Tuesday, April 25, 2023

2023.04.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 87

Read Psalm 87

Questions from the Scripture text: Who wrote this Psalm (superscript)? Especially for what (cf. Psalm 87:7a)? What does Psalm 87:1 describe? Whose foundation? In mountains of what is it found? What/where (Psalm 87:2a) does Yahweh love? More than where/what (verse 2b)? Than how many of them? What are spoken (Psalm 87:3)? Whom does verse 3 address? From what places will the Lord enroll people in Zion (Psalm 87:4a–b)? To what extent (Psalm 87:4-5b)? How can such naturalized (new-nature!) citizenships occur (Psalm 87:5c)? Who records this new/renewed status (Psalm 87:6)? How does Psalm 87:7a convey that this is the public worship of the temple (cf. Psalm 87:2a)? What do all the temple-worshipers think of the church and her public worship (Psalm 87:7b)?

What is so glorious about the church? Psalm 87 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these seven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God Himself is the glory of the church, and He makes her the home and fountain of the holiness of all His holy people. 

Where God’s glory is displayed, Psalm 87:1–3. There are two great places where God has appointed to be worshiped: the church and the family. He may be worshiped anywhere, and all of life is to be lived in wonder at Him and devotion to Him, but these are the two institutions that He has specifically established for His worship and for the discipling of His people that comes by that worship. 

And even among these two, the Lord has a favorite. “His foundation is in the holy mountains.” He has displayed His glory especially at Sinai and Zion/Jerusalem, holy mountains where He gathered His church—and earthly expressions not only of the third heaven, where the assembly of the firstborn now gathers, but even the New Jerusalem, that great and holy city which will descend on the last day. So great is God’s preference for public worship that He loves it more than all of the family worship of Israel taken together (Psalm 87:2). This is a glorious thing that is spoken, indeed (Psalm 87:3)!

We love private worship, and well we should, for God loves it. We love family worship, and well we should, for God loves it. But God loves public worship exceedingly more, and so will we, as our hearts and minds are conformed more and more to His.

Where God’s people are derivedPsalm 87:4-6. The list of countries in Psalm 87:4 is a who’s who of dangerous and devilish enemies (‘Rahab’ refers not to the prostitute, but is a vicious nickname for Egypt). The Lord makes Himself known among the nations, but these of whom He speaks in verse 4 are coming to know Him in a way that changes their country of origin. Instead of being “born there” in verse 4, they are now noted by others to be “born in her” in Psalm 87:5. They have a new birth from “the Most High Himself.” 

Then, in Psalm 87:6, it is God Himself Who makes a legal declaration about her as He registers the peoples. There are two ways that this happens among men, and both are pictures of what happens as the Lord builds His church: adoption and marriage. Both bring one into the full status of a family as if he had been born there. 

Believers must be strangers and aliens to their former homelands by comparison to their new allegiance to Christ. The church is their home because God is their home. The church is their family because God is their family. cf. Psalm 45:10; Ruth 1:16–17; Luke 14:26; Matthew 10:37; Ephesians 2:19; Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 11:9–10Hebrews 11:13–16.

Where God’s people are discipledPsalm 87:7. Finally, in verse 7, it is God’s people themselves who declare their origin to be in the church. The singers and players on instruments are priestly clans, who lead the public worship of the temple, which establishes the setting as public worship. Further, these are those who lead and facilitate the prayers and songs by which the Lord trains His people’s thoughts. 

Believers are to say of the worship assembly of God, and especially of God Himself, “All my springs are in you.” Having begun by the wisdom and power and life of God, let us not think that we will grow in wisdom or strength or life, except in those ways by which God Himself grows us. Specifically, as Christ the “singer and player on instruments” of the New Covenant as admonished us (cf. Ephesians 5:18–21; Colossians 3:16–17; Hebrews 2:12; Psalm 19, Psalm 119), let us seek especially His grace to us in the means of those grace, means which He has ordained to comprise His public worship.

Where is God most glorified? In church. Where do Christians belong? In church. Where do they grow? In church.

How does the church’s place in your life, your week, your hopes, and your heart reflect its glories in this Psalm?

Sample prayer:  Lord, Your church is glorious. Your glory is visible everywhere, but You display it most of all in the assembly of Your people. You have given us a new birth into Your city. You have adopted us into Your family. You have betrothed us into Your household. And You have made Your church the place where You cause the life of Christ to grow in us by the work of Your Spirit in the means of Your grace. We bless Your Name for this and ask that You would strengthen and gladden us now in that very worship assembly, through Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP86B “Your Way, Teach Me, LORD” or TPH5 “Hear My Words, O LORD”

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