I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together.
To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
For there the thrones for judgment were set up, the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers.”
For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.
What pops out at you in this psalm? Is there anything that makes you go “hmm….” or “huh?” or “hey!!!!” Are you reminded of any other stories–whether in the Bible, in literature/movies/music/TV, or in your own life? As you read, do you hear any music in your head?
The psalms are both a prayer book and a hymnal. Does it seem like this particular psalm is more like a prayer or more like a song? What’s the difference between a prayer and a song? Do you ever pray through music? What is that like for you?
What does it mean to you to “go to the house of the Lord”? Where does God live? The ancient Israelites believed that God literally lived in the Temple in Jerusalem. That Temple no longer stands (it was destroyed in 587 BCE, rebuilt, and destroyed again in 70CE). So where does God live now? Is the church building the house of God? If so, what is the purpose of the building?
The psalmist reminds us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is still a very troubled city, and prayers for peace seem sometimes to fall on deaf ears. What might peace in Jerusalem look like? What would peace in our own “holy city” look like? In our own church community? In “God’s house” wherever that might be?
The psalm ends with “for the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.” The reference is, of course, to a Jerusalem that contains The Temple. If we can imagine that all of creation is God’s house, or that the people of God are God’s house (like Peter says in 1 Peter 2, we are a temple made of living stones), then whose good are we to seek?
What do you hear as the good news in this text? What do you hear as a challenge? What might this prayer/song have to say to our community today?