Psalms 87: Born inside the Gates
Psalms 87 is certainly weird. You begin with verses that seem to need antecedents, but you don’t find the antecedents. You find some images that seem to need explanation, but you don’t get very much explanation. However, let’s try to work through this chapter a little bit.
I guess the first obvious question comes up in verse two.
Psa 87:2 The LORD loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
Zion is traditionally the mountain of God, and often times it was used in reference to Jerusalem. However, in this situation it must mean more than just the physical city because Jerusalem was just a collection of the dwellings of Jacob. A bunch of Israelites lived in Jerusalem just like a bunch of Israelites lived all over the country. Why would God divide based on a literal city? That doesn’t necessarily follow.
However, we are actually talking about the gates in this verse. For some reason, the gates are what are important. Gates were created to allow people in. They were also designed to keep bad people out. Maybe this is a piece of larger imagery. There is something important about the gates of Jerusalem that would not apply anywhere else. There is something about then that must have been different.
The most obvious thing that is different is that they protected the temple of God. They allowed people in to worship God, but they also kept it safe. We know that God does enjoy our worship, so perhaps there is something there. Let’s move on and see.
Psa 87:3 Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah.
Psa 87:4 I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there.
Psa 87:5 And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her.
Psa 87:6 The LORD shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there. Selah.
Verse three doesn’t do a lot for me, but look at verses four through six. We are going to be getting something. There is some kind of recognition that comes about as a result of being born in Zion. It sets you apart if you were born in Zion. Again, I don’t believe it logically follows that we are talking about the literal city of Jerusalem because why would that matter? There is some kind of spiritual birth that can only happen at Zion. If people are born in Zion, there was something different.
Does it feel like this is a kind of parallel?
This feels an awful lot like salvation. Think about it. If we are born into salvation, that is something that stands out about us. It is something that God would notice when He is counting in verse six. He would take notice of his children.
Overall, this is a difficult passage, but I think that viewing it from our perspective as Christians in the future, we can see some interesting things about God caring about people who come through the gate to worship Him. If you are born inside that gate, there is something special about you. We can see something about God who has a connection with those people who come to worship Him.