What Makes You Sing and Dance?
Psalm 87: Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken
1 On the holy mount stands the city he founded; 2 the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob. 3 Glorious things of you are spoken, O city of God. Selah
4 Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon; behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Cush “This one was born there,” they say. 5 And of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in her”; for the Most High himself will establish her. 6 The LORD records as he registers the peoples, “This one was born there.” Selah
7 Singers and dancers alike say, “All my springs are in you.”
THIS IS THE PSALM that inspired John Newton (who also wrote Amazing Grace) to write the hymn Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken. The opening line of the hymn alludes to verse 3, “Glorious things of thee are spoken, Zion city of our God.” The focus of Psalm 87 is the city of God.
The city of God is not just a place. It is also the people of God. The hymn alludes to this association in verse 2, “See, the streams of living waters, Springing from eternal Love, Well supply thy sons and daughters, And all fear of want remove.”
Clearly, God loves his people. The first two verses describe God’s love for his city – his people with whom he dwells. On the holy mount stands the city he founded; the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob.
But what is it that causes the singers to sing and the dancers to dance in verse 7? I think the answer is found in verse 4.Please take notice as to who can now claim citizenship in Jerusalem as God’s people. Here we read, “Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon; behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Cush “This one was born there,” they say.”
The term “Rahab” is a nickname for Egypt. Is this not rather startling to read? People from nations once considered enemies of God and his people are now citizens of Jerusalem. People from Egypt, Babylon, Philistia and Tyre and Cush. Those once Israel’s enemies are now part of the people of God. They are the objects of the affection of God.
Does this not cause you to sing? Does this not cause you to dance? God has set his affections upon us in Jesus and has made us his people. God is in the process of keeping his promise to Abraham and through his seed, Jesus, He is forming a people unto Himself from every nation and tribe and tongue. Is it not good to be able to say, “This one was born there.”
This makes me think of Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
That ought to make you sing! That ought to make you dance!