Psalm 87: This One and That One Was Born in Her
April 17, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Judges 10-12, Psalm 87, Mark 6:45-56, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
This psalm gave inspiration to one of the great hymns of the Christian faith. Written by John Newton in 1779, the hymn well expresses the essence of this psalm:
Glorious things of thee are spoken Zion, city of our God… Savior, since of Zion’s city I through grace a member am, Let the world deride or pity, I will glory in Thy name. Fading are the world’s best pleasures,All its boasted pomp and show; Solid joys and lasting treasures None but Zion’s children know.
Core to the believer’s confidence is the sure foundation of God’s purposes for his people, the church. It is well said that the church is the one institution that will last into eternity; therefore, invest in it!
“The Lord loves the gates of Zion,” verse 2. At the heart of this psalm, in addition though, is a repeated refrain: “This one and that one was born in her” (87:5); “the Lord recounts as he registers the peoples, ‘This one was born there’” (87:6). A core part of Zion’s glory is the evangelistic, missionary, outreach effectiveness of God’s sovereign power to bring more and more people to believe in him and to be part of his people.
“This one was born there.” It is a glorious thing when we look out at the church gathered and see how God has added to its number those he is saving. And conversely, it is a sorrow when we see not many (or any) added to that number. Our expectation is to be that God would add to his people; that “this and that one” were born there.
I remember an aged saint, a long-time elderly member of a church where I was on staff for a season. I remember suddenly in the middle of a prayer meeting him piping up and praying, “May it be that we will be able to look around and say, ‘This one and that were born here’ and so glorious things would be spoken of your people, O Lord.” For one steeped in the Scriptures, such a prayer came naturally to his lips. It is the earnest desire and prayer of godly men and women that God would expand his kingdom by adding to his church.
And then by the end of this psalm there is rejoicing. “Singers and dancers alike say, ‘all my springs are in you’” (87:7). Enthusiastic praise is a common expectation of the Bible, and such enthusiastic praise is motivated by, has its “spring” from, the true understanding and experience of the church of the living God. Would you, then, this morning pray that God would add new Christians to the local church, so that in years to come you will be able to look around and say, “This one and that one was born in her.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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