Psalms 137: The Promised Land
Psalms 137 was obviously written during a very upsetting time for the Israelites. They were captives in Babylon, and the people were telling them to sing a song that they used the sing when they were at home in Israel. This request was not taken very well.
Psa 137:3 For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
Psa 137:4 How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land?
Psa 137:5 If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
Psa 137:6 If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.
I had a little bit of trouble thinking about this passage at first. Jerusalem should not be your top joy; God should be the top joy. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Jerusalem was more than just a city made out of stones.
Jerusalem was the heart of the Promised Land. It was a large part of the promise that was given to the people of Israel by God. Because of their disobedience, they temporarily lost that piece of land, but Jerusalem was the earthly centerpiece of that promise. It had a lot more value than an average city. God gave them the land, and Jerusalem was the capital.
Beyond that, the Temple was in Jerusalem. It was the main place where you would worship God. I understand that you can worship God anywhere, but the Temple was very important for the people of Israel at that time. The chief priest communicated with God through the Holy of Holies for all the people at specified times. Needless to say, Jerusalem was important for that reason as well.
Jerusalem was so much more than just a city. It was an important way for all of the people to worship God and interact with God. It seems to me that that is what we are talking about here. God is still the chief joy, but Jerusalem was a very important part of the relationship that God had with the people of Israel. That relationship was central, but Jerusalem was the symbol of that relationship.