(The following texts highlighted in this color of blue is taken from

The Treasury of David by Charles Haddon Spurgeon)  "Excerpted text

Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.  Materials are reproduced

by permission."

 

                                                Psalm 87

 

 

TITLE. —A Psalm or Song for the sons of Korah. A sacred hymn and a

national lyric. A theocracy blends the religious and the patriotic ideas in

one; and in proportion as nations become Christianized, their popular

songs will become deeply imbued with pious sentiments. Judged by this

standard, our own land is far in arrears. This "Psalm or song" was either

composed by the sons of Korah, or dedicated to them: as they kept the

doors of the house of the Lord, they could use this beautiful composition

as a Psalm within the doors, and as a song outside.

 

SUBJECT AND DIVISION. —The song is in honor of Zion, or

Jerusalem, and it treats of God's favor to that city among the mountains,

the prophecies which made it illustrious, and the honor of being a native

of it. Many conceive that it was written at the founding of David's city of

Zion, but does not the mention of Babylon imply a later date? It would

seem to have been written after Jerusalem and the Temple had been built,

and had enjoyed a history, of which glorious things could be spoken.

Among other marvels of God's love in its later history, it had been

untouched by Sennacherib when other cities of Israel and Judah had fallen

victims to his cruelty. It was in Hezekiah's reign that Babylon became

prominent, when the ambassadors came to congratulate the king

concerning his recovery, at that time also Tyre would be more famous than

at any period in David's day. But as we have no information, and the point

is not important, we may leave it, and proceed to meditate upon the Psalm

itself. We have no need to divide so brief a song.

 

1   “His foundation is in the holy mountains.”  The Psalm begins

abruptly, the poet's heart was full, and it gained vent on a sudden.

 

                        "God's foundation stands forever

                             On the holy mountain towers;

                        Sion's gates Jehovah favors

                             More than Jacob's thousand bowers."

 

Sudden passion is evil, but bursts of holy joy are most precious. God has

chosen to found His earthly temple upon the mountains; He might have

selected other spots, but it was His pleasure to have His chosen abode upon

Zion. His election made the mountains holy, they were by His determination

ordained and set apart for the Lord's use.

 

The foundation of the church, which is the mystical Jerusalem, is laid in the

eternal, immutable, and invincible decrees of Jehovah. He wills that the

church shall be, He settles all arrangements for her calling, salvation,

maintenance and perfection, and all His attributes, like the mountains round

about Jerusalem, lend their strength for her support. Not on the sand of

carnal policy, nor in the morass of human kingdoms, has the Lord founded

His church, but on His own power and godhead, which are pledged for the

establishment of His beloved church, which is to Him the chief of all His

works. What a theme for meditation is the founding of the church of God

in the ancient covenant engagements of eternity; (Revelation 13:8) - the abrupt

character of this first verse indicates long consideration on the part of the writer,

leading up to his bursting forth in wonder and adoration. Well might such a

theme cause his heart to glow. Rome stands on her seven hills and has

never lacked a poet's tongue to sing her glories, but more glorious far art

thou, O Zion, among the eternal mountains of God: while pen can write or

mouth can speak, thy praises shall never lie buried in inglorious silence.

 

2   “The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of

Jacob.”  The gates are put for the city itself. The love of God is greatest to

His own elect nation, descended from His servant Jacob, yet the central seat

of His worship is dearer still; no other supposable comparison could have

so fully displayed the favor which Jehovah bore to Jerusalem, — He loves

Jacob best and Zion better than the best. At this hour the mystical teaching

of these words is plain, God delights in the prayers and praises of Christian

families and individuals, but He has a special eye to the assemblies of the

faithful, and He has a special delight in their devotions in their church

capacity. The great festivals, when the crowds surrounded the temple

gates, were fair in the Lord's eyes, and even such is the general assembly

and church of the first born, whose names are written in heaven. This

should lead each separate believer to identify himself with the church of

God; where the Lord reveals His love the most, there should each believer

most delight to be found. Our own dwellings are very dear to us, but we

must not prefer them to the assemblies of the saints; we must say of the

church—

 

                        "Here my best friends, my kindred dwell:

                        Here God, my Saviour reigns."

 

3   “Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God.”  This is true of

Jerusalem. Her history, which is the story of the nation of which she is the

capital, is full of glorious incidents, and her use and end as the abode of the

true God, and of His worship, was preeminently glorious. Glorious things

were taught in the streets, and seen in her temples. Glorious things were

foretold of her, and she was the type of the most glorious things of all. This

is yet more true of the church: she is founded in grace, but her pinnacles

glow with glory. Men may glory in her without being braggarts, she has a

luster about her brow which none can rival. Whatever glorious things the

saints may say of the church in their eulogies, they cannot exceed what

prophets have foretold, what angels have sung, or what God Himself has

declared. Happy are the tongues which learn to occupy themselves with so

excellent a subject, may they be found around our fire sides, in our market

places, and in all the spots where men most congregate. Never let thy

praises cease, O thou bride of Christ, thou fairest among women, thou in

whom the Lord Himself hath placed His delight, calling thee by that pearl of

names, Hephzibah, —"for my delight is in her." (Isaiah 62:4) - Since the Lord

has chosen thee, and deigns to dwell in thee, O thou city of beauty, none can

rival thee, thou art the eye of the world, the pearl, the queen of all the cities of

the universe; the true "eternal city", the metropolitan, the mother of us all.

The years to come shall unveil thy beauties to the astonished eyes of all

peoples, and the day of thy splendor shall come to its sevenfold noon.

“Selah.”  With the prospect before him of a world converted, and the most

implacable foes transformed into friends, it was meet that the Psalmist

should pause. How could he sing the glories of new born Tyre and

Ethiopia, received with open arms into union with Zion, until he had taken

breath and prepared both voice and heart for so divine a song.

 

4   “I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me:” -

This shall be a glorious subject to speak of concerning Zion, that her old

foes are new born and have become her friends, worshipping in the temple

of her God. Rahab or Egypt which oppressed Israel shall become a sister

nation, and Babylon in which the tribes endured their second great

captivity, shall become a fellow worshipper; then shall there be mention

made in familiar talk of the old enmities forgotten and the new friendships

formed. Some consider that these are the words of God Himself, and

should be rendered "I will mention Rahab and Babylon as knowing me":

but we feel content with our common version, and attribute the words to

the Psalmist himself, who anticipates the conversion of the two great rival

nations and speaks of it with exultation - “behold Philistia, and Tyre, with

Ethiopia;” -  These also are to bow before the Lord. Philistia shall renounce

her ancient hate, Tyre shall not be swallowed up by thoughts of her commerce,

and distant Ethiopia shall not be too far off to receive the salvation of the Lord -

“this man was born there.”  The word man is inserted by the translators to

the marring of the sense, which is clear enough when the superfluous word

is dropped, —"Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this was born there" —

i.e., this nation has been born into Zion, regenerated into the church of

God. Of the new births of nations we will make mention, for it is at once a

great blessing and a great wonder. It is a glorious thing indeed when whole

nations are born unto God.

 

                        "Mark ye well Philistia's legions,

                             Lo, to seek the Lord they came;

                        And within the sacred regions

                             Tyre and Cush have found a home."

 

Many understand the sense of these verses to be that all men are proud of

their native country, and so also is the citizen of Zion, so that while of one

it is said, "he was born in Egypt" and of another, "he came from Ethiopia",

it would be equally to the honor of others that they were home born sons

of the city of God. The passage is not so clear that any one should become

dogmatical as to its meaning, but we prefer the interpretation given above.

 

5   “And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her:” -

Not as nations only, but one by one, as individuals, the citizens of the New

Jerusalem shall be counted, and their names publicly declared. Man by man

will the Lord reckon them, for they are each one precious in His sight; the

individual shall not be lost in the mass, but each one shall be of high

account. What a patent of nobility is it, for a man to have it certified that he

was born in Zion; the twice born are a royal priesthood, the true

aristocracy, the imperial race of men. (The biblical formula is:  Born once,

die twice; born twice, die once.  Remember also:  Every unregenerate man

is an abortion – CH Spurgeon – CY – 2011) - The original, by using the

noblest word for man, intimates that many remarkable men will be born in the

church, and indeed every man who is renewed in the image of Christ is an

eminent personage, while there are some, who, even to the dim eyes of the

world, shine forth with a luster of character which cannot but be admitted

to be unusual and admirable. The church has illustrious names of prophets,

apostles, martyrs, confessors, reformers, missionaries and the like, which

bear comparison with the grandest names honored by the world, nay, in

many respects far excel them. Zion has no reason to be ashamed of her

sons, nor her sons of her. "Wisdom is justified of her children." (Luke 7:35) -

“and the highest Himself shall establish her.”  — the only establishment

worth having. When the numbers of the faithful are increased by the new birth,

the Lord proves Himself to be the builder of the church. The Lord alone

deserves to wear the title of Defender of the Faith; He is the sole and

sufficient Patron and Protector of the true church. There is no fear for the

Lord's heritage, His own arm is sufficient to maintain His rights. The

Highest is higher than all those who are against us, and the good old cause

shall triumph over all.  (I John 4:4)

 

6   “The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man

was born there.”   At the great census which the Lord Himself shall take, He

will number the nations without exception and make an exact registry of

them, whether they were by their natural descent Babylonians or Tyrians,

or other far off heathen. May it be our happy lot to be numbered with the

Lord's chosen both in life and death, in the church roll below, and in the

church roll above. Jehovah's census of His chosen will differ much from

ours; He will count many whom we should have disowned, and He will

leave out many whom we should have reckoned. His registration is

infallible. Let us pray then for that adoption and regeneration which will

secure us a place among the heaven born. It was thought to be a great

honor to have one's name written in the golden book of the Republic of

Venice, kings and princes paid dearly for the honor, but the book of life

confers far rarer dignity upon all whose names are recorded therein.  “Selah.”

(Reader, you and I had better take a “double-take”  on the import of this

verse for our lives for Jesus said, “What shall it profit a man if he gain

the whole world and lose his own soul?” – [Mark 8:36] – CY – 2011)

 

 

7   In vision the Psalmist sees the citizens of Zion rejoicing at some sacred festival,

and marching in triumphant procession with vocal and instrumental music: —

“As well the singers as the players on instruments shall be there:” -  Where

God is there must be joy, and where the church is increased by numerous

conversions the joy becomes exuberant and finds out ways of displaying

itself. Singers and dancers, Psalmists and pipers, united their efforts and

made a joyful procession to the temple, inspired not by Bacchus, or by the

Castalian fount, but by draughts from the sacred source of all good, of

which they each one sing “all my springs are in thee.” Did the poet mean

that henceforth he would find all his joys in Zion, or that to the Lord he would

look for all inspiration, comfort, strength, joy, life and everything. The last is the

truest doctrine. Churches have not such all sufficiency within them that we can

afford to look to them for all, but the Lord who founded the church is the

eternal source of all our supplies, and looking to Him we shall never flag or

fail. How truly does all our experience lead us to look to the Lord by faith,

and say "all my fresh springs are in thee." The springs of my faith and all

my graces; the springs of my life and all my pleasures; the springs of my

activity and all its right doings; the springs of my hope, and all its heavenly

anticipations, all lie in thee, my Lord. Without thy Spirit I should be as a

dry well, a mocking cistern, destitute of power to bless myself or others. O

Lord, I am assured that I belong to the regenerate whose life is in thee, for

I feel that I cannot live without thee; therefore, with all thy joyful people

will I sing thy praises.

 

                        "With joy shall sing the choral train,

                        The minstrels breathe the answering strain:

                        ‘O Zion, Zion fair, I see

                        The fountains of my bliss in thee.'"

 

 

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