The Glories of Zion
(H) Of the sons of Korah, a psalm, a song. (1) His foundation (is) on the holy mountains. (2) Yahweh loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob. (3) Glorious things are spoken of you, City of God. (Selah) (4) I mention Rahab and Babylon among those who know me. Behold, Philistia, Tyre, along with Cush: “This one was born there.” (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) Yahweh will count as he registers the people: “This one was born there.” (7) Singers and pipers (say): “All my springs (of inspiration) are in you.”
Two repetitions point us to the message of this brief psalm. First, the name, “Zion," is repeated (vs. 2 & 5) along with the reference to the “City of God” (vs. 3). Then, the phrase, “was born there/in her,” is found three times (vss. 4, 5, & 6). In essence, this psalm is a paean extolling the glories of Jerusalem, the city which God chose to serve as the center of Israel’s worship. Of the five nations mentioned (vs. 4), “Rahab” probably refers to ancient Egypt (Ps. 89:10) and “Cush” to an area far to the south of ancient Egypt, the present day territories of Sudan and Ethiopia.
Why Zion, the City of God, is preferred above all other places on earth:
- It was chosen and is loved by Yahweh. (1-3)
- All born there are counted as especially fortunate. (4-6)
- It was a source of inspiration for Israel’s worship leaders. (7)
Chosen by God as the center of Israel’s worship, Zion is more desirable and glorious than any other place on earth.
Because we are created by God with physical bodies to house our immaterial souls, physical surroundings are important to us. We are impacted by the weather, by the foods we eat, by the smells, the sights, and the sounds that surround us. The way we arrange our living spaces reveals a great deal about the state of our inner being. How we feel physically (hungry or thirsty, in pain, robbed of sleep) influences how well we function intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. We cannot deny how strongly our environment and our bodies affect everything we think and do.
Knowing how important location can be for us, God chose a place for Israel’s worship that was quite special. Zion, the City of God, located atop Mt. Moriah, is an amazing setting, better sited, more breathtaking, more dramatic than most other places on earth. Even today, when visiting the Temple Mount in Jerusalem where the Dome of the Rock now stands, we can readily see why God chose this particular location for Israel’s worship with its bright sun, clear air, lovely view, and dramatic position. That is what a location like Mt. Zion is designed to do, to create in us a longing, an anticipation, a foretaste of the heavenly realms where God dwells in all his glory. Just as pilgrims trekking to Zion looked forward to worshiping in the beauty of the earthly temple, so we who are on our way to heaven should be longing for the beauty of God’s presence where there will be no more sin, no more pain, no more sorrow, nothing to hinder our fellowship with him. If those who were born in Jerusalem were counted blessed for being able to trace their origins there, how much more blessed are those whose destination is the heavenly Jerusalem!
While most of us are not able to call Zion our birthplace, those who know Christ as Savior can claim heaven as our forwarding address when our temporary residence here on earth comes to an end. To us Jesus made us a promise which we should value highly: “In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (Jn. 14:2 & 3).