Psalm 87:3

Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. In this joyous exclamation the poet of Hezekiah's time gathers up the joy of the kingdoms round Palestine, which were relieved of their anxiety by Jehovah's humiliation of Assyria. Jerusalem became the praise of everybody. It had become the champion deliverer of the nations. Its God had brought it glory. To it every eye was gratefully turned. We may think what things were then said; and let them suggest things that may rightly be said now of our "city of God."

I. GLORIOUS THINGS WERE BEING SAID OF THE CITY ITSELF. Events had turned everybody's eyes towards it, and everybody began to see that "beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion." Give account of the very striking position of the city; its remarkable hills, precipices, and valleys; and, according to the taste of the age, the architectural grandeur of its temple, its palaces, and its towers. When we feel kindly towards a place or person, it is astonishing what excellent and lovely things we can find in them. The church building in which we worship may really be a very plain and poor building, but if it proves the house of God to us, we soon think it beautiful, and almost worship its very stones.

II. GLORIOUS THINGS WERE BEING SAID OF THE GOD OF THE CITY. Recall the idea of the age, that the gods were limited to particular cities and countries. So outsiders associated Jehovah with Jerusalem and the Israelites, and, in recognizing the deliverance which came to them through Israel, recognized it as the work of Israel's God. See by way of illustration, how Nebuchadnezzar demands praise of Jehovah, when some mighty work has shown his superiority to all surrounding gods. Work out what things the nations round were likely to say of the God of Hezekiah. His power was declared. His concern for his people was declared. His sovereign rights were declared. His mercy was declared. God as Deliverer and Redeemer was declared. So now, if the attention of men is directed to us, to our example, our enterprise, our energy, our success, it should be our supreme anxiety that the glorious things they say of us should really be said of our God, and of his grace in us. Observe this, too, that the triumph over Sennacherib was not something which Hezekiah's people had accomplished in their own strength, but something which Jehovah had accomplished through them and for them. They had, therefore, no right to take the "glorious things that were spoken" to themselves. Nor have we. Look as we may on what has been accomplished, we are compelled to say, "What hath God wrought?" And all the glorious things spoken of us we turn away, and have spoken of him. - R.T.

Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God.
The inspired singer had the ransomed Church in view, and his soul was stirred by a vision of the new Jerusalem, its regenerated myriads gathered from every nation, and its crucified King, when he broke forth into this eulogy.

I. There are glorious things with respect to THE ERECTION OF THE CITY.

1. The plan of its erection. Faultless, complete, wonderful for beauty and grandeur, worthy of its Divine Architect and of the end in view, viz. to rear a city for Him to dwell in.

2. The site. The sure decree, the Divine perfections, the promise of Him that cannot lie, and the incarnate Son Himself, are the holy mountains, whose summits are gloriously crowned by the city of the great King. There the city sits securely, beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth.

3. The date of its erection. It is older than any of the cities of the ancient world — Rome — Nineveh — Babylon; it reaches a higher antiquity than any of them all. It was standing before the flood; Noah, Enoch, Abel, dwelt in it. It is almost as old as the creation.

II. There are glorious things to tell of THE DEFENCES OF THE CITY. It is well fortified — encircled by the sleepless providence of Jehovah, girt about with the power of the Almighty. When its bulwarks were reared, He that made them "saw that they were good"; and He said, "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper."

III. There are glorious things in connection with THE STORES AND SUPPLIES ON WHICH THE CITY DEPENDS.

1. The excellence of the city's supplies. It is little to say that there is the best of everything — the finest of wheat, honey from the rock, water clear as crystal. The bread, the water, the wine, the milk, and the pleasant fruits, are without a parallel.

2. The abundance of the city's supplies. There is enough for all the citizens. "He, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters," etc.

3. The source whence the supplies are derived.(1) They do not come from without. Its well-springs are not in the world. The corn, and the wine, and the oil, are grown where the foe is without any power.(2) There is a river that maketh glad the city of God. Yes, the city has a river — a pure river of the water of life, clear as crystal. But cannot Satan do to the river of our city as Cyrus did to the river of Babylon? The river is beyond his reach. The fountain whence it issues is within the city walls. The river-head, the perennial spring of the stream of life, is in the heart of the fortress, and in the very throne of the King.(3) The windows of heaven are right above the city; and the windows of heaven are frequently opened, and manna and other celestial products showered down, till there is not room enough in the magazines of the city to receive them.

IV. There are glorious things respecting THE KING OF THE CITY.

1. He is glorious in Himself.(1) His name — Wonderful. He is Adam, Jacob, David, Israel; Jesus, Immanuel, Shiloh, Christ; the Second Man, the Mighty God; the Lamb, the Shepherd, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah; the Branch, the Plant of Renown, the Rose of Sharon; the Morning Star, the Sun of Righteousness, the Word of God, the Alpha and the Omega, the Amen. And these are not the whole. There are many titles and appellations behind.(2) His person — full of grace and dignity.(3) His character.

2. There are glorious things respecting the King, when we consider Him in connection with the city.(1) His choice of the city is one of these. He made choice of the city before the foundation of the world; yea, the city itself was not built when it became the object of His choice, He foreknew the city; raising the curtain of futurity in the past beginning, He saw the city, He fixed upon it His love, and resolved to be its King.(2) The circumstance that He dwells in the city is glorious.(3) His sufferings for the city are glorious.(4) His victories for the city are glorious.

V. There are glorious things in connection with THE CITIZENS OF THE CITY.

1. The Dumber of the citizens. It was foretold long since that they of the city should flourish like grass of the earth, and that they should be like the stars of heaven for multitude. The population of the city is increasing accordingly. Sometimes its progress is greater, and sometimes it is less, but it is always advancing.

2. The rank of the citizens. All of them are princes — the King's own kinsmen. They are born of God, and the glorious King is their elder brother!

3. The circumstances of the citizens. In other places some are rich and some are poor. But here all the citizens are poor. "To this man will I look," says the King, "to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit," etc.

4. The character of the citizens. All of them are on the way to perfection. They are being fashioned to the pattern of the character of the King. The climate in which they live, the atmosphere which they breathe, the diet on which they are fed, and the exercises they engage in, have a powerful tendency to produce a resemblance between them and Him, and to conform them to His image. The beauty of the Lord descends upon them more and more.

5. The employment of the citizens.

6. The privileges of the citizens.

(1)They are served and protected by the King's attendants and guards.

(2)They are permitted to eat fruit in the King's garden.

(3)They may enter the King's palace, and approach His throne.

(Andrew Gray.)

Glorious things are spoken of our New Testament Zion —


I. It is populous. The polished European is there, and the rude islander from the great Pacific; the dark Ethiopian on whom the sun has looked down; and the wild dweller under the North Star from his dreary regions of perpetual snow. The philosopher is in Zion with his extensive learning and habits of independent thought, in humble submission to the Cross. The cottager is there, who has read and known little but his Bible; and the child, who, receiving the Gospel in its simplicty to his infant heart, has been set forth as a pattern to the older by Him who said, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven."

2. It is increasing; but its past triumphs are not to be compared with its future glory. A time is coming when the Gospel shall be preached to all, when the true light shall shine in the dark places of the earth, and "the isles shall wait for His law."

3. Zion is a magnificent, because a well planned city. Glorious things are spoken of its situation. It has not an unhealthy site by the slough of despond, or a disagreeable position beside the habitations of horrid cruelty: "His foundation is in the holy mountains." Many cities are overcrowded, and while their best streets are beautiful and spacious, their alleys are the abodes of misery and the nurseries of disease: but this city has abundant convenience and blessings for all.

II. AS THE SEAT OF THE GREAT KING. Many cities are beautiful in themselves, but want the honour of the metropolis. This is the capital of the dominions of a Monarch who is "higher than the kings of the earth" — God in the person of Jesus Christ. He is great —

1. In His character.

2. In His dominions.

3. In His actions.

4. In His speech. His decrees and revelations are not only superior to any statements to be found elsewhere in their cheering and instructive nature, but in the length of their duration. The edicts of other kings soon pass out of date; those of the King of Zion are eternal.


1. Zion is the abode of a people who are happy, because they are well governed. The first element in a good government is a strong mutual affection between the prince and the people.

2. The inhabitants of Zion are happy, because well conducted. A realm whose inhabitants are idle can never be a happy one: and Christians, besides being taught not to be slothful in the common business of life, are told likewise to be active in their Master's work.

3. Zion is the abode of a people who are happy because all their wants are abundantly supplied. There is never a famine of spiritual food in that glorious and happy place.

(W. Dickson.)


1. A city, well-built and fortified.

2. It is the city of God.

(1)He is its Architect and Builder.

(2)He dwells in it.

(3)He reigns over it.


1. Its purity. There is no guilt there; for "the people that dwell therein are forgiven their iniquities." There is no defilement there; for "they have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." There are no remains of transgression there; for "they are without fault before the throne of God." The place itself is holy, and all who dwell in it are holy, in every possible respect. Their actions, conversation, desires, and thoughts, are all holy. Nor is it merely by the absence of sin the city is distinguished. There all the fruits of righteousness abound, and in every member of its glorified community the Spirit takes up His abode, filling him with light, and life, and love.

2. Its magnificence. There is the throne of God and of the Lamb. If He were not there, it would be like a city wrapped in night; but because He is there, it shines with the brightness of perpetual day. Hence He is the object on which all eyes gaze.

3. Its opulence. Universal plenty. No toil, no anxious cares, nor disappointed hopes. Its inhabitants have for their portion God Himself, who is all in all. They are His people, and He is their God, and from the boundless resources of His nature they are ever supplied with the richest blessings.

4. Its permanence. It is an "abiding city"; "a city that hath foundations"; "a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens"; "an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away."


1. The necessity of personal holiness.

2. Learn, while dwelling in the vale below, to live as citizens of heaven.

3. Learn what estimate to put upon the things of time and sense. They are evanescent as the vapour which appeareth for a little time and then passeth away. There is nothing certain but death; there is nothing true but God; there is nothing permanent but heaven.

(Thornley Smith.)

Glorious things are spoken of —

1. Its Founder.

2. Its privileges, Pardon, instruction, comfort.

3. Its eminent characters.

4. Its perpetual security.

5. Its future extent and magnificence.

(J. Jowett, M. A.)

By universal consent Zion is regarded as type of the Christian Church.

I. This mother IS GLORIOUS IS HER REPUTATION. (Ver. 3). She has the reputation —

1. For the highest intelligence. To her are committed the oracles of God. She is the receptacle and the revealer of heavenly intelligence.

2. For self-sacrificing love. The love which she possesses is of the same kind as that which the Son of God exemplifies — an unconquerable love for souls.

3. For the most beneficent achievements. She has created Christendom. All the arts that bless and adorn the civilized world must he ascribed to her. Her great work is to save souls.

II. This mother is DIVINE IN HER RESOURCES (ver. 5). She has had her enemies. Her continuance can only be ascribed to Divine support.

1. In what does God establish the Church? In truth and love. She is like a tree which He roots and grounds in love; like a vessel which He fastens in the firmest anchorage; like a house which He builds upon a rock.

2. How does God establish the Church? He thus gives her "power, love, and a sound mind."

III. This mother IS ILLUSTRIOUS IN HER FAMILY. 1 Her children are men. "This and that man was born there." Many call her mother whom she disowns.

2. Her children have their birth divinely registered. "When He writeth up."

3. Her children are distinguished by every variety of mind (ver. 7). There is the impulsive Peter, the heroic Paul, and the scientific Luke, and the lamb-like John. There is no monotony in her domestic circle.


Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.
I. IN THEIR LITERAL REFERENCE TO THE JEWISH METROPOLIS, Jerusalem was truly the "city of God"; the city which He particularly chose — to which He paid especial regard. Hence "glorious things" were spoken of her.

1. There was the seat of the civil government.

2. There the Divine ordinances were celebrated

3. There was the general rendezvous of all the Israelitish tribes.

4. This city received a glorious name, "vision of peace"; and was at length honoured with the presence of our Lord, "the Prince of Peace."

II. IN THEIR SPIRITUAL APPLICATION TO THE CHURCH OF CHRIST. St. Paul styles this "Jerusalem which is from above, which is the mother of us all" — of all believers (Galatians 4:26). Hence Christians are represented as "fellow-citizens" (Ephesians 2:19) Now of this spiritual city, the antitype of Zion, glorious things are spoken: —

1. That she is gloriously founded by the living God.

2. That she possesses glorious privileges.

3. That she contains glorious inhabitants.

4. That glorious promises shall be accomplished in her (Isaiah 55.).


(Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)

Glorious things are spoken of —

1. Its security.

2. Its beauty.

3. The privileges enjoyed by its inhabitants. Theirs are the present and palpable advantages connected with a life of piety; evil things are sent them in mercy, and of the good things of life they have the real benefit and enjoyment, and possess them with God's blessing. Theirs is the inheritance of grace; theirs the heirship of glory.

4. Its enlargement, and the increase of its inhabitants.

5. Its durability.

(James Kirkwood.)






(J. Smyth, D. D.)

I. First on the catalogue is the fact of God's INTIMATE CONNECTION WITH THE CHURCH. "His foundation in the holy mountains." God and His people cannot be separated. The Spirit dwells within the Church, aye, and tabernacles within the very body of each believer.

II. The second glory is found in the fact that GOD HIMSELF HAS ESTABLISHED THE CHURCH. The Divine attributes and perfections are as the foundations of the city.

III. An equally glorious fact is to be found in THE SPECIAL FAVOUR GOD HAS TOWARDS HIS CHURCH.

IV. The most glorious thing of all is THE PROMISE OF INCREASE, AND THE FULFILMENT OF THAT PROMISE. Certain nations are spoken of here. "I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there." Whole nations, you see! Yes, for a nation shall be born in a day, and men shall come to Christ as doves fly to their windows. The character of the people is here indicated. These are heathen nations, Rahab, Babylon, Philistia, Tyre and Ethiopia. Thank God for the missionary work at home and abroad, for home missionaries and city missionaries, as well as for foreign missionaries, since the heathen are at our very doors. But though nations are made mention of, it is very evident that individuals are dealt with. "This man was born there," "This and that man was born there." Yes, salvation is an individual matter after all. You cannot be saved with the crowd, though you can be saved in a crowd. It must be God's own Spirit working on heart and causing it to be new-born. Praise the Lord for this individual work among the people.

(T. Spurgeon.)

1. Her redemption and salvation through Christ.

2. Her spiritual life and beauty.

3. Her increase and enlargement..

4. Her relation to the kingdom of this world.

5. Her millennial happiness.

6. Her duration on earth.

7. Her future eternal glory.

(E. Ritchie.)

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