Psalm 87

The Word Made Fresh

(A psalm of the sons of Korah. A song.)

1God founded a city on the sacred mountain.
2The LORD loves the gates of Zion
more than all the houses of Jacob together.
3Magnificent things have been said of you, O city of God!
4The list of those who acknowledge me includes Rahab and Babylon,
Philistia and Tyre and Cush. “So and so was born here, they all boast.”
5But of Zion it is said, “This one and that one were born here!”
The Most High God established Zion.
6The LORD’s records of the peoples acknowledge that
“This one was born here!”
7As the singers sing and the dancers dance
they proclaim, “All my fountains are in you!”


Superscription: the 10th of the 11 “psalms of the Korahites.”

1-7: You will recognize this immediately as one of the “songs of Zion.” Verse 3 forms the basis for John Newton’s wonderful hymn “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken, Zion, City of Our God.” (Newton is most famous for another of his hymns: “Amazing Grace.”) Zion is extolled as the beautiful dwelling place of God, and also as a city with world-wide significance rivaling that of Babylon, Philistia, Tyre, and Cush (Ethiopia). The mention of Rahab is curious here because Rahab is not a place name but rather the name of the primordial chaos in which the earth was steeped before God brought about the order of creation (see Isaiah 51:9). Some think Rahab is a poetic reference to Egypt. Of course, it is also the name of the innkeeper who assisted the Israelites in their siege of Jericho, and Jericho may be intended here. Just as the inhabitants of these well-known places proudly claim their heritage, so do the residents of Zion.


This psalm expresses the feelings of the worshiper toward the place of worship. Our churches record the names of those who were born to families in the church, and we cherish those events. We have that in common with the sentiments put forward in the psalm.