Paean to the maiden city.

My church is reading the entire Bible through this year in personal devotionals/studies. I’m currently in the midst of the Psalms, which pass through my mind like water: refreshing, but so hard to grasp once it flows into the past. But one psalm stopped me in my tracks…

Psalm 87
A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. A Song.

On the holy mount stands the city he founded;
    the Lord loves the gates of Zion
    more than all the dwelling places of Jacob.
Glorious things of you are spoken,
    O city of God.   Selah

Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon;
    behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Cush—
    “This one was born there,” they say.
And of Zion it shall be said,
    “This one and that one were born in her”;
    for the Most High himself will establish her.
The Lord records as he registers the peoples,
    “This one was born there.”   Selah

Singers and dancers alike say,
    “All my springs are in you.”

Most of the Psalms, both petitions and praises, use rather concrete language that addresses their subject matters directly. So I paused at Psalm 87 because its language seemed a bit more oblique and metaphorical than the others. The subject is different too: instead of praising God, it praises Zion, the new Jerusalem, the City of God. The language is unusual, almost mysterious, and intimate in its mystery.

I wondered, What is so significant about being born in Zion? But I consider:

Hebrews 11:16—
But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

I wondered about the last verse, which seemed such a cryptic ending. But then the answer came:

Psalm 46:4—
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.

Revelation 22:1—
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city…

One day the pilgrims will arrive at the New Jerusalem. One day the nations will say, This one is from the City of God. There they were born, born again.

Come to think of it, the city of God is constantly “anthromorphized” in the Bible. The bride of Christ, New Jerusalem. Hmm, how curious! This makes for a rather nifty world-building scenario…

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