| || |
Many years ago, as a young man, I remember repeatedly listening to this song and singing along with it as part of my daily habit. I did it not because I had any sort of attachment to Jerusalem, but because it was a psalm from Scripture and it had been written into a nice contemporary and catchy tune to which I could groove my young body.
Jerusalem is a Holy Land not just for the Christians, but also for the Jews and the Muslims (and the greater land of Israel, for the Baha'is). For Christians, this was where Christ our Lord died, was buried and rose from the dead, and this was the birthplace of the Church. Both Jewish and Christian Scriptures mention Jerusalem hundreds of times. For the Muslims, Jerusalem is the al-Quds ("the Holy") because they believe that the prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven from the Temple Mount during his Night Journey. What a holy place for such a large population of the world's citizens.
And yet, it is precisely this joint recognition of the holiness of the place that has led the people of different religions to so much painful strife there. Lives have been lost unnecessarily, and Jerusalem in all its glorious history has never experienced peace. With much emotion, I pray that God's peace -- shalom -- will soon descend upon this land that I have come to love for the sake of all who seek the face of God.
[Song of Ascents Of David]
I rejoiced that they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of Yahweh.'
At last our feet are standing at your gates, Jerusalem!
Jerusalem, built as a city, in one united whole,
there the tribes go up, the tribes of Yahweh, a sign for Israel to give thanks to the name of Yahweh.
For there are set the thrones of judgement, the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, prosperity for your homes!
Peace within your walls, prosperity in your palaces!
For love of my brothers and my friends I will say, 'Peace upon you!'
For love of the house of Yahweh our God I will pray for your well-being.