In a recent Bible reading, I came across Psalm 87:
“His foundation is in the holy mountains. The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God! Selah. “I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to those who know Me; behold, O Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia: ‘This one was born there.’” And of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in her; and the Most High Himself shall establish her.” The Lord will record, when He registers the peoples: “This one was born there.” Selah. Both the singers and the players on instruments say, “All my springs are in you.””(NKJV82).
One particular verse jumped out at me, grabbed me, and stuck with me until I recognized that the Lord was prodding me to study it further. The verse: “Both the singers and the players on instruments say, “All my springs are in you.”” (Psalm 87:7, NKJV82). For the remainder of this post, I’d like to briefly share with you the process I went through to study this verse a bit further.
#1 – READ PSALM 87:7 IN VARIOUS TRANSLATIONS…
The New American Standard Bible (95) translates it this way: “Then those who sing as well as those who play the flutes shall say, “All my springs of joy are in you””. The New International Version (84), this way: “As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in you””. And the Holman Christian Standard Bible (09), this way: “Singers and dancers alike will say, “My whole source of joy is in you””.
#2 – READ PSALM 87’S IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING/PROCEEDING CONTEXT AND NOTED SELECT PHRASES…
“You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You…All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name” (Psalm 86:5, 9, NKJV82). “The Lord will record, when He registers the peoples: “This one was born there”” (Psalm 87:6, NKJV82). “Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance. In Your name they rejoice all day long, and in Your righteousness they are exalted. For You are the glory of their strength, and in Your favor our horn is exalted. For our shield belongs to the Lord, and our king to the Holy One of Israel” (Psalm 89:15-18, NKJV82).
#3 – PERFORMED SELECT WORD STUDIES AND SEARCHED CROSS REFERENCES…
Springs, מַעְיָן (maʿyān), denotes headwaters or source.
“He sends forth springs in the valleys; they flow between the mountains; they give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they lift up their voices among the branches. He waters the mountains from His upper chambers; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works” (Psalm 104:10-13, NASB95).
“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, as the God of Israel I will not forsake them. “I will open rivers on the bare heights and springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water and the dry land fountains of water. “I will put the cedar in the wilderness, the acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert together with the box tree and the cypress, that they may see and recognize, and consider and gain insight as well, that the hand of the Lord has done this, and the Holy One of Israel has created it” (Isaiah 41:17-20, NASB95).
Rahab,רַ֫הַב (rāḥāḇ), often denotes the world as does “Egypt” (especially as it is employed in association with Babylon, Philistia, Tyre, and Ethiopia — i.e.: not Israel geographically).
“Thus the Lord will make Himself known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day. They will even worship with sacrifice and offering, and will make a vow to the Lord and perform it. The Lord will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to the Lord, and He will respond to them and will heal them. In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance”” (Isaiah 19:21-25, NASB95).
Zion, צִיּוֹן (ṣîyôn), denotes Jerusalem, the holy city, the city of God– the location where the temple of the Lord God is in Israel.
“Zion will be redeemed with justice and her repentant ones with righteousness” (Isaiah 1:27, NASB95).
“Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth, Say to the daughter of Zion, “Lo, your salvation comes; Behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him.” And they will call them, “The holy people, the redeemed of the Lord”; and you will be called, “Sought out, a city not forsaken”” (Isaiah 62:11-12, NASB95).
#4 – CONSULTED SOME COMMENTARIES AND MORE SCRIPTURES…
The word “joy” in verse seven appears in the NASB (“All my springs of joy are in you”) and the HCSB (“My whole source of joy is in you”). The verse is literally translated, “All my springs are in you” (NKJV82). Yet, the appearance of the word “joy” in select translations seems to echo the verse’s theme of worship– players, singers, dancers– in response to God’s salvation which is for all those who are repentant among all nations.
“God himself is the speaker. He publicly acknowledges “Rahab and Babylon” among them that recognize Him as their God…God points the finger also to Philistia, Tyre and Ethiopia and in each case makes the shocking announcement: “This one was born there,” i.e., in Zion. By divine edict each of these Gentile nations is invested with the full rights and privileges of citizenship as though they had been born in Zion. The divine utterance is introduced with “Behold!” which always introduces something that is shocking”.1 “This is what is spoken by God…literally, “for My knowers,” they are true worshippers (Ps 36:10; Is 19:21)”.2 “A Gentile convert shall stand upon a level with a native Jew”.3
Based on my study, I have come to understand that “All my springs [of joy] are in You” is a worshipful acknowledgement of the perfect, impartial salvation which only comes from God! It’s a prayer of thanks which can be realized by men and women, boys and girls all around the world that He is the “one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6, NASB95). The God of Israel alone offers salvation! “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them” (Psalm 148:18-19, NASB95)! “[T]here is no partiality with God (Romans 2:11, NASB95)! “Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and in the place where it is said to them, “You are not My people,” it will be said to them, “You are the sons of the living God” (Hosea 1:10, NASB95).
Being a child of the living God is certainly worth joyously singing about every day all day long throughout life’s journey long!
“Still my trust remains in Jesus though I face uncertainty for no matter what tomorrow holds His joy will be my strength and hope and it’s enough to know that He is here with me…this is a journey of joy” (Journey of Joy, Karen Pack and New River)!
With Much Joy,
1. James E. Smith, The Wisdom Literature and Psalms, Old Testament Survey Series (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 1996). Ps 87.
2. Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997). Ps 87:4.
3. Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994). Ps 87:4–7.
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