“Glorious things of you are spoken, O city of God.”
~ Psalm 87:3
This psalm is a shorter psalm but a very intriguing psalm, lending to a longer ‘reflection’. It is noted as a song from the Sons of Korah. These men do not actually mention the name Jerusalem, but that is the “city he founded” (v.1) of which they speaking. Though perhaps only aware that they were speaking of the city they physically knew, these authors, as carried along by the Spirit (2 Peter 1:21), spoke more eschatologically (end times, future things, final things). They were speaking more so prophetically of the Jerusalem to come…the City of God of which they themselves were speaking “glorious things” (v.3).
The word “Zion” (v.2,5), is a poetic word used in the Bible when speaking of Jerusalem in a context more than just the physical (‘here and now’ or more accurately ‘there and then’) Jerusalem. Biblical authors used this term when speaking in anticipation of the Messianic Kingdom yet to come. Indeed, there are many glorious things spoken of this city throughout the progressively revealed Word of God.
Verse 4 is an extremely curious verse and I am sure baffled the original authors and recipients. It speaks of “those who know me” and those of whom it will be said were “born there” as Rahab, Babylon, Philistia, Tyre and Cush. Rahab is the name of a mythological creature/monster from pagan religions. This reference would have been familiar to the original audience and known to be used in reference to Egypt. Babylon, Philistia and Tyre (along with Egypt) would have quickly been identified as perpetual enemies of Israel. Cush (the land of Ethiopia/Nubia) represented the ends of the world, those people most remote from Israel, and thereby most remote from the God of Israel.
As an Israelite, the question would be asked, “How could it be that these lands/peoples would be in the future kingdom?…as people who know the LORD?…identified as born from the City of God?” In Scripture these lands, nations and peoples are not regularly identified as God’s people. But this author is rightfully seeing ahead to a day when all of these nations will be known as ones “born from Zion” yet still identified by their nationality. God has always intended to save the nations, Israel had lost perspective, seeing only themselves as the people of God as his chosen nation. Perhaps I can connect this to what Jesus teaches about being born again to enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3). Verse 6 in this psalm speaks of being given a new identity and being “registered” as God’s people. In Jesus, we too are given a new identity, made a new creation and he registers our names in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Verse 7 tells of singers and dancers saying, “all my springs are in you”. These “springs” = blessing/salvation. Jesus himself says salvation comes from the Jews, from himself, from Jerusalem where he was crucified and secured our salvation. Zechariah 8:20-23 is one of the many other Biblical descriptions of the New Jerusalem/Zion, and the many and variety of peoples that will be there. (See also Revelation 21:9-27)
As Christians, we too belong to the kingdom and are citizens of Zion; we too are the people of God. Long for that day…greatly anticipate the day when we will inhabit the eternal city of God, the Jerusalem/Zion that Jesus has gone ahead to prepare for us and will bring down. The city from where Jesus will rule and reign from the throne of David. A day and time that will stretch on into eternity when we will be fully clothed with the righteousness of Christ and we will be free from sin and sorrow and pain and we will be lifting the Name of the LORD on high, for only he is worthy; only he is “holy, holy, holy”.