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Jerusalem: God dwelling with his people (Psalm 137:6)

Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!

This verse caught my attention because it is a rephrasing of my current life verse, Ps. 27.4. In Ps. 27.4, the psalmist says that if he is going to ask the Lord for only one thing, this is what it would be: that he might dwell in the house of the Lord forever, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. Basically, he wants to be with God.

Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!

This verse caught my attention because it is a rephrasing of my current life verse, Ps. 27.4. In Ps. 27.4, the psalmist says that if he is going to ask the Lord for only one thing, this is what it would be: that he might dwell in the house of the Lord forever, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. Basically, he wants to be with God. Here in Ps. 137, the psalmist is saying the same thing. Jerusalem is the city that God makes his dwelling. So Jerusalem symbolizes God’s presence with his people (see also I Ki 11:36; 14:21, II Ki. 21:4-7, II Ch. 6:6; 12:13, Zec. 2:5; 8:3-8, Rev. 21:2-3. By saying that Jerusalem is above his highest joy, the psalmist is saying that he wants to be with God more than anything. This joy is set above every other joy.

The phrase about the tongue sticking to the roof of his mouth is used three other times in the Bible and always refers to not being able to speak. So the psalmist is saying, “If I fail to make being with God my highest joy, then I really don’t have anything worth saying or singing about. Same thing with “let my right hand forget its skills” in v. 5. He is referring to playing an instrument (see context of vs. 3-4).

When I fail to value and appreciate and seek to be in fellowship with God, then I have lost my highest joy. Nothing else is worthy of my life. So to apply this scripture, I need to find ways to express this practically. How am I going to enjoy God’s presence today?

In Rev. 3:20 Jesus issues an invitation to the church in Laodicea, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock…”. We often associate this verse with evangelism and inviting people to come to Christ initially, but the invitation here is to people who are already Christians. Jesus wants to “come in and eat with him, and he with me.” The picture is one of fellowship.

By Bryan Jay

My name is Bryan Jay and I have been teaching the Bible full-time for almost 30 years now. In 1992, I began pastoring a new church in Asheville, North Carolina, and in 1997, I moved with my family to Brazil where we lived and served for many years. Since that time, we have moved on to other places, continuing to teach the Word of God.

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