Psalms for Troubled Times – Psalm 87

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Having an Eternal Foundation

The Heavenly City

A Psalm or Song for the sons of Korah.

His foundation is in the holy mountains. The LORD loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah.’

As I read the beginning of this psalm, I am reminded of what was said concerning Abraham of old:

‘By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.’ (Hebrews 11:9,10)

Abraham’s faith in the Lord meant he lived his life with an eternal perspective. He did not pursue a dream of building an earthly city, establishing an empire, or making a name for himself. All of these things crumble and fade with time.

Rather, Abraham was content to live as a pilgrim, a nomad, because he lived this life in view of the next. He looked for that which had a more sure foundation – a heavenly city and inheritance – and this earthly life was for him, but a journey to this eternal rest. He was not going to settle here.

In these days of Coronavirus lockdown, we are being forced to reassess our own lives. Suddenly, so much that we took for granted, enjoyed and even lived for is gone (at least temporarily).

Let us be like Abraham and seek after the Lord, and the eternal heavenly city, and count that as of more value than the transient things of this life.

The Heavenly Citizen

The next part of the psalm moves from the city to the citizen. Note the reference to birth.

I will make mention of Egypt and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there. And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her.’

Very simply we learn that there are two distinct births. There’s physical birth and spiritual birth. (If you’re interested, Paul deals with this in more depth in Galatians 4.)

Physically, born into this world, we become citizens on earthly kingdoms: Egypt, Babylon … etc, but if we want to be a citizen of Zion, that heavenly city: secure, unchanging, eternal, then we ‘must be born again’ (John 3:5-7).

The Heavenly Census

‘The LORD shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there. Selah.

In a day to come, there will be a count made, and the only thing that will matter is your birth. Have you been born again? Do you have eternal life?

Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.’ (John 3:15)

This lovely verse tells us that anyone (the whosoever) can become a heavenly citizen by trusting in Jesus Christ, and when we do, ‘the LORD … writeth’ our names ‘in the Lamb’s Book of Life’ (Rev 21:27), thus guaranteeing us entry to that heavenly and eternal city, which hath foundations!

However, in Rev 20:15, a solemn warning is sounded for those whose names are not found written in the book of life.

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