This Psalm written by the Sons of Korah is short but meaningful. Verses 1-3 read.
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
It is God who established Jerusalem as His holy city. Long before Israel existed, Jerusalem was a city. At one time King Melchizedek ruled there, he served The LORD as His priest and blessed Abraham and his future descendants (Genesis 14:17-24). God chose Jerusalem and favored her with His presence by allowing His temple to be built there. Jerusalem is the place where the foundations of Christianity were laid in the laws, Davidic line, and sacrifices. It is where Jesus taught, outside her gates He died and rose from the dead. It is where the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost and it is where salvation was offered first to the Jews and then given to the world.
But Jerusalem, Zion is more than an ancient city and more than a geographical city. It is more than the capital of Israel, the spiritual seat of Judaism or birthplace of Christianity. Zion is the people, the city of God is God’s treasured possession. Jerusalem was how the world understood God. Psalm 48:1-3 describes her this way,
Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised
in the city of our God!
His holy mountain, 2 beautiful in elevation,
is the joy of all the earth,
Mount Zion, in the far north,
the city of the great King.
3 Within her citadels God
has made himself known as a fortress.
Jesus also referred to Jerusalem as the city of the great king (Matthew 5:35). Who is the great king? Was Jesus talking about Melchizedek, David, or Solomon? He was referring to Himself. The Lord is the great King. Jerusalem is the city of God. Believer, you and I are the city of God. Matthew 5:14-16 in The Living Bible reads,
You are the world’s light—a city on a hill, glowing in the night for all to see. Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father.
And Deuteronomy 7:6-8 tells us,
For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Revelation 21:22-27 describes Zion also called New Jerusalem like this,
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.
What glorious things does this Psalm speak about Zion? It refers to a record of kept by God regarding Zion’s citizens, it refers to the Lamb’s book of life. Verses 4-7 read,
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.”
Verse 4 refers to Rahab and Babylon, Philistia, Tyre, and Cush. None are Jewish nations. Rahab was a prostitute living in Jericho who helped Joshua’s spies and saved their lives. When the city fell, Rahab was saved (Joshua 2). Her name reminds us that there were people who were not Jews who did not keep the laws and were saved by God’s grace. Rahab is the symbolic name of Egypt in the Bible and in verse 4 it refers to Egypt along with the other nations and cities listed who had long-lasting enmity with Israel. Yet, they will be counted as citizens, not naturalized citizens but citizens born there. They are no longer strangers, we are citizens, we are part of the actual structure of the city. Ephesians 2:19-22 reads,
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
In Christ, both Israel and her enemies can be transformed, born again into new creations, citizens of Heaven, the Kingdom of God. We are not naturalized citizens even though we were adopted and grafted in. It is as if we were born in the city and grown from the vine because we are new creatures, born of water and Spirit. That is only something only God can do. Ephesians 2:8-10 reads,
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 1:3-6 in The Living Bible puts it this way,
How we praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every blessing in heaven because we belong to Christ.
4 Long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own through what Christ would do for us; he decided then to make us holy in his eyes, without a single fault—we who stand before him covered with his love. 5 His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us. And he did this because he wanted to!
6 Now all praise to God for his wonderful kindness to us and his favor that he has poured out upon us because we belong to his dearly loved Son.
Philippians 3:20-21 reminds us we are citizens of Zion not this world.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Believer, The City of God belongs to Him. It is His treasured possession. He is our King and we glorify Him. One day soon we will live eternally as the Bride of Christ in the city He has prepared for us, perfectly united with Him and one another. Let’s remember who we are. Let’s reflect who He is to the wanderers of this world looking for home.