Daily Devotional

July 26

Day 207: Psalm 87

by John Calvin

The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than any of the dwellings of Jacob. Here we are taught that all the excellence of the holy city depended on the free choice which God had made of it. If it is demanded why Jerusalem was so highly distinguished, let this short answer be deemed sufficient, Because it so pleased God. To this the divine love is to be traced as its source; but the end of such a choice was, that there might be some fixed place in which the true religion should be preserved, and the unity of the faith maintained, until the advent of Christ, and from which it might afterwards flow into all the regions of the earth. This, then, explains why the prophet celebrates Jerusalem as possessing the high distinction of having God for its master-builder, its founder and protector.

Indeed, of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in her, and the Most High himself will establish her.” The condition upon which Christ espouses the faithful to himself is, that they should forget their own people and their father’s house (Ps. 45:10), and that, being formed into new creatures, and born again of incorruptible seed, they should begin to be the children of God as well as of the Church (Gal. 4:19). And the ministry of the Church and it alone, is undoubtedly the means by which we are born again to a heavenly life. We should remember the difference which the Apostle sets forth as subsisting between the earthly Jerusalem,—which, being herself a bondwoman, brings forth children also in bondage,—and the heavenly Jerusalem, which brings forth free children by the instrumentality of the Gospel.

"The LORD will write in the register of the peoples. Those who are the bondslaves of Satan and of sin will assuredly never be able to obtain, by any efforts of their own, the right of citizenship in the heavenly Jerusalem. It is the Lord’s peculiar work to divide people into their respective ranks, distinguishing one from another, as seems good to him, all men being on a level by nature. This passage is to be understood as referring to effectual calling. God, it is true, wrote the names of his children in the Book of Life before the creation of the world; but he enrols them in the catalogue of his saints, only when, having regenerated them by the Spirit of adoption, he impresses his own mark upon them.


Welcome to a one-year devotional by John Calvin (1509-1564) on the Psalms. We are indebted to P & R Publishing for permission to use this copyrighted material from John Calvin: A Heart Aflame on the OPC Web site. In addition to viewing the daily devotional reading here, you may like to purchase a copy of the book A Heart Aflame from P & R Publishing or your local bookstore.

John Calvin, A Heart Aflame: Daily Readings from Calvin on the Psalms, is copyright © 1999 by P & R Publishing Company, all rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise—except for brief quotations for the purpose of review or comment, without the prior permission of the publisher, P & R Publishing Company, P.O. Box 817, Phillipsburg, New Jersey 08865-0817.

Unless marked by an asterisk, italic Scripture excerpts preceding Calvin's exposition are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House, all rights reserved. Phrases of Scripture within Calvin's exposition are based on an unidentified older translation, or in rare instances modified to conform to the NIV excerpts preceding Calvin's exposition.

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