'Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: "May they prosper who love you."’ (Psalm 122.6 NKJV)
Since the time of King David, Jerusalem had been a symbol of God’s presence and covenant with his people. David had captured the city from the Jebusites, united the Hebrew tribes, and laid the foundations of a nation reaching from the desert to the sea.
Not only did Jerusalem become a political center; David’s son Solomon had a temple built, which stood for God’s presence among his people.
Things went downhill, though, when Jerusalem was attacked, first by Assyrian and subsequently by Babylonian armies. The Jewish Scriptures – the Old Testament – are full of references to the trauma of Jerusalem’s destruction as people wavered between despair over God’s judgment and hope in his redemption.
Redemption came; Jews were released from Babylonian exile (sixth century BC) and rebuilt the city and the temple. Centuries later, the temple was expanded significantly, not long before Jesus the Messiah arrived on the scene.
When everything feels out of control, where do you turn? What gives you that sense of being put back together again? For some, it’s the ocean; for others, mountain tops, and for some, it's their favorite coffee shop.
For David, Jerusalem was his place. Not only was its architecture aesthetically pleasing (Psalm 122.3), but it was a ‘well-built city, built as a place for worship’ (The Message). In Jerusalem was ‘the house of the LORD’: a place of encounter where David could ‘praise the name of the LORD’ with the ‘tribes of Israel’.
When we worship in community, we find ourselves connecting with God and with who he wants us to be. In the ‘house of the LORD’, David, in community with others, reconnects with the God who made him and loved him. This is what it means to be ‘put back together’.
Now we may not have a physical Jerusalem to run to, but when everything feels broken and out of sorts, we can still ‘go to the house of the Lord’; his presence is near and his arms are wide open.