Scriptures

Psalm 48

Introduction

This psalm, along with the previous two psalms speak about the strength of God to help His people. Although no one really knows the background to this psalm, it’s possible that historical setting could be the deliverance of Jerusalem from the attack of Sennacherib who was king of the Assyrians, 2 Kings 18-19 / Isaiah 36-37.

There are other commentators who believe that this is also speaking of the future Messianic kingdom, Hebrews 12:18-24.

Coffman, in his commentary says the following.

‘Psalms 46-48 form a group of three which we may assign with little doubt to the reign of Hezekiah, when Sennacherib’s army was suddenly destroyed, 2 Kings 19:35. They all three strike the same note of gratitude, confidence and praise, which is found in Isaiah’s references to the same event, Isaiah 29-31 / Isaiah 33 / Isaiah 37’.

Heading

‘A song. A psalm of the Sons of Korah.’

Although the headings aren’t inspired by God, they are important because they give us some understanding about the Psalm and they help us to see why it was written. The headings usually tell us four things.

1. Who wrote them, probably wrote them or possibly wrote them.

2. Information about the historical background to the Psalm. Why it was written.

3. They tell us of the tune the Psalm was written to.

4. How it was used.

The heading tells us that this is a song. The sons of Korah were Levites, from the family of Kohath, who by the time of David, served in the musical aspect of the temple worship, 1 Chronicles 9:19 / 1 Chronicles 26:1 / 1 Chronicles 26:19 / 2 Chronicles 20:19. It was David who originally organised the temple singers, 1 Chronicles 15:17 / 1 Chronicles 16:41-42 / 1 Chronicles 25:4-5.

Korah is probably most famous for his lead in the rebellion against Moses during the wilderness days of the Exodus, Numbers 16 / Jude 11. God judged Korah and his leaders and they all died, but the sons of Korah remained, Numbers 26:9-11. It’s possible they were so grateful for this mercy that they became prominent in Israel for praising God.

‘Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain. Beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth, like the heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion, the city of the Great King. God is in her citadels; he has shown himself to be her fortress. When the kings joined forces, when they advanced together, they saw her and were astounded; they fled in terror. Trembling seized them there, pain like that of a woman in labour. You destroyed them like ships of Tarshish shattered by an east wind. 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 forever.’ Psalm 48:1-8

The psalmist begins by declaring that the Lord is great, that is, He is all powerful, powerful enough to defend His people. He is worthy to be praise, Psalm 47:5-9, because He saves His people.

The ‘city of God’ is a reference to Jerusalem, Psalm 46:4 / Matthew 5:35, the city that was chosen by David as the capital of the southern kingdom, Judah. His ‘holy mountain’, is a reference to Mount Moriah where the temple was built and its location was beautiful.

Because it was a place of beauty and because of its strength, and because it was the place where God was worshipped, it was the source of joy for all the inhabitants of the earth. Mount Zion, refers to the whole city of Jerusalem, Isaiah 2:2-3.

God is in her citadels, that is, He is in the houses and places, He is their fortress, that is, He is their refuge, Psalm 46:1, and security. The kings which are mentioned may refer to the time of Jehoshaphat, where the kings of Ammon and of Moab and others, came up against Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 20:1 / 2 Chronicles 20:10.

There was an attack against the city, but when the attackers saw the beauty and strength of the city, they were astounded and fled in terror, 2 Kings 19:35-36 / 2 Chronicles 20:22-25.

These kings were overtaken by fear like a woman who is in labour, that is, the worst kind of pain, Jeremiah 4:31 / Jeremiah 6:24 / Jeremiah 13:21 / Jeremiah 22:23 / Jeremiah 30:6 / Jeremiah 49:24 / Micah 4:9-10 / Isaiah 53:11.

God destroyed these kings ‘like ships of Tarshish shattered by an east wind’, 1 Kings 22:48 / 2 Chronicles 20:36-37 / Isaiah 2:16.

The psalmist says that what God has done has been heard and seen in His city, Isaiah 1:24 / Psalm 24:10, by others. They declare that God will secure His city forever, this is also an illusion to the establishment of Christ’s church, Matthew 16:18.

You may notice at the end of verse eight, some translations have the word, ‘selah’, although no-one really knows what this word means, it’s likely it means to pause. It’s a time to stop and reflect upon what has just been said.

We can almost imagine the psalmist pausing for a breath as they contemplate the greatness of God.

‘Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love. Like your name, O God, your praise reaches to the ends of the earth; your right hand is filled with righteousness. Mount Zion rejoices, the villages of Judah are glad because of your judgments. Walk about Zion, go around her, count her towers, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels, that you may tell of them to the next generation. For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.’ Psalm 48:9-14

From within God’s temple, Psalm 5:7, God’s people meditate on His unfailing love, that is, they contemplated what they had heard and seen themselves and from others, Psalm 48:8 / Philippians 4:4.

His unfailing love is like God’s Name, it will be praised throughout the earth, Isaiah 11:12 / Revelation 7:1. God’s right hand is filled with righteousness, that is, everything which God done was just and right.

Mount Zion refers to Jerusalem and its inhabitants rejoice, whilst the villages or daughter of Judah, as some translations have it, are glad, Isaiah 1:8, because of God’s righteous judgments.

The psalmist encourages the people to ‘walk about Zion’, that is, as a group, Job 1:5, they were to walk around the city, and admire its beauty and strength. As they walked around the city, they were to ‘count the towers’, Genesis 11:4-5 / 2 Chronicles 26:9-10 / Isaiah 2:15.

They were to ‘considers the cities ramparts’, that is they were to consider how well fortified the city was, 2 Samuel 20:15 / Isaiah 26:1. They were to ‘view the citadels’, or palaces, as some translations have it, that is, they were to look at the royal palaces which were often well fortified and well-guarded.

Because God had delivered the city from those who attacked the city, the message of this was to be told to everyone, especially the next generation.

Notice the psalmist tells us that ‘this God is our God for ever and ever’, notice how personal God is to them. God is their God and always will be their God.

The psalmist says that God will be their ‘guide even to the end’, this implies that God will lead and guide them, not only for the rest of their lives but also in the life to come.

Conclusion

The psalmist called upon the people to meditate upon God’s unfailing love, which is a theme which runs through many of the psalms, Psalms 13:5 / Psalm 17:7 / Psalm 31:16 / Psalm 36:5 / Psalm 107:1 / Psalm 136:1.

There are times in our Christian lives when we don’t ‘feel’ loved by God, especially, after we have sinned against Him. The problem is our feelings can be very misleading, Proverbs 14:12, but when we take a moment to mediate upon His love for us, we begin to stop trusting our feelings and we start thinking about what we actually know as true.

We know that God is love, 1 John 4:8, we know that He loved us before we became Christians, John 3:16 / Romans 5:8. If God loved us so much before we became Christians, what makes us think He will love us less, now that we became Christians!

We may not always ‘feel’ God’s love for us in our lives but we have the assurance that nothing will separate us from His love, Romans 8:38–39. We have the assurance that He will forgive us our sins, when we confess them to Him, 1 John 1:6-9.

Go To Psalm 49

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

1 John 1:9

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