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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms
Psalms 87



Verses 1-7

Psalm 87:1-7.

V:1. Some think that this Psalm was composed to be sung, when the foundation of the temple on mount Moriah was laid; or when David fixed on the spot where the temple was to be erected.

(Notes, Genesis 22:2. 1 Chronicles 21:26-30; 1 Chronicles 22:1. 2 Chronicles 3:1-2.) Mount Moriah seems to have been a part of mount Zion. " It is his " (that Isaiah , God"s) " foundation in the mountains of holiness." Or, " Its foundation," that Isaiah , the temple"s. The abruptness of the beginning shews how full the Psalmist"s mind was of joy and admiration. The tabernacle placed, and the temple afterwards built, by express divine direction, on these holy mountains, were typical of Christ as the Foundation, and of his church, as builded on this Foundation, for " an habitation of God " through the Spirit." (Notes, Isaiah 28: 16. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. Ephesians 2:19-22.)

V:2. Because of the temple and its typical ordinances, the Lord delighted in Zion more than in all the dwellings of Jacob, and in all the secret and social worship performed by that people, who were selected from the nations of the earth, to be near unto him as his worshippers. (Marg. Ref. Note, Ixxviii67- 69.)

V:3. " Pleasant for situation, and magnificent in its "buildings, Jerusalem was... the joy of the whole earth. * There was the royal residence of the kings of Judah; " there was the temple and the ark, and the glory, and the " King of heaven dwelling in the midst of her; her streets " were honoured with the footsteps of the Redeemer of " men; there he preached, . . . and died, and rose again; " thither he sent down the Spirit, and there he first laid " the foundations of his church." Bp. Home. The glorious things spoken by the Spirit of prophecy concerning Zion, certainly related to future ages, to the coming of Christ, the gospel sent forth from Jerusalem to all the nations, the establishment of the church, and to that church itself, both as militant on earth, and triumphant in heaven. " For even that which was made glorious," (in Zion the type and feeble shadow,) " had no glory in this " respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth." " Though " thy glorious estate do not yet appear, yet wait with paticix;e, and God will accomplish his promise." (Marg. Ref.)

V:4. This is generally understood as a prediction of the calling of men, from all these nations into the church by the gospel : but it seems rather to be a comparison between the most eminent characters, which other nations had produced, and in whom they gloried; and the worthies of Zion, or the church. " I am wont to make honour able mention among my acquaintance ... of Egypt and " Babylon;... bidding them observe that such a notable " person was born there." Bp. Patrick.

V:5. " But what is this to Zion ? of whom it shall be " said in future times, that ..." this and that Prayer of Manasseh ," a great " many worthies and far more eminent . . .were born in her : " for she hath no meaner instructor than the Most High, " who shall settle her in a flourishing estate, by educating " and forming her inhabitants to the most excellent qualities." Bp. Patrick. The word rendered " Man " is generally used for a person of eminence; and the clause " this " and that Prayer of Manasseh ," is simply, " a Man and a Prayer of Manasseh ," which some think is used as a peculiar superlative, and means, the most eminent of men, even the Lord Jesus Christ, and they suppose, that Hebrews , in his divine nature, is " the " Highest " who " shall establish the church." No doubt, He is the glory of the church, and of his people Israel : (Notes, Luke 2:25-32. Romans 9:4-5 :) but his crucifixion was the deepest disgrace imaginable to Jerusalem itself. It should here especially be remembered, that almost all the sacred writers belonged to Zion, or to that despised nation, which met to worship at Zion : and no nation on earth, or part of a nation, has been preserved or delivered from idolatry, except through the revelation which God made by the prophets and apostles of Israel. (Notes, Genesis 12:13. Zechariah 8:20-23. Preface to Luke.)

V:6. Writeth up the people.] " When he calleth by his word them into his church, whom he had elected and " written in his book." Rather, the Lord will number up, at the last day, all the true children of the church; shew the eminence and excellence of their characters; and contrast them as " one in Christ Jesus," with all that which the world has admired and celebrated in ungodly men. " In " the book of life, that register of heaven, kept by God himself, our names are entered, not as born of flesh and blood by the will of man; but as born of water and the Spirit by the will of God : of each person it is written " that he was born there," in the church and city of1God." Bp. Home.

V:7 The literal version... seems to be, " They shall " sing, as those that lead up the dance," that Isaiah , most * joyfully : . . .and the burden of the song . . .was to be this, ""All my springs... are in thee."" Bp. Home. "The " prophet setteth his whole affections and comfort in the " church." The Psalmist himself evidently decides for the church, and against the world; because all the springs of life and salvation are ia the church, and none elsewhere. For " the LORD dwelleth in Zion," as " God in Christ "reconciling the world unto himself;" and "from his " fulness " all believers in every age, have received; " as " drawing water with joy from the wells of salvation." Perhaps the singing and musick at the sanctuary were mentioned, as external expressions of that joy and praise, which would most abound in the church after the coming of the Messiah. To close the contrast; " All the fountains of life, " the wells of salvation," whence I " draw water " with joy," day by day, are in Zion, and none elsewhere." (Notes, Isaiah 12: 3- 6.)


It is not merely our duty; but our privilege, interest, and whole salvation, to build all our hopes on that foundation, on which God has built his church, and his whole plan of manifesting the glory of all his perfections in complete harmony : and " other foundation can no man lay, than that " is laid, which is Jesus Christ." Those who build on this holy Foundation, thence derive sanctifying grace, and become a holy temple and priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through him. (Note, 1 Peter 2:4-6.) Publick worship, properly conducted, is most honourable, and therefore most acceptable, to the Lord; and ought not by any means to be neglected by those, who would be accounted denizens of the city of our God. When we duly consider the glorious things, which are spoken of her pleasant situation, her holy temple, her royal palaces, her fortifications; her righteous King, and his wise, just, and merciful government; the character of her inhabitants; and all their privileges, immunities, and durable advantages; we can do no other than desire to be enrolled among her citizens. After all the encomiums, which have been lavished on the heroes, statesmen, orators, poets, and philosophers, of whom Egypt, China, Greece, and Rome, and all other nations have boasted; impartiality must allow, that the despised church of God has produced an illustrious and numerous catalogue of worthies, who have done immensely more to render mankind wise, holy, and happy, than all who have appeared on earth besides. Though Emmanuel, the divine Saviour, born of Israel"s race, as Zion"s most glorious Song of Solomon , her honour and felicity, infinitely outshines all the rest; yet liis followers are justly deserving of esteem, applause, and gratitude, above all other men. But no one expects that they will receive due honour, who reflects how the Son of God himself, and his prophets and apostles were treated, as they severally appeared on earth, and performed their respective services to mankind. But in the records of heaven the meanest of those who are "born again" stands registered : " the Lord himself, when he writeth up the " people," will allow them all the privileges of citizens of Zion, and honour them before the assembled world; and this honour and happiness alone are worthy of the ardent desires of all men, in every age and every clime. For " the Highest himself shall establish Zion : " a vast and eternal revenue of praise will redound to him. from his church of redeemed sinners, and their joy to eternity shall equal their largest capacities. All the springs of life and consolation are in the church alone : and those who draw not from these wells of salvation, will most certainly be for ever put off the broken cisterns which can hold no water.


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Bibliography Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 87:4". Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. 1804.

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Tuesday, December 1st, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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