Psalm 87:3

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 3. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. This is true of Jerusalem. Her history, which is the story of the nation of which she is the capital, is full of glorious incidents, and her use and end as the abode of the true God, and of his worship, was preeminently glorious. Glorious things were taught in the streets, and seen in her temples. Glorious things were foretold of her, and she was the type of the most glorious things of all. This is yet more true of the church: she is founded in grace, but her pinnacles glow with glory. Men may glory in her without being braggarts, she has a lustre about her brow which none can rival. Whatever glorious things the saints may say of the church in their eulogies, they cannot exceed what prophets have foretold, what angels have sung, or what God himself has declared. Happy are the tongues which learn to occupy themselves with so excellent a subject, may they be found around our fire sides, in our market places, and in all the spots where men most congregate. Never let thy praises cease, O thou bride of Christ, thou fairest among women, thou in whom the Lord himself hath placed his delight, calling thee by that pearl of names, Hephzibah, -- "for my delight is in her." Since the Lord has chosen thee, and deigns to dwell in thee, O thou city of beauty, none can rival thee, thou art the eye of the world, the pearl, the queen of all the cities of the universe; the true "eternal city", the metropolitan, the mother of us all. The years to come shall unveil thy beauties to the astonished eyes of all peoples, and the day of thy splendour shall come to its sevenfold noon.

Selah. With the prospect before him of a world converted, and the most implacable foes transformed into friends, it was meet that the Psalmist should pause. How could he sing the glories of new born Tyre and Ethiopia, received with open arms into union with Zion, until he had taken breath and prepared both voice and heart for so divine a song.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 3. Glorious things are spoken of the people of God. Take the church for a visible congregation, a mixed congregation; glorious things are spoken of that. It is the house of God. Take it as visible, `the vessels of honour and dishonour', 2 Timothy 2:20 , and the field, the `tares and the wheat', Matthew 13:1 etc., it is God's field. Though we take the church as visible, it hath a glorious name for the good that is in it, especially for the wheat. But take the church of God for the company of his children that are gathered by the means of grace, dwelling in the visible church, enjoying the ordinances: so they are the house and temple of Christ, `the temple of the Holy Ghost, the body of Christ, the spouse of Christ.' They are God's delight, they are spiritual kings and priests, etc. The most glorious things that can be, all other excellencies in the world are but titular things, mere shadows of things. There is some little reality in earthly things, but it is nothing in comparison, it is scarce worth the name of reality, but Solomon calls them "vanity of vanities." In comparison of the excellencies of the church all is nothing. I might be large in these particulars. It is enough to give you the generals of the delights and excellencies of God's house, "the beauty of the Lord." --Richard Sibbes.

Verse 3. The glories of the wilderness are in thee. The Schechinah, which appeared upon Sinai, and marshalled the army of the Israelites upon their journey through the wilderness, has now fixed its residence in thee, O city of God. Compare Psalms 68:17 . --Samuel Horsley

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 3. The idea of the text presents the Church as "the city of God": let us touch upon some of the "glorious things" that are spoken of it.

  1. There are glorious things with respect to the erection of the city.

    1. There is the plan of its erection. There was never a plan so faultless, so complete, so wonderful for its beauty and grandeur. The gates, the walls, the buildings, the streets, the monuments, the fountains, the gardens, unite to proclaim it a master piece of skill. The Architect was he who built the skies.
    2. There is the site where the city is erected. See Psalms 87:1 .
    3. There is the date of the city's erection. A halo and a glory attach, in a case like this, to great antiquity. Now it is long since the city was built. It was standing in the days of Paul "Ye are come unto the city of the living God." Hebrews 12:22 . David was well acquainted with it. Psalms 46:1-11 .
    4. It was standing before the flood. Noah, Enoch, Abel, dwelt in it. It is almost as old as the creation.
  2. There are glorious things to tell of the defences of the city. It has been besieged ever since it was a city at all, and it is not taken to this hour. "We have a strong city", etc.
  3. There are glorious things in connection with the stores and supplies on which the city depends;

    1. their excellence;
    2. their abundance;
    3. their source.
  4. There are glorious things respecting the King of the city; his name, person, character, etc.
  5. There are glorious things in connection with the citizens of the day. --Andrew Gray, 1805-1861.

Verse 3.

  1. Observe, that a city is not like a flower, a tree, or a plant -- something that grows out of the earth, and is nourished from the earth, and dependent wholly on its juices. It is an artificial thing, constructed by wisdom and raised by power, as it was designed by genius and forethought.
  2. A city upon earth is surrounded generally by walls.
  3. Jerusalem (the most celebrated of cities, from which this figure is obviously drawn) was built upon the brow of a hill, an extremely conspicuous and beautiful object.
  4. In a city there are various buildings, and structures of various shapes, materials and value: illustrate by the different denominations, & c.
  5. A city has municipal laws.
  6. It has also trade, traffic, & c.
  7. The figure, as applied to the Church of Christ, involves the idea of safety or security, honour, & c.
  8. There is also the idea of fewness. --John Cumming, 1843.

Verse 3. The things "spoken" of the city of God.

  1. It shall be the permanent and the peculiar residence of God.
  2. It shall be the scene of delightful privileges and blessings.
  3. It shall be invested with absolute and inviolable security.
  4. It shall possess renown and empire throughout the whole world.
  5. Its institutions and existence shall be perfected in the celestial state. -- James Parsons, 1839.
Read Psalm 87:3