Zion is a symbol of Hebrew nationalism.  The return of Israelites to their homeland settling amidst the Palestinians is called Zionism.  The mount in Jerusalem is a central symbol of Jewish identity.  Psalms like Psalm 48 have helped to elevate Mount Zion.  More recently Bob Marley has taken the symbolism and changed it into something else http://www.lyricsfreak.com/b/bob+marley/iron+lion+zion_20021821.html .  Read Psalm 48 to get a sense of the original grandeur of Zion.

Psalm 48

 1 Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise,
   in the city of our God, his holy mountain.

 2 Beautiful in its loftiness,
   the joy of the whole earth,
like the heights of Zaphon[b] is Mount Zion,
   the city of the Great King.
3 God is in her citadels;
   he has shown himself to be her fortress.

 4 When the kings joined forces,
   when they advanced together,
5 they saw her and were astounded;
   they fled in terror.
6 Trembling seized them there,
   pain like that of a woman in labor.
7 You destroyed them like ships of Tarshish
   shattered by an east wind.

 8 As we have heard,
   so we have seen
in the city of the LORD Almighty,
   in the city of our God:
God makes her secure

 9 Within your temple, O God,
   we meditate on your unfailing love.
10 Like your name, O God,
   your praise reaches to the ends of the earth;
   your right hand is filled with righteousness.
11 Mount Zion rejoices,
   the villages of Judah are glad
   because of your judgments.

 12 Walk about Zion, go around her,
   count her towers,
13 consider well her ramparts,
   view her citadels,
that you may tell of them
   to the next generation.

 14 For this God is our God for ever and ever;
   he will be our guide even to the end.


  1. Where does God reside according to this psalm?
  2. How would this psalm encourage Israelite nationalism?
  3. How would you describe Mount Zion in your own words?
  4. How can the concept of Zion transcend the nation of Israel?
  5. Are there locations today where God is more present than others?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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7 Responses to Zion

  1. Kalana Mei Powell says:

    ~I’m really glad you included the part about Bob Marley in the first part. Rasta is huge in Hawaii and when I see/hear/read “zion” a few different songs come to mind–all reggae none christian.

    1) God is in the citadels (is that right?)
    2) Because this says that God is on their mountain, that they are in the holy city. What is God’s is theirs. the places that are important to them are also important to God. It would very much boost nationalism to think that your area was so good even God chose to dwell there.
    3) Mount Zion is the presence of God, purity and beauty. Joyful praise is in Zion, hearts come to worship.
    5) This is hard. So many times on the fourth or fifth question I have an immediate response and start to write that but as soon as I get one or two sentences in, i am struck that maybe I wasn’t right…that there is probably another better thought out side. My initial reaction is “no” because the Lord is in all the Earth and all of the earth is his footstool and instead we are just more open to sense his presence in certain areas. But it also speaks about Jesus being in the presence of believers when they gather, so maybe there are areas where God is more precent. And I don’t know if I would say that God is in the temples of false gods…but it seems too “into a box God!” to say that he couldn’t be there. So Mr. Worrall. I do not know. But I think I still lean towards God being everywhere equally.

  2. DevinHDunn says:

    1. The Lord resides in Zion, his holy mountain!
    2. This does support nationalism, as it shows God as being in the chosen city. God is on on “their” mountain. It belongs to the holy city of Israel.
    3. Beauty that I have never even dreamed of. A place that God is waiting to show us that is saturated by His love. Zion is a picture of the presence of God, which is a place of great joy and peace. When I think of Zion, I think of the statement, “Be still and know that I am God.”
    4. “As your zname, O God, so your praise reaches to athe ends of the earth. Your right hand is filled with righteousness.” His glory and praise goes to the end of the earth, past just the nation of Israel.
    5. There is no place on earth that you can escape the presents of God. The mount of Zion is only an image and a picture of what is greater and what is to come.

  3. Meredith Frank says:

    1. What kind of words does this psalm contain? Words of instruction; questioning words; wise, proverbial words
    2. How are Ecclesiastes, Job and this psalm related? They all consider riches and material blessings to be merely earthly elements. All three acknowledge that man will die and when he does, he will bring no treasures with him.
    3. How does this psalm reverse traditional thoughts of rich and poor? The psalm declares that whether you have great wealth, worship people who have great wealth, or desire great wealth, you need to remember that wealth does not endure. Both the rich man and the poor man’s view is corrupt because he puts his trust in the safety of money and not God.
    4. How do you envy or get distracted by rich or powerful people? I love the creativity of fashion, but affordable clothing often is not “innovative,” “bold,” or “different.” Hollywood stars and people with high-paying jobs can afford to buy those interesting, “out there” clothing pieces and oftentimes, I find myself wishing I could have those outfits too.
    5. How do you view death? I view death as the passing of the trials and temptations of this sinful world and the beginning of the most satisfying walk with God I could never possibly imagine

  4. Meredith Frank says:

    What I meant to post…:)

    1. Where does God reside according to this psalm? Mount Zion? “in the city of our God, his holy mountain?
    2. How would this psalm encourage Israelite nationalism? In v.3, God calls himself her fortress. The whole passage speaks of the Lord’s love and passion for the Israelites. He says he will make sure she is secure forever (v.8).
    3. How would you describe Mount Zion in your own words? Mount Zion is a sacred place for the Israelites because that is where their patriarchs routinely met God.
    4. How can the concept of Zion transcend the nation of Israel? This question is perplexing. I’m not sure I understand it. It is important that one’s Zionism is rooted in a love for God and not just love of nation. Zionism is reverent and holy (when practiced correctly) because it is rooted in giving thanks to God for blessing the Hebrew people. However, when it becomes an attitude of “God loves the Jews more than any other race”/ “God wants us to have this spot of land, even if it means persecuting our Palestinian brother,” I think Zionism becomes a sin. Any time patriotism rises above brotherly love, God’s heart is not being considered.
    5. Are there locations today where God is more present than others? God is everywhere, all the time; however, I believe He is more engaged with certain peoples in certain locations.

  5. Vickiel Garcia says:

    1.In His holy mountain, Mount Zion, the city of the Great King.
    2.It points out how God dwells there and how the glory of Zion can be compared to the glory of God. The beauty of their city could make the nations against them be shaken and tremble. They knew that God was their stronghold.
    3.With a river that fully flows across the mountain so that it can be seen from two sides and it has a stream that goes all around. It has big rocks all around and many, many green trees.. Some parts of it have red rocks that give it a Great Canyon similarity.
    4.It relates to God and His beauty and splendor that all nations can see, admire and tremble at its sight. When Satan and his forces come against God’s children then God shows His power, making Satan turn around as he trembles.
    5.Perhaps, He is more present in some areas as his kingdom is growing there more efficiently than in other places, but He is Omnipresent, so He is everywhere at all times. It is a hard choice.

  6. Jordan Taylor says:

    1. God resides in Mount Zion, in the citadels, in the temple. I believe the psalmist is trying to say that God is everywhere, not in everything like a pantheist or panentheist would suggest.

    2. The Israelites would have quite a bit to boast about. The psalmist says that God is here at Mt.Zion! God, the Creator of the earth! Here! In our nation! It would be very easy for us to take pride if what the Mormons say were true about Jesus preaching in Missouri. I can totally understand why this would promote nationalism as I wish God had such a special relationship with the U.S.

    3. I think Mt.Zion needs just one word to describe: Holy.

    4. It needs to happen carefully. We can’t take Zionism too far and say that God only loves Israel and that Israel should be tops in everything. However, I can partake in Zionism in the sense that I praise God for what He has and will do with the Hebraic people. I can seek to support this cause, and teach this cause. Our love for Israel I think can only go so far. The reason we love Israel should be because of God’s promise to Israel and His special relationship.

    5. I don’t know. I really don’t. It is hard to imagine that God is as present in China where the underground church is thriving as He is in Haiti, where voodoo is such common practice. What I can say is that God loves all the nations. He has a plan for each one, and we will all ultimately glorify Him. Or at least be used for His glory.

  7. Julie Nadykto says:

    Where does God reside according to this psalm?
    He is in the Mount of Zion, God is in her citadels.
    How would this psalm encourage Israelite nationalism?
    Buy looking at their position with God. How their glory is in God who is worthy off all their praise. He is on their mountain and it belongs to the Holy land of Israel.
    How would you describe Mount Zion in your own words?
    Breath taking, for God himself dwells their and its beautiful, filled with joy and peace.
    How can the concept of Zion transcend the nation of Israel?
    Im not sure I understand this question completely. That God wanted to dwell in the hearts of Israel people.
    Are there locations today where God is more present than others?
    I do not believe so, because His hand is on all the nations and his omnipresence and sovereignty is far beyond our understanding.

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