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Psalm 122:6-9

6. Pray ye for the peace of Jerusalem: may those who love thee prosper 7. Peace be within thy bulwarks 7070     “Within thy walls. Josephus tells us, that there were at Jerusalem three ranges of walls surrounding the city. The sense of the passage is, ‘May no enemy approach even to thy out-works to disturb thy prosperity’” — Warner. prosperity 7171     “Ou, abondance.” — Fr marg. “Or, abundance.” within thy towers! 8. For the sake of my brethren and neighbors, I will now say, Peace be within thee! 9. Because of the house of Jehovah our God, I will seek thy good.

 

6. Pray ye for the peace of Jerusalem. David now exhorts all the devout worshippers of God to make supplication for the prosperity of the holy city. The more effectually to stir them up to such exercise, he promises that, in this way the divine blessing will descend upon them. The reason why he was so deeply concerned about the prosperity of Jerusalem was, as we have formerly stated — and he again repeats the same thing at the end of the Psalm—because the welfare of the whole Church was inseparably connected with that kingdom and priesthood. Now as each of us in particular, were the whole Church to be involved in ruin, must necessarily perish miserably, it is not surprising to find David recommending to all the children of God to cultivate this anxious concern about the Church. If we would order our prayers aright, let us always begin with pleading that the Lord would be pleased to preserve this sacred community. Whoever, confining his attention to his own personal advantage, is indifferent about the common weal, he not only gives evidence that he is destitute of all true feeling of godliness, but in vain desires his own prosperity, and will profit nothing by his prayers, since he does not observe the due order. 7272     “Et ne proufiter arien par ses prieres, d’autant qu’il n’observe point l’ordre legitime ” — Fr. Similar is the drift of the promise which is added immediately after: They shall prosper that love thee; which, however, may be read in the form of a wish, May those who love thee prosper But the sense in either case is almost the same. Farther, although the Hebrew verb שלה, shalah, which the Prophet here uses, signifies to live in quietness or peace, yet as the Hebrew noun for peace, from which it is derived, is employed by him generally for a joyful and happy condition, I have no doubt that he here announces in general to all the godly who have the well being of the Church near their heart, that they shall enjoy the blessing of God and a prosperous life. This sentence frequently occurs in the Prophecies of Isaiah, from the 54th chapter to the end of the book (Isaiah 54-66). Hence we learn that the curse of God rests upon all such as afflict the Church, or plot and endeavor by any kind of mischief to accomplish its destruction.

7. Peace be within thy bulwarks, etc. The two clauses express the same sentiment, and, therefore, the meaning of the first is gathered from the second. The term peace signifies nothing else than prosperity. The noun שלוה, shalvah, in the second clause, sometimes signifies rest, but it is more frequently taken for abundance or prosperity On this account I have translated the noun בחילך, bechelech, within thy bulwark 7373     Calvin’s meaning is, that as the nouns peace and prosperity have a corresponding signification, he was of opinion, that there existed a similar correspondence between the other two nouns. I do not find fault with others who have translated it a ditch or outward wall; but the word bulwark agrees better with the word towers, which occurs at the close of the verse. The amount is, that David prays for the prosperity of the Church through its whole extent. Moreover, it is to be noticed, that when he offers supplication for its external prosperity, it is not to be understood as implying that he was unconcerned about its internal state or spiritual well being; but under the similitude of walls, 7474     The Latin copy here reads, “sed ad mores alludens;” but mores is evidently a typographical error for muros The French version has “mais sous ceste similitude des murs he wishes that on all sides the blessing of God may environ and fortify the holy city.

8. For the sake of my brethren and neighbors. He specifies two causes on account of which he felt a care about the Church, for the purpose of stirring up, by his example, all the faithful to exercise the same care. These words, however, seem to contain a tacit contrast. Among the wicked and malicious he might be the object of suspicion, or, at least, he was in danger of being slandered; as if, in commending Jerusalem, he had rather an eye to his own particular advantage than to the public welfare. In order, therefore, to remove all ground for objecting, that in thus speaking he was craftily endeavoring to establish his own kingdom, he protests, that he is not influenced by personal considerations, but by a concern for the whole Church, which he embraced with a sincere affection of heart. I will speak, says he, O Jerusalem! of thy peace, not because it will be profitable for me or mine, but because thy prosperity shall extend itself to all the children of God; for under the term brethren he doubtless comprehends all believers that he did so, because the worship of God so far from remaining entire would go to ruin unless Jerusalem continued standing. If then the salvation of our brethren is regarded by us as an object of importance, if religion is with us a matter of heart-work, we ought, at the same time, as much as in us lies, to take an interest in the prosperity of the Church. Whence it follows, that such as are indifferent about her condition, are no less cruel than impious; for if she is “the pillar and foundation of truth,” the inevitable consequence of her destruction must be the extinction of true piety. And if the body is destroyed, how can each of the members fail to be involved in destruction? Farther, this passage teaches us, that the Church is not an empty title, but must be sought for where the true religion prevails. Whence it appears, how foolish the Papists are, who, notwithstanding their having rejected and overthrown the doctrine of the Gospel, yet mightily boast of the name of the Church.

9. Because of the house of Jehovah our God, etc. In this verse he adds a second reason why he cared for the Church — that he did so, because the worship of God so far from remaining entire would go to ruin unless Jerusalem continued standing. If then the salvation of our brethren is regarded by us as an object of importance, if religion is with us a matter of heart-work, we ought, at the same time, as much as in us lies, to take an interest in the prosperity of the Church. Whence it follows, that such are indifferent about her condition, are no less cruel than impious; for if she is “the pillar and foundation of truth,” the inevitable consequence of her destruction must be the extinction of true piety. And if the body is destroyed, how can each of the members fail to be involved in destruction? Farther, this passage teaches us that the Church is not an empty title, but must be sought for where the true religion prevails. Whence it appears, how foolish the Papists are, who, notwithstanding their having rejected and overthrown the doctrine of the Gospel, yet mightily boast of the name of the Church.


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