Psalm 87 Glorious Things of You Are Spoken A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. A Song. (1) On the holy mount stands the city he founded; (2) the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob. (3) Glorious things of you are spoken, O city of God. Selah (4) Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon; behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Cush -- "This one was born there," they say. (5) And of Zion it shall be said, "This one and that one were born in her"; for the Most High himself will establish her. (6) The LORD records as he registers the peoples, "This one was born there." Selah (7) Singers and dancer alike say, "All my springs are in you." ESV
The NASB1995 titles Psalm 87: The Privileges of Citizenship in Zion. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. A Song. The NKJV titles it: The Glories of the City of God. A Psalm of the songs of Korah. A Song.
Some believe this song was written during David’s reign and at the founding of the city of Zion. The song is a celebration of being an Israelite and of dwelling in Jerusalem, but the mention of Babylon and the other ancient superpowers lends toward a later date, at least until after the temple’s construction.
A Psalm or Song for the songs of Korah. A sacred hymn and a national lyric. A theocracy blends the religious and the patriotic ideas in one . . .Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
The sons of Korah were Levites who stood at the doorway to the temple. Maybe this was a song sung at the opening of the doors. For sure, it is a celebration of being God’s chosen people.
His foundation is in the holy mountains. The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God! Selah Psalm 87:1-3 NKJV On the holy mountain stands the city founded by the LORD. He loves the city of Jerusalem more than any other city in Israel. O city of God, what glorious things are said of you! Interlude Psalm 87:1-3 NLT
The entire earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. We know this. But the Lord has a special love for Jerusalem. The place is not holy because of itself; Jerusalem is holy because God is there, and God has chosen it.
The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. For he laid the earth's foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths. Psalm 24:1-2 NLT The land of Judah will be the LORD's special possession in the holy land, and he will once again choose Jerusalem to be his own city. Be silent before the LORD, all humanity, for he is springing into action from his holy dwelling." Zechariah 2:12 NLT
God is Lord over all the earth. And He has chosen Zion as His home and the place He will return to and sit upon His throne at the end of days. Both are true. Likewise, God used the Israelite people to bring His Word and His Son into the world to redeem the world in the same way.
"I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to those who know Me; behold, O Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia: 'This one was born there.'" And of Zion it will be said, "This one and that one were born in her; and the Most High Himself shall establish her." The LORD will record, when He registers the peoples: "This one was born there." Selah Psalm 87:4-6 NKJV I will count Egypt and Babylon among those who know me-- also Philistia and Tyre, and even distant Ethiopia. They have all become citizens of Jerusalem! Regarding Jerusalem it will be said, "Everyone enjoys the rights of citizenship there." And the Most High will personally bless this city. When the LORD registers the nations, he will say, "They have all become citizens of Jerusalem." Interlude Psalm 87:4-6 NLT
In Psalm 87, starting at verse 4, the sons of Korah are now sharing the words of God.
Jerusalem is the city of God, but the surrounding gentile cities, even those of immorality, have children of God within them. God speaks specifically of Egypt (Rahab), Babel (of the Babylonians), Philistia, Tyre, and Cush (Ethiopia). These are cities or peoples that had been in conflict with Jerusalem, but God was reaching out to His children within those places and those peoples and calling them to Him, to His Holy Mountain.
Verse 6 is beautiful in the Message (which is a single author’s paraphrase of the Bible):
GOD registers their names in His book: "This one, this one, and this one- born again, right here." Psalm 87:6 The Message
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.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
A note on Bible translations, but I am not an expert. A pastor friend of mine explained the two major types of Bible translations to me: formal equivalency (more literal word for word translation) and dynamic equivalency (thought for thought translation). I try to study both when I’m reading the psalms. Above are two different translations: the New King James Version of the Bible is a “formal equivalency” or a word for word translation, or hopefully that was the goal for the translators of that particular version. The New Living Translation of the Bible is a “dynamic translation” which seeks to take an idea (maybe a sentence) and translate the meaning of that sentence. To better understand God’s Word, it’s probably best to look at different translations of respected works.
Both the singers and the players on instruments say, "All my springs are in you." Psalm 87:7 NKJV The people will play flutes and sing, "The source of my life springs from Jerusalem!" Psalm 87:7 NLT
Maybe the sons of Korah saw God writing all the saint’s names down in His Book and then all the people, from every nation and tribe and place around the world would celebrate and sing and play music for being written and chosen as God’s children. What a beautiful picture and reminder of all that we have and all that we have to look forward to.
The Source of Life, all Good Things, “all of my springs” come from the Lord.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 NIV
Father in heaven, thank you for your promises and your faithfulness. Thank you that we can counted as your children and children of Zion. Thank you for your blessings and provision. We love you and we ask that you give us strength and peace and joy to face today. Amen.