Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion! (Psalm 9:11)
Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. (Psalm 149:2)
There are many psalms that speak of Zion. It is where the LORD establishes His anointed Son as King over Israel and the nations1. It is the where He has chosen to dwell2. It is the place of the help, strength and salvation that comes from the LORD3. It is where the LORD establishes justice for His people and the whole earth4. It is where the people of the LORD appear before Him5. It is where the LORD shows His mercy and favor6. It is where the LORD is revealed in His glory7. It is where the LORD commands His blessing8.
Zion is Jerusalem, the city of God. For the psalm writers, there is no other place like it. It is “the joy of the whole earth” (Psalm 48:2). There we find the temple, revealing the presence of the Lord and the place where God rules and reigns over His people.
As we have heard, so we have seenAfter the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah were carried off into exile, Jews began to believe that there must be a heavenly Jerusalem, just as the psalm writer spoke of a heavenly temple: “The LORD is in His holy temple, the LORD’s throne is in heaven” (Psalm 11:4). It is this heavenly city that endures forever and so fulfills the promise of Psalm 125:1, “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.” So the prophets begin speaking of a new city and a glorious temple (for example, in Ezekiel 40-48, Isaiah 54:11-14 and Zechariah 2).
In the city of the LORD of hosts,
In the city of our God:
God will establish it forever. Selah.
We have thought, O God, on Your lovingkindness,
In the midst of Your temple.
In the New Testament, we find this promise beginning to be fulfilled through King Jesus the Messiah and the new covenant He brings. By the end of the book, in Revelation 21, we see the New Jerusalem descending, joining heaven and earth together as one.
For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar — for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children — but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. (Galatians 4:24-26)All who believe on King Jesus the Messiah, who belong to Him by faith, are a colony of heaven, citizens of that city that is above. We are not waiting to be airlifted out of the world but for the New Jerusalem to come down. And we ourselves are now the temple, the dwelling place of God on earth (see 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 1 Peter 2:5).
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant. (Hebrews 12:22-24)
He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. (Revelation 3:12)
Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband … And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. (Revelation 21:2, 10-11)
So now when I pray the psalms and come to the ones about Zion, I recognize my place in the New Jerusalem, the Jerusalem that is above and will one day be fully revealed on earth. The city “whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10), the “better” and “heavenly” city the Old Testament saints longed for (Hebrews 11:16), and which New Testament believers also earnestly desire and seek (Hebrews 13:14).
(1) Psalm 2; 149:2 (2) Psalm 9:11; 76:2; 132:13 (3) Psalm 14:7; 20:2; 53:6; 110:2 (4) Psalm 48:11; 50:1-4; 122:1-5 (5) Psalm 84:85-87 (6) Psalm 102:13 (7) Psalm 102:16 (8) Psalm 128:5; 133:3; 134:3