At times an ancient concept is, to us, little more than mysterious nonsense. Sometimes it is necessary to explain a commonly held ancient view or context to produce an accurate focus on an ancient writing. Much of the Old Testament reflects uncommon cultural views. At times accuracy in establishing context is crucial to establishing meaning and focus.
Strangely, this psalm was about geography, a city, not about a people or nation. It was about a geographical place within the boundaries of a nation called Israel, not about the people called Israelites. That geographical place had a significance found in no other city in Israelite territory.
The city was called “the city of God” in a way associated with no other Israelite city. Even the area in which this city was located was called “holy.” This geographical place had a spiritual significance found nowhere else.
Other nations exposed to the God of Jerusalem had a relationship with God. The city of Jerusalem was more than just the ancient capital of the Jewish nation! That city provided a blessing from God to these ancient nations, a blessing unavailable anywhere else.
The psalmist foresaw the time when all nations became citizens of Jerusalem. He foresaw that as a good thing, not a bad thing. Those who willfully became citizens saw this opportunity as blessing not subjection, as an incredible opportunity not a tragic defeat, and as cause for celebration not as a destructive defeat.
The psalmist saw ancient Israel as part of a
divine work bigger than themselves. Is God’s work bigger than
“us”? bigger than you?
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