Psalms 87:1. His foundation is in the holy mountains. The hills of Zion and Moriah were both holy. The exordium is bold and abrupt. Mystically, the spiritual Zion, built on the foundation of the prophets and apostles, is understood.
Psalms 87:2. The dwellings of Jacob; that is, the synagogues, to whom the temple was the common parent, and centre of unity. Respecting the levites it is said, 2 Chronicles 35:3, that they taught all Israel; the existence of the synagogues must therefore have been coëval with their order.
Psalms 87:4. Rahab. An ancient name for the middle district of Egypt, which among the Arabians is called Rib, or Rif, because of its strength and pride. So Psalms 89. “Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one slain.” So Job 26:12. “He smiteth through the proud.” The Hebrew is, Rahab. St. Peter, by the like figure, calls Rome, Babylon. 1 Peter 5:13.—Ethiopia. The Hebrew, both here, and in all other passages where this word occurs, is Cush. Psalms 68:3. He was the firstborn of Ham, whose posterity inhabited Africa, Genesis 10:6, westward of Egypt.
Psalms 87:6. This man was born there. The Jews had been of the lowest repute in the great cities, but hereafter a record should be kept of illustrious men born in Zion; and it would speak of apostles, martyrs, and confessors in the church.
Psalms 87:7. All my springs are in thee. See on Psalms 46:4. 2 Chronicles 32:30. Jerusalem, being in the bosom of mountains, was a well-watered city, which is understood of the fountains of living water opened in the heart. John 7:38.
This beautiful and favourite psalm celebrates, as does also Psalms 48., the glories of Zion. The rock on which the city stood, her walls, and her towers, all show that God is the rock of his church; and that the glory of his dwelling, and throne of his holiness, are in the midst of Zion. Hence, the foundation of God standeth sure. Of all the dwellings of Jacob, the Lord gave Zion the preference; for Zion, Moriah, and the sanctuary, are regarded as one. Here Isaac was presented to God on the altar, here JEHOVAH covenanted with a worm, here the destroying angel stayed his hand, here fire fell from heaven, and the divine glory fixed its residence in the holy place. Hence, when we enter the Lord’s house, ten thousand sacred subjects should strike the mind, and warm the affections. His temple is full of glory, and his hands are loaded with blessings for a needy people.
Glorious things are spoken of God’s Zion. In this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts; in this place will I meet with thee and bless thee. I will fill it with my glory, and here will I dwell for ever.
The next part of Zion’s glory is the conversion of the whole gentile world. He will make mention in his records of Rahab, the proud Egyptian; of the black Ethiopian, who shall soon stretch out his hands to God; of Babylon, as head of the oriental nations; and of Tyre, whose commerce was a key to the nations of the north, and to the gentiles in the west.
Zion shall be so glorious that all nations, when converted, shall glory in their spiritual birth. The Messiah confers the privilege of being born from above, on those who believe on his name. Then they are nobly born, they are free indeed, and heirs of the promises. Of this family he is himself the firstborn, that in all things he might have the preëminence. He keeps a register of their names, and when he opens his book of life, he shall from the heavenly genealogy make it manifest that this man, and that man, were born there, of water and of the Spirit.
All God’s springs are in Zion. Hence also when the thirsty soul pants for grace, as the hunted hart for the water brooks, God shall refresh it with the sweet fountains of life. Public ordinances, and private fellowship with his people, shall open the wells of salvation to the believing heart.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 87". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany