Psalm 87

87:0This is an important psalm but we do not know who wrote it. It was for the sons of Korah. This is probably the name of the musicians in the temple in Jerusalem. The temple was the house of God that Solomon built. Solomon was the son of David. He was the third king of Israel.

The psalm is about Jerusalem. The psalm calls Jerusalem by the name Zion. Really, Zion was the name of the hill on which Solomon built the temple. The Jews thought that God lived on this hill. It was his home on earth. Because they thought that God was holy (or very, very good) they thought that Zion was holy. So they called the hill of Zion a ‘mountain of holiness.’

But the psalm is really the story of two Jerusalems! Verses 1-3 are about Jerusalem on earth, the capital city of the Jews. Verses 4-6 are about another Jerusalem. We can see this very clearly in the translation from the Greek Bible below. (The translation above is from the Hebrew Bible.) 250 years before Jesus came to the earth, the Jews translated their Bible into Greek.

This meant that more people could understand it. In some places, the two Bibles are different. We do not know why. We do believe that both translations teach us what is true.

The Two Jerusalems

87:0Verses 1-3 are about Jerusalem, the capital city of the Jews. Verses 4-6 are about the Church. The Church is the City of God, the New Jerusalem. The person that wrote Psalm 87 did not know this. But God inspired them to write verses 4-6. ‘Inspired’ means ‘gave them words to say.’ The person that wrote the psalm thought that Jerusalem would become the most important city on earth. God knew that the NEW Jerusalem would be the most important city! But it would not be on earth, but in heaven where God lives.

This is a song with music, for the sons of Korah.

1 He built it on the mountains of holiness.

2 The Lord loves the gates of Zion.

He loves them more than all the places where Jacob lives.

87:2Verses 1-2: These verses are about the Jerusalem that is on earth. To give you help to understand this difficult psalm we can show it like this:

He built – it on the mountains of holiness

The Lord – loves the gates of Zion

He loves them – more than the places where Jacob lives

To the left it is about the Lord God; to the right it is about the Jerusalem on earth, the capital of Israel. The ‘mountains of holiness’ are the hills on which they built Jerusalem. They were holy because they thought that God lived there. ‘The gates of Zion’ means the whole city of Jerusalem. Jacob is another name for Israel, and the land where the Jews lived.

3 People say wonderful things about you, city of God.


4 I will remember the people that I know, from Rahab and Babylon;

also from Philistia, Tyre and Ethiopia.

I will remember that this man was born there.

5 They will say about Zion, ‘This man and that man were all born there.’

So the Most High God will make the city strong.

6 The Lord will write in his book

the names of people from different nations.

He will say about those people,

‘They were born there in Zion.’


87:6Verses 4-6: These verses are about the Church. The person that wrote the psalm did not know about our Church. He thought that people from all over the world were becoming Jews. This was probably true. But the New Testament of the Bible repeats Psalm 87:5 and says that it is about the Church (Galatians 4:26). People come to it from all over the world: Rahab (Egypt), Babylon (Iraq), Philistia, Tyre (Lebanon) and Ethiopia (Sudan) were countries near Israel.

We think that God is speaking in verses 4-6. He says that everyone that is born in Jerusalem is in his book. What does ‘born in Jerusalem’ mean? We believe that it means ‘born again.’ This is another way of saying ‘becoming a Christian.’ The name of every Christian is in God's book. He will not forget any of them. They are all included in those that say, ‘this man was born there.’ In verse 6, this means ‘I was born there.’

7 The singers and the musicians will say,

‘All my springs are in you.’

87:7This verse is difficult to translate. It probably means one of:

– The singers and musicians must use music that is called ‘All my springs are in you’

– The singers and musicians all say that their springs are in Jerusalem (this means that Jerusalem gives them new life)