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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 4–7
Verses 4–7

Zion is here compared with other places, and preferred before them; the church of Christ is more glorious and excellent than the nations of the earth. 1. It is owned that other places have their glories (Ps. 87:4): “I will make mention of Rahab” (that is, Egypt) “and Babylon, to those that know me and are about me, and with whom I discourse about public affairs; behold Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia” (or rather Arabia), “we will observe that this man was born there; here and there one famous man, eminent for knowledge and virtue, may be produced, that was a native of these countries; here and there one that becomes a proselyte and worshipper of the true God.” But some give another sense of it, supposing that it is a prophecy or promise of bringing the Gentiles into the church and of uniting them in one body with the Jews. God says, “I will reckon Egypt and Babylon with those that know me. I will reckon them my people as much as Israel when they shall receive the gospel of Christ, and own them as born in Zion, born again there, and admitted to the privileges of Zion as freely as a true-born Israelite.” Those that were strangers and foreigners became fellow-citizens with the saints, Eph. 2:19. A Gentile convert shall stand upon a level with a native Jew; compare Isa. 19:23-25. The Lord shall say, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance. 2. It is proved that the glory of Zion outshines them all, upon many accounts; for, (1.) Zion shall produce many great and good men that shall be famous in their generation, Ps. 87:5. Of Zion it shall be said by all her neighbours that this and that man were born in her, many men of renown for wisdom and piety, and especially for acquaintance with the words of God and the visions of the Almighty—many prophets and kings, who should be greater favourites of heaven, and greater blessings to the earth, than ever were bred in Egypt or Babylon. The worthies of the church far exceed those of heathen nations, and their names will shine brighter than in perpetual records. A man, a man was born in her, by which some understand Christ, that man, that son of man, who is fairer than the children of men; he was born at Bethlehem near Zion, and was the glory of his people Israel. The greatest honour that ever was put upon the Jewish nation was, that of them, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, Rom. 9:5. Or this also may be applied to the conversion of the Gentiles. Of Zion it shall be said that the law which went forth out of Zion, the gospel of Christ, shall be an instrument to beget many souls to God, and the Jerusalem that is from above shall be acknowledged the mother of them all. (2.) Zion’s interest shall be strengthened and settled by an almighty power. The Highest himself shall undertake to establish her, who can do it effectually; the accession of proselytes out of various nations shall be so far from occasioning discord and division that it shall contribute greatly to Zion’s strength; for, God himself having founded her upon an everlasting foundation, whatever convulsions and revolutions there are of states and kingdoms, and however heaven and earth may be shaken, these are things which cannot be shaken, but must remain. (3.) Zion’s sons shall be registered with honour (Ps. 87:6): “The Lord shall count, when he writes up the people, and takes a catalogue of his subjects, that this man was born there, and so is a subject by birth, by the first birth, being born in his house—by the second birth, being born again of his Spirit.” When God comes to reckon with the children of men, that he may render to every man according to his works, he will observe who was born in Zion, and consequently enjoyed the privileges of God’s sanctuary, to whom pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the service of God, Rom. 9:4; Rom. 3:1, 2. For to them much was given, and therefore of them much will be required, and the account will be accordingly; five talents must be improved by those that were entrusted with five. I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, and where thou was born. Selah. Let those that dwell in Zion mark this, and live up to their profession. (4.) Zion’s songs shall be sung with joy and triumph: As well the singers as the players on instruments shall be there to praise God, Ps. 87:7. It was much to the honour of Zion, and is to the honour of the gospel-church, that there God is served and worshipped with rejoicing: his work is done, and done cheerfully; see Ps. 68:25. All my springs are in thee, O Zion! So God says; he has deposited treasures of grace in his holy ordinances; there are the springs from which those streams take rise which make glad the city of our God, Ps. 46:4. So the psalmist says, reckoning the springs from which his dry soul must be watered to lie in the sanctuary, in the word and ordinances, and in the communion of saints. The springs of the joy of a carnal worldling lie in wealth and pleasure; but the springs of the joy of a gracious soul lie in the word of God and prayer. Christ is the true temple; all our springs are in him, and from him all our streams flow. It pleased the Father, and all believers are well pleased with it too, that in him should all fulness dwell.