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What is Zion?

Categories Biblical Studies Commentaries (OT)

As you read through the book of Psalms, you'll see the word Zion showing up quite a bit.

And one of the questions I often get is, what is Zion Theology?

If we're talking about just a place on a map, Zion would be equivalent with the city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem and Zion are often referred to in tandem. But really, where Jerusalem is a place on the map, Zion is this idea that comes with lots of theological language surrounding it and theological imagery.

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Zion is a place in the Old Testament - it's Jerusalem. But what the Psalmist also try to communicate is that Zion is a place where God dwells. Because God dwells in Jerusalem and has chosen to dwell among his people, they confess that the city is safe and they confess that God will be their refuge.

The Psalmists also talk about Zion as a place of paradise. If you look at Psalm 46 for example, it talks about God being in the midst of this city and it will not be moved. It even says that rivers flow out from Zion to water the land. However, when you look at the topography of Jerusalem, there are not a lot of rivers that flow out of Jerusalem. So what the Psalmist is confessing is not that there are waters coming out of Jerusalem, but that as long as God is in Jerusalem the whole land around it will be blessed.

So, what is Zion Theology?

When we talk about Zion and Zion theology in the book of Psalms (and really the Old Testament), we're talking about the blessing of God and the presence of God. When we're in Zion we're in the place where God dwells and when we're in the place where God dwells we will enjoy his blessings.


*The content in this post has been lightly edited for clarity based on the discussion in the video.

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