GLORIOUS THINGS OF THEE ARE SPOKEN
by Wayne S. Walker
“Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God!” (Ps. 87:3). Psalm 87 is identified as “A Psalm of the sons of Korah. A Song,” and the heading in the New King James Version says, “The Glories of the City of God.” Verses 1 and 2 read, “His foundation is in the holy mountains. The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.” As has been pointed out in previous Psalm meditations, Zion, as the city of God, originally referred to Jerusalem but was sometimes figuratively used of Israel in general as God’s chosen people. However, it was often cited in the prophets as foreshadowing the coming Messianic kingdom.
Based on this verse, John Newton wrote a rather well-known hymn about the Lord’s church. “Glorious things of thee are spoken, Zion, city of our God. He, whose words cannot be broken, Formed thee for His blest abode. On the Rock of Ages founded, What can shake thy sure repose? With salvation’s walls surrounded, Thou mayest smile at all thy foes….Savior, if of Zion’s city, I through grace a member am, Let the world deride or pity; I will glory in Thy name. Fading is the worlding’s pleasure, All his boasted pomp and show; Solid joys and lasting treasure None by Zion’s children know” (#143 in Hymns for Worship Revised).
While we should strive to avoid mere “churchianity,” we must have an exalted view of God’s spiritual Zion. Jesus Christ is “head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23). The church is like a city “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:20-21). Indeed, “the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:10-11). Surely it is true that “glorious things are spoken” of God’s spiritual Zion, the church of our Lord Jesus Christ.