace" and "prosperity" on "the City of Peace." Such an use of words may not strike us as indicating any very subtle or profound sense of humour, or any remarkable artistic skill. But we must always remember that it is always difficult for one race to appreciate the humour, or wit, of another race. We must also remember that this art of playing on words and the sound of words -- an art of which we are growing weary -- was very novel and surprising to men not surfeited with it as we are, and who were themselves for the most part quite incapable of the simplest dexterities of speech. Samuel Cox.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 6.

  1. The prayer,
    1. "For Jerusalem": not for ourselves merely, or for the world; but for the church. For the babes in grace; for the young men, and for the fathers. For the pastors, with the deacons and elders.
    2. For the "peace" of Jerusalem. Inward peace and outward peace.
  2. The promise.
    1. To whom given: "They that love thee."
    2. The promise itself: "They shall prosper" -- individually and collectively.
Or,

  1. Love to Jerusalem is the effect of true piety.
  2. Prayer for Jerusalem is the effect of that love.
  3. The peace of Jerusalem is the effect of that prayer; and,
  4. The prosperity of Jerusalem is the effect of that peace. G.R.

Verse 6. God has connected giving and receiving, scattering and increasing, sowing and reaping, praying and prospering.

  1. What we must do if we would prosper -- "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem."
    1. Comprehensively: "Peace" -- spiritual, social, ecclesiastical, national.
    2. Supremely: "Prefer Jerusalem above," etc.
    3. Practically: "Let peace rule in your hearts." "Seek peace and pursue it."
  2. What we shall gain if we pray thus -- "Prosperity."
    1. Temporal prosperity may thus come. God turned again the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends.
    2. Spiritual prosperity shall thus come. Affairs of soul -- holy exercises and services.
    3. Numerical prosperity will thus come. "Increased with men as a flock." W. J.

Verse 6-9.

  1. The blessings desired for the church.
    1. Peace.
    2. Prosperity. Notice the order and connection of these two.
  2. The way to secure them.

    1. Prayer: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem."
    2. Delight in the service of God: "I was glad," etc.
    3. Practical effort: "I will seek thy good."
  3. Reasons for seeking them.
    1. For our own sake: "They shall prosper," etc.
    2. For our companions' sake.
    3. For the sake of the "house of the Lord." F. J. B.