Psalm 87:5

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 5. And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her. Not as nations only, but one by one, as individuals, the citizens of the New Jerusalem shall be counted, and their names publicly declared. Man by man will the Lord reckon them, for they are each one precious in his sight; the individual shall not be lost in the mass, but each one shall be of high account. What a patent of nobility is it, for a man to have it certified that he was born in Zion; the twice born are a royal priesthood, the true aristocracy, the imperial race of men. The original, by using the noblest word for man, intimates that many remarkable men will be born in the church, and indeed every man who is renewed in the image of Christ is an eminent personage, while there are some, who, even to the dim eyes of the world, shine forth with a lustre of character which cannot but be admitted to be unusual and admirable. The church has illustrious names of prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, reformers, missionaries and the like, which bear comparison with the grandest names honoured by the world, nay, in many respects far excel them. Zion has no reason to be ashamed of her sons, nor her sons of her. "Wisdom is justified of her children."

And the highest himself shall establish her -- the only establishment worth having. When the numbers of the faithful are increased by the new birth, the Lord proves himself to be the builder of the church. The Lord alone deserves to wear the title of Defender of the Faith; he is the sole and sufficient Patron and Protector of the true church. There is no fear for the Lord's heritage, his own arm is sufficient to maintain his rights. The Highest is higher than all those who are against us, and the good old cause shall triumph over all.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 5. This man. The word rendered "Man" is generally used for a person of eminence; and the clause "this and that man", is simply, "a Man and a Man", which some think is used as a peculiar superlative, and means, the most eminent of men, even the Lord Jesus Christ, and they suppose that He, in his divine nature, is the Highest who "shall establish the church." No doubt he is the glory of the church, and of his people Israel; but his crucifixion was the deepest disgrace imaginable to Jerusalem itself. --Thomas Scott.

Verse 5. This man. It is well to observe that the word for man, used here, is not ~da adam, the common name for man, but fya ish, which is usually employed when a name is introduced to be designated with distinction and honour. There are in Hebrew, in fact, three words to designate man, with varied signification -- ~da adam, the common name; fya ish, the name of excellency and honour; and fwna enosh, man in his weak and inferior character, as liable to misfortune, misery, and death. The illustrative discrimination with which these words are respectively employed, gives to many passages of the Hebrew Scriptures a force and significance which cannot be preserved in translation into a language which has but one word to represent all these meanings -- or indeed has no word for man but the one answering to Adam, unless indeed our "male", in a sense of dignity and strength, answers in some measure to ish. --John Kitto, in "The Pictorial Bible."

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 5. The renowned men of the church of God.

  1. Great warriors, who have fought with temptation.
  2. Great poets, whose lives were Psalms.
  3. Great heroes, who have lived and died for Jesus.
  4. Great kings, who have ruled themselves, & c. Apostles, martyrs, confessors, reformers, men renowned for virtues such as only grace can produce.

Verse 5. This and that man. The individuality of true religion.

  1. Each soul sins for itself.
  2. Rejects or accepts the Saviour for itself.
  3. Must be judged, and
  4. Saved or lost individually. The consequent need of personal piety; the temptations to neglect it; and the habits which promote it.

Verse 5. (last clause). -- The Established Church of God -- her Head, her protection, her power. & c.