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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 87

Verses 1-7

  1. Intro:
    1. Title: Metropolis - metr/mother + polis/city (Mother-City). The capitol or chief city of a country or region.
    2. Where was your favorite home you’ve lived in? Your favorite school? Your favorite fort/tree house? That special place where God met you in a significant way? [name your spot]
      1. God also has a special place that He loves, that is dear to Him...Israel/Jer./ Zion.
        1. Oldest map of Jer. in Madaba, Jordan. 2 mil. piece Mosaic, on floor of church.
        2. Not Beijing nor Buenos Aires. Not London nor LA. Not Moscow or Metro Manilla. Not Mumbai nor Mexico City. Not Damascus nor New Delhi.
        3. Jerusalem - mentioned some 800 times by name in the bible.
          1. It stands where no city has any business standing. Why? It has no River, it commands no strategic highway, its roads have always led right out into the middle of the desert, even its topography is unusual(i.e. rocks, desert, steep hillsides, N. was mosquito infested swamp land).
          2. Jerusalem, the city of peace! Yet no city on earth has suffered more attacks, sacks, & sieges, more devastations & restorations than Jerusalem.
            1. Nine are mentioned in the bible alone, but history records at least 34 instances of Jerusalem being besieged. [Egyptians & Babylonians, Assyrians & Greeks, Parthians & Romans, Arabs & Europeans have all fought over Jerusalem] (John Phillips, Exploring the Psalms, pg.716.)
          3. Now Jerusalem is back in Hebrew hands. The Jews have wrestled it from Arabs & vowed never to give it up. Other things might be negotiable, but not Jerusalem.
            1. Yet, lose it they will when the Beast comes to reign during the Tribulation. Yet, regain it again & forever they will, when Jesus comes & sets up His throne in His Great City, the city of God, the holy city, the city of David.
    3. As we ponder this Psalm, the sons of Korah want us to take inventory of our sp life.
    4. Psalm 87 is a truly marvelous poem, but it presents problems of several sorts.
      1. First, it shows an unusual compactness of expression. Poetry is generally marked by an economy of words, but this psalm has an unusual brevity even an abruptness.
      2. Second, the poem draws on literary and theological imagery that may not be readily apparent to modern readers.
      3. Third, the poem relies on a concept that is truly unexpected, the literary device of a divine visitation amid God's people.
    5. Outline: City of God - Mother City - City of Joy.
  2. CITY OF GOD (1-3)
    1. (1) The 1st vs stands as a single-line summary of the psalm’s theme: God has set His foundation on the holy mountain, that is, He has chosen Zion as His dwelling place above all others.
      1. Lit. Hills of holiness - because He is there (not the other way around)
        1. Take off your shoes… - why? Gods presence was there.
      2. Explain/show earthly mount Zion.
      3. Earthly mount Zion is a figure of the heavenly Zion, the City of God & God’s redeemed people. (Gal.4:21-31; Heb.12:18-24)
    2. Salvation is of the Jews - Jn.4:22.
      1. God’s gracious work came through Israel. Your Bible is a Jewish book. Your Savior came from the Tribe of Judah.
      2. Build on this unfailing foundation: The foundation of the Word of God. The foundation of the bible. The foundation that originated from the Jewish nation.
    3. Are you building your life on God’s foundation? 1Cor.3:10,11 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
    4. (2) The Lord loves the gates of Zion –
    5. Map of Jerusalem - pre-modern maps of the world, particularly the one in which the Holy Land sits in the center like the eye of a daisy, surrounded by 3 petals marked Europe, Asia and Africa. Jerusalem was the navel of the world then, the meeting place of heaven and earth, the fountain through which God spread creation.
      1. ​​​​​​​Then the modern age began and mapmakers started drawing the world according to how it appeared physically, rather than allegorically.
    6. He choose there because He simply loves the place, which is sufficient & inscrutable (mysterious, unexplainable).
      1. It was the same reason He gave for loving the children of Israel, it is because the Lord loves you & chose to dwell in you, which is sufficient & inscrutable.
      2. And it is because the Lord loves you & chose to dwell in you, which is sufficient & inscrutable.
    7. (3) Spoken - introduces an oracle/statement from God. [note: I will make mention in vs.4]
      1. Not merely a high reputation in general, but Zion’s splendor will be its King & its roll or roll-call of its citizens.
  3. MOTHER CITY (4-6)
    1. ​​​​​​​(4) The psalmist listed some of the nations that will be gathered to Zion. They will be like children who were born there.
      1. God’s purpose is to reconcile people to Himself, and these statements anticipate that. Rahab/Egypt & Babylon the 2 great powers & persecutors of Israel. Philistia, the enemy which Israel never dislodged. Tyre, the affluent merchant on the coast. Ethiopia/Cush (present-day southern Egypt, Sudan, and northern Ethiopia) are the symbol of the remoter nations.
      2. These 5 nations (representing the Gentile nations) will be among the peoples who acknowledge Him.
    2. Their status is declared in 2 ways: Towards God & Towards the people of God.
      1. Towards God - Those who know Me.
      2. Towards the people of God - they are not mere proselytes(Gentile converting to Judaism, but can’t make him a Jew), the can say I was born there. Like Paul said of his Roman status, I was born a citizen.
    3. (6) God Himself is writing their names in a register, not just in the the Book of Life before the creation of the world; but he enrolls us into the “Catalog of His saints”, only when having regenerated them by the Spirit of Adoption, He impresses His own mark upon them.
      1. He figuratively describes Himself ensuring them a place in Zion, a right of entry, the keys to the city. :)
      2. So Zion isn’t only a place but a community...made up of Jews & Gentiles.
    4. Also in the LXX the word mother is added. And Zion shall be called mother in whom men of every race are born.
      1. Paul evidently had the LXX in mind in Gal.4:26 the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.
    5. Where were you born? Some like to boast on the place of their birth. Whittier!
      1. ​​​​​​​I love having a Blue Passport.
      2. But the once born do not have the blessing of the twice born.
        1. We are born from above. We are born again spiritually.
      3. Through faith in Christ, God’s children are enrolled in the heavenly Zion, and will live with the Father forever.
        1. Lk.10:20 Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.
        2. Phil.3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body.
  4. CITY OF JOY (7)
    1. ​​​​​​​This verse is a brief glimpse of the rejoicing that the other believing nations will bring to Zion.
    2. Jerusalem is one of the few ancient cities that is not built by a river.
      1. The Psalmist found all his joys in Jerusalem, and he wanted nothing more.
    3. The second line of the verse states the substance of their musical praise: All my springs/ fountains are in You.
      1. Springs/fountains signifies that Zion will be the source of all blessing and pleasure, because of the Lord’s presence there.
      2. By faith, you can drink the river of His pleasures (Ps.36:8, 46:4) and be satisfied.
      3. Our springs & fountains are for our refreshment, our strength, our spiritual power.
    4. “What man needs most is not a boost from below but a birth from above.” Vance Havner
      1. For some that means, Trust Him as your Savior & begin your pilgrimage to Zion.
      2. For others this is a reminder of our sealed reservations in the heavenly Zion.
      3. For others this is a reminder that all our springs/fountains/pleasures/blessings are in Jesus...not in business, not in our education, not in hobbies, not in earthly status.
        All our Fountains...are in YOU!
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Psalms 87". "Bell's Commentary". 2017.