Reflections on Psalm 87
Is there any hope? Are there any prospects for the restoration of our sanity, the healing of our wounds and divisions in our broken nations?
In the beginning God made us to form families as the foundation and microcosm of nations. He intended families to create godly culture. At the end of the story will come the great ingathering of the nations and the bringing of the glory of the nations into the New Jerusalem, the City of God.
Our hope is also rooted in the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12: 1-4:
And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him.
The hope for our broken lives and nations is rooted in the Abrahamic Covenant – the promise to Abraham to make him a great nation to be a blessing to all nations. We have seen this in the history of the blessing of the Jewish people and in the birth, life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
God is a missionary God. His mission is to bless the nations through Abraham and his decendants and to disciple nations through the body of Christ, the church (Matt 8:18-20). (For more on this see Discipling Nations and Emancipating the World.)
Psalm 87 celebrates Zion
Psalm 87 is a hymn celebrating the city of Jerusalem – Zion, as the city God has chosen for His presence, and the place of His name. It is the place of the great ingathering of the nations as spoken of in Psalms, Isaiah and Revelation. It looks forward to representatives of all nations, even nations that have been enemies of God, gathering to worship the living God.
References in the Psalms link the beginning of history (recorded in Genesis) and the end of history (recorded in the book of Revelation).
Psalm 86:9-10 links the call and blessing of Abraham to Psalm 87 and its message of this great ingathering of the nations.
All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.
Note in verse 9 that God has made all the nations (Ps. 66:4; 22:31, 65:2; Is 66:23; Zech 14: 18; Rev. 15:4) and that all the nations will come and worship the Lord and glorify His name.
To help us begin to grasp the depth and wonder of these word, I will quote extensively from the great 19th century pastor, evangelist and theologian Charles Spurgeon. Because he is a voice from the past who speaks soundly, profoundly and beautifully, I urge you to listen with reflection to his words. They remind us of a different time, when the Bible was expounded from a biblical worldview and not the worldview of the modern and postmodern frame.
Psalm 87 speaks of all nations
All nations whom thou hast made, and these include all mankind, since they all come of the first Adam–thy creature, and their lives are all distinct creations of thine omnipotence. All these shall come with penitent hearts, in thine own way, to thine own self, and worship before thee, O Lord. Because thou art thus above all gods, the people who have been so long deceived shall at last discover thy greatness, and shall render thee the worship which is thy due: thou hast created them all, and unto thee shall they all yield homage. … David was not a believer in the theory that the world will grow worse and worse, and that the dispensation will wind up with general darkness, and idolatry. Earth’s sun is to go down amid tenfold night if some of our prophetic brethren are to be believed. Not so do we expect, but we look for day when the dwellers in all lands shall learn righteousness, shall trust in the Saviour, shall worship thee alone, O God, and shall glorify thy name. The modern notion has greatly damped the zeal of the church for missions, and the sooner it is shown to be unscriptural the better for the cause of God. It neither consorts with prophecy, honours God, nor inspires the church with ardour. Far hence be it driven.
Why will all nations come to worship and glorify God? Because God is great (also Ps. 77:13) and He does wondrous things (also Ps. 72: 18)
– Darrow Miller
To be continued