Lovers of Peace

By Michael Fitzpatrick

A Reading from Psalm 112

1 I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”

2 Now our feet are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem.

3 Jerusalem is built as a city
that is at unity with itself;

4 To which the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD,
the assembly of Israel,
to praise the Name of the LORD.

5 For there are the thrones of judgment,
the thrones of the house of David.

6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.

7 Peace be within your walls
and quietness within your towers.

8 For my brethren and companions’ sake,
I pray for your prosperity.

9 Because of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek to do you good.”


Like so many, I agonize over the strife between the nation of Israel and the Palestinian community. Brutal words and deeds have been exchanged on both sides, but perhaps the greatest tragedy is that of being riven by claims to a land that, in the religious heritage of both communities, was promised to the descendants of Abraham as a place whose inhabitants would be a peaceful blessing to all nations.

Our psalm prays for peace in Jerusalem. The prayer is not characterized by the cold logic of international policy law or by the often-anxious activism galvanized by human rights abuses. Instead, the prayer is framed through the security of love: “May those who love you be secure.” The lovers of the Most High are those for whom security is established in the holy city: “peace within Jerusalem’s walls; security within its citadels.” How might the modern conflict change if leaders, both local and international, were motivated by their love for Shalom, As-Salaam — and the One who is peace — rather than animus for one another?

The final verses echo the two great commandments to love. We pray for peace out of love for our family, our friends, our neighbors; and we pursue the prosperity of all for “the sake of the house of the Lord.” The Lord’s house is not a tribal emblem, but “a house of prayer for all nations” (Is. 56:7). Thus, working toward peace for Israeli and Palestinian begins and ends with love. We can best pray this prayer with the psalmist if we passionately love the God who wills peace for all peoples.

Michael Fitzpatrick is a doctoral student in philosophy at Stanford University. He attends St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Palo Alto, California, where he serves as a lay preacher and teacher.

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