July 29th 2020 – Psalm 48

"A Song. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.

 Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised
    in the city of our God!
His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation,
    is the joy of all the earth,
Mount Zion, in the far north,
    the city of the great King.
Within her citadels God
    has made himself known as a fortress.

For behold, the kings assembled;
    they came on together.
As soon as they saw it, they were astounded;
    they were in panic; they took to flight.
Trembling took hold of them there,
    anguish as of a woman in labor.
By the east wind you shattered
    the ships of Tarshish.
As we have heard, so have we seen
    in the city of the Lord of hosts,
in the city of our God,
    which God will establish forever. Selah

We have thought on your steadfast love, O God,
    in the midst of your temple.
10 As your name, O God,
    so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth.
Your right hand is filled with righteousness.
11     Let Mount Zion be glad!
Let the daughters of Judah rejoice
    because of your judgments!

12 Walk about Zion, go around her,
    number her towers,
13 consider well her ramparts,
    go through her citadels,
that you may tell the next generation
14     that this is God,
our God forever and ever.
    He will guide us forever."

Psalm 48

We may therefore sum up the message of the Psalm quite simply under two heads: what God is to the Church, and what the Church is to God. As to the first, three things may be said: God is a refuge, a high tower, to His people (3): He has made Himself known as this. This does not merely mean that His people have discovered this to be so with glad surprise and joy, but - as 4ff seem to imply - that He has made Himself known to the enemies of His people as His people's refuge and deliverer. The emphasis in 5 is on the fact that the enemies saw this, and seeing it were discomfited. This is what God wants to be and do for His people - a living, disturbing Presence within the Church. Secondly, He is a contemporary God (8): 'As we have heard, so have we seen'. One commentator says of this, 'The past, of which the nation had heard from its fathers, lives again in their own history; and that verification of traditional belief by experience is to a devout soul the chief blessing of its deliverances'. The God of history becomes the God of experience, and how wonderful it is that God should want to be our contemporary. It is not His will that He should be as a 'stranger in the land'. Thirdly, God is a Divine Protector to His people. This is the point in 12-14: the beleaguered people are asked to take a good look at the city and to see that all is still well with it. As the hymn says,

Unharmed upon the eternal Rock
The eternal City stands.