If these Psalms are about pilgrimage, this Psalm describes a successful conclusion: Our feet are standing in your gates, Jerusalem.” Perhaps it was sung at the end of the road, or on the way to the city in expectation of it. 

Like the Psalms, the New Testament urges us to look ahead to the end of our pilgrimage. For example, the author of Hebrews sets before us the warning of Psalm 95, telling us that we, like its first singers, are pressing on towards a promised rest (Hebrews 4:8 – 9). Only this place of rest is the new creation of John’s vision, the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:10 – 11). Just as the first pilgrims went up to Jerusalem to commemorate God’s mighty actions in history, so we look forward to seeing our Saviour face to face. 

Words like this may make us nervous at an election. Such grand claims for the new creation have a reputation for distracting us from the here and now. Is this not a temptation to abandon the world around us and wait for God to make all things new? 

This is not the Bible’s view of waiting for God. The Psalm goes on Pray for the peace of Jerusalem…For the sake of my family and friends I will say, Peace be within you.’ For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity.” The original pilgrims did not sit complacently in Jerusalem on pilgrimage, but committed to pray for their city and their land. 

Later, Jeremiah 29:7 almost echoes the words of this Psalm in its command to those in exile. It famously tells them to seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” This they were to do even as they waited for the Lord’s restoration (verse 10). 

And in turn, by taking up this language of exile (1 Peter 1:1), the New Testament authors urge us to do the same. Paul encourages us to pray for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:2). Likewise, when Paul reminds the Philippians that our citizenship is in heaven,” he means being a little outpost of heaven on earth, praying your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. 

So, as we engage with our political challenges, let’s remember our hope in heaven and pray for our leaders on earth as we live in its light. And as our country remembers those who gave their lives in war, let’s also remember the hope expressed in so much of our remembrance, including in one verse of I Vow to Thee, My Country:

And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,