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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Psalms 87

Verses 1-7

The City of God

Psalms 87:1

I. It is a remarkable circumstance that the splendid hopes of the Prophets and Psalmist of the Old Testament are always directed to a regenerated society in the future as the greatest blessing of the expected coming of the Messiah. The pious Israelite looked forward to the future of his people, that seed of Abraham which God has chosen for Himself; he did not contemplate his own future apart from theirs. And at times it almost seemed as if the sense of his personal destiny in the world beyond the grave were lost in his conviction of the great destiny of the nation to which he was so proud to belong. So it is with the kingdom of God which was to realize the brightest dreams of the Psalmist. Its blessings are for individual men and women; but they are given to them in virtue of their citizenship in the heavenly kingdom of Jesus Christ our Lord. The New Jerusalem like the Jerusalem of which the Psalmist wrote is the city of God.

II. And therefore surely it is a holy city. That is easy to believe of the Church in heaven; it is not so easy to believe of the Church on earth. For it is the perpetual reproach of Christians that the citizenship which they have inherited is too often despised and abused. We dare not measure the greatness of God's gifts to us His children by the eagerness and loyalty of our response. It is not our feeble faith but God's strong love that has laid the foundations on which this city is built.

J. H. Bernard, Via Domini, p. 305.

Reference. LXXXVII. 2. G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 249.

The Anniversaries Kept in Heaven

Psalms 87:6

I. I understand the meaning of the passage to be that the anniversaries of the future will be held for the righteous. We observe at present the anniversaries of the intellectually great of the poet, of the statesman, of the distinguished general, of the scientific discoverer. But without disparaging these, the Psalmist looks forward to a time when the birthdays observed will be on the ground of goodness. We hold the natal days of the heroes of history. What a surprise it would create if it were to be announced that a commemorative service was to be held t'5 keep the centenary of some humble woman historically unknown! And yet it is not too much to say that in the large majority of cases the distinguished have been indebted to the unknown. Many a man who has had his theatre in the world has had his metropolis in the nursery; the crucial hours of his life have been the hours the world never saw the hours spent at a mother's knee and brightened by a mother's teaching. Many a great thinker has got his wisdom from some obscure schoolmaster 'never heard of half a mile from home' from one who had all the thought in his soul but just lacked the gift of expression. Many a successful candidate for life's favour has owed his power of endurance to the cheering words of some optimistic Christian who met him at a time of despondency and prevented him from giving in. Many a toiling wrestler for the cure of human disease was first taught to love humanity by witnessing the holy patience of some humble sufferer who bore without repining, who was afflicted and murmured not, who carried the cross and made no sign. II. The man who has reached the top of the mountain has been stimulated by the cry, 'Excelsior'; but it has been oftener the voice of another than of himself. It has come from the valley, from the place of the lowly, from the scene of the undistinguished. The deeds of silent sacrifice, the homes of humble piety, the acts of covert kindness, the words of unrecorded righteousness, the examples of unpublished purity these have been the sources of human greatness.

G. Matheson, Messages of Hope, p. 7.

References. LXXXVII. 6. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vii. No. 382. LXXXVII. International Critical Commentary, vol. ii. p. 239. LXXXVIII. 1, 3. Archbishop Alexander, Bampton Lectures, 1876, p. 133. LXXXVIII. 7. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix. No. 1090.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Psalms 87". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. 1910.