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
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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 dancers alike say,
“All my springs are in you.”
Great Things…for God’s Enemies?
This psalm is a hymn of praise to Zion, the holy mountain of the Lord, a place beloved by the Lord. God established a foundation on Mount Zion, and glorious things are about to happen.
In the first two verses of this psalm, the poet praises the foundations of Zion. He does not explain in detail what this foundation is, but the prophet Isaiah states it further: “therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’”
Later, in the New Testament, the apostle Peter directly clarifies that the precious cornerstone that was placed in Zion is the Lord Jesus. Peter says: “you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious.”
In verses 3-6, the psalmist shows us an incredible picture. He describes Rahab, Babylon, Philistia, Tyre and Cush. For thousands of years these groups never ceased destroying, besieging, exploiting, and oppressing Israel. In Psalm 87, all this destruction is reversed. Every one of these enemies of Israel are known to the Lord and described as those who were born in Zion. On the day when the book of life is opened, the Lord will call each one of them by their name. But how is this beautiful vision to be achieved? It will be fulfilled by Christ, the living stone himself, the one whom the Lord has established as the foundation in Zion.
In verse 7, the tears once shed by the singers and dancers of Zion are replaced by something they long hoped for: a bubbling spring. Previously, when they sat by the rivers of Babylon and remembered Zion, tears “stream[ed] down like a torrent day and night.” But through the prophet Zechariah, the Lord promised something besides tears to his people: “On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.”
Those Who Imprison Us Receive God’s Mercy
These verses were written by “the Sons of Korah.” Who was Korah? And who are these descendants of Korah? When Israel went out from Egypt and wandered in the wilderness, Korah led a party of men who openly slandered Moses and attacked the Lord. In response, God split the earth and swallowed up Korah and his party. However, the sons of Korah did not die. Korah himself was rebellious and faced the judgment of God, yet his descendants were saved from death by the mercy of God. Their lives were preserved, so they sang God’s praises.
We, too, are descendants of Korah and sons of destruction. But like the sons of Korah, God has preserved our lives and granted us salvation. He has done this so that we may return to Mount Zion, to his own kingdom.
We know that we ourselves have received mercy, but do we also look forward to the vision of this psalm? Do we long for the day when those who persecute us, those who accuse us without reason, and those who put us in prison also receive the mercy of God?
He Kewang is a pseudonym for a ministry leader in southeast China who has a heart for prayer.
Dear heavenly Father,
I thank you for setting up your precious and only begotten Son as your foundation in Zion. He is the cornerstone of salvation, so that we, the sons of destruction, who were your enemies, may be saved. We may joyfully draw water from the fountain of your salvation, singing and praising you! Have mercy on those who persecute us, on the policemen, prosecutors, and judges who put your children in prison. Just as you have mercy on us, so have mercy on those who hate us for no reason. In the name of Jesus, amen!