In Psalm chapter 50, we are introduced to Asaph who authored 12 psalms in the bible. Asaph writes prophetically as God speaks to us from Zion. Zion is not just a geographical place in Israel but a spiritual location where we learn and are exposed to God’s glory. Zion is the place where we get delivered from religious culture and immerse in genuine thankfulness and life transformation in the presence of God and the glory of God.
[Psa 50:1-23 KJV] 1 [[A Psalm of Asaph.]] The mighty God, [even] the LORD, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof. 2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. 3 Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. 4 He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. 5 Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. 6 And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God [is] judge himself. Selah.
Here in chapter 50, we see the first mention of the name of Asaph. He is the author of the psalm and a contemporary of king David. He was appointed by David as an assistant to Heman the chief musician. After David’s death and the ascension of Solomon to the throne it was Asaph who performed the dedication of the temple in 2 Chron. 5:12. Asaph is credited with writing twelve psalms altogether. This particular psalm was written 1000 years before the birth of Jesus and deals with the subject of judgment and repentance.
Verse 2 of the psalm tells us that God shines out of Zion. The idea of God “shining” is connected with His glory. The glory or “doxa” according to the New Testament usage is “the out-raying of the divine” or the “effulgence of God”. This is an attribute accorded exclusively to God and it is that which Adam in the fall desired to have for himself – to be “like God” independent of God. This has bearing on our own Christian piety as well in very practical matters of Christian faith. When 1 Tim. 6:10 tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil, the original language renders this as “the desire to shine”. Man wants to be like God. It is interesting that this verse is so often misquoted as “money is the root of all evil” – which would suggest that fallen many sees nothing wrong with the desire to shine or to be like God but that he resents the one who does shine legitimately which is God Himself.
God shines out of Zion. What is Zion? We sing about Zion and even in David’s day Zion was a metaphor for something far more sublime than a location in the city of Jerusalem where the kings built their palaces. Zion is uniquely connected with the idea of the rule of God and dominion of God in the earth. The word Zion has a twofold meaning. It means “the parched place” and the “sun-lit place”. It is sun-lit because God shines from Zion. We often pray and sing songs about Zion saying “let’s go up to Zion” but don’t realize we are asking God to bring us into a dry place spiritually. Then we complain to our brothers and sisters how dry we feel spiritually without realizing we asked God to lead us into this place.
What is it about Zion and the glory of God that can cause us to inexplicably experience a dryness in our soul? For Zion to be “sun-lit” implies illumination or revelation. When the two men on the road to Emmaus walked with Jesus they didn’t know who He was until He revealed Himself and vanished away from their sight. So they walked with Jesus in “hiddenness” for a time and then He “manifested” Himself to them. When the presence of God is hidden from us that can be a dry place spiritually that we don’t enjoy. Yet it is necessary for God to teach us and illuminate Himself to us in this way. The end result is always manifestation. The hiddenness is God’s process; the manifestation is His outcome in our lives. This is the meaning of the Zion experience that we all go through as we pursue and seek first the kingdom.