Verses of Psalms 87

Psalms 87 Summary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

This Psalm is fittingly placed here, for it expands the thought of Psa 86:9 in the style and the spirit of prophecy. It is terse, abrupt, enigmatic, like a prophetic oracle; in its breadth of view and fulness of Messianic hope it vies with the grandest of prophetic utterances. It depicts Zion as the metropolis of the universal kingdom of God, into which all nations are adopted as citizens. The franchise of Zion is conferred upon them as though it were theirs by right of birth. It stands alone in the peculiar form in which the idea is embodied, though many prophecies lead up to it. See especially Isa 2:2-4 (= Mic 4:1-3); Isa 11:10; Isa 18:7; Isa 19:19 ff; Isa 44:5; Isa 60:1 ff.; Zep 2:11; Zep 3:9-10; Zec 2:11; Zec 8:20-23. Like Isaiah (Isa 19:24 f.) the poet sees the most inveterate foes of the kingdom of God acknowledging His sovereignty; he sees nations the most bitterly antagonistic to Israel, the most diametrically opposed in character to the true spirit of Israel, the most remote from the influence of Israel, brought into harmony with Israel, and adopted into its commonwealth.

Thus the Psalm is a prediction of the incorporation of all nations into the Church of Christ, and the establishment of the new and universal nationality of the kingdom of God. It is a prophecy in O.T. language of “the Jerusalem that is above, which is our mother” (Gal 4:26). It looks forward to the time when the Gentiles shall no longer be “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel” but “fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Eph 2:12; Eph 2:19). We must not indeed read the full Christian idea of the new birth into the words “This one was born there,” for primarily they refer to nations not to individuals; yet we may see in them a foreshadowing of the truth that a new birth is requisite for entrance into the kingdom of God (Joh 3:3 ff.).

The Psalm has been assigned, with considerable plausibility, to the age of Hezekiah. (1) The same loving enthusiasm for Zion, and the same hopes of the conversion of the nations, meet us in the Psalms and prophecies of that period. See especially Psalms 46, 47, 48, 76; Isa 19:24 f. (2) ‘Rahab’ is Isaiah’s name for Egypt (Psa 30:7, R.V.), which was a leading power at the time; Babylon was brought into contact with Judah (Isaiah 39); the Philistines had been subjugated by Hezekiah (2Ki 18:8); the Ethiopians were coming into notice (Isaiah 18; Isa 37:9); and after the retreat of Sennacherib many nations sent congratulatory embassies to Hezekiah with gifts for the Temple (2Ch 32:23).

On the other hand the parallels of thought and language with the later part of the book of Isaiah (especially Isa 44:5; Isa 60:1 ff.) and Zechariah, are not less striking; and the mention of Babylon rather than Assyria points to a date after that power had taken the place of Assyria as the mistress of Western Asia. Egypt, the ancient enemy, and Babylon, the recent oppressor, are named as the typical foes of God’s people. It seems best then to suppose that the Psalm was written (like Psalms 85) after the Return from Babylon, to cheer the drooping spirits of those returned exiles who were in danger of being utterly disheartened by the disappointing contrast between the weakness and insignificance of their little community, and the grandeur and magnificence of the prophetic promises of the future glory and greatness of Zion. In poetic language and with prophetic authority it reasserts the fundamental truths of Jehovah’s choice of Zion, and of Zion’s destiny in relation to the nations. Never had such encouragement been more needed; never was such a faith more clearly the fruit of divine inspiration.

The Psalm consists of two stanzas with a concluding verse.

i. Zion is the city of God, founded and beloved by Him, the heir of glorious promises (Psa 87:1-3).

ii. God proclaims that it is His will to reconcile her ancient enemies to Himself and incorporate them as her citizens. Zion shall be the mother-city of the nations of the world (Psa 87:4-6).

iii. A picture of the rejoicing of those who find in her the source of every joy (Psa 87:7).

Verses of Psalms 87

Consult other comments:

Psalms 87:0 - Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Psalms 87:0 - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Psalms 87:0 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

Psalms 87:0 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Psalms 87:0 - Matthew Henry's Whole Bible Commentary

Psalms 87:0 - Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Psalms 87:0 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

Psalms 87:0 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

Psalms 87:0 - Whedon's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges