Eternal God, on this your day I offer you highest praise. I want worthily to honor your name.
Read PSALM 48
A song. A psalm of the Sons of Korah.
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.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Invite the Spirit of God to fill your heart once again with the praise of God. ‘Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.’1
This psalm invites us to revel in the protection and provision of God. The opening and closing sections reflect on the beauty of what God has done for and among his people, expressed in extravagant terms – Zion (Jerusalem) is breathtaking in its beauty, its elevation over the coastal plains, its fortifications. When we encounter the wonder of what God has done, there is sometimes nothing more to be done than to drink it in.
The central section gives us reasons for this wonder – and, as with the preceding psalms, there is a powerful mix of nationalism and universalism. It is clear that this is the God of Israel, the Lord; he is a warrior for Israel as the ‘Lord of hosts’ (v 8, AV), the armies of Israel; and he has utterly defeated the enemies of Israel. Yet this is not a naked exercise of power – it comes from God’s nature as someone who is characterized by his steadfast love and kindness to Israel (the term hesed, ‘steadfast’ or ‘unfailing’ love in v 9). It comes, too, from his justice and righteousness; the term tsedeq in verse 10 is used to describe scales that weigh accurately and fairly. God defends Israel not out of bias, but out of a commitment to fairness, defending the weak against the strong.
We now read this psalm with a new perspective. God’s praise ‘reaches to the ends of the earth’ (v 10) because people from every tribe, language, people, and nation have been grafted into his people.2 His righteousness has led to the offer of life to all people.3 Our enemies are not flesh and blood;4 the city and temple in which we praise God is the body of believers in Jesus, whose praise will reach perfection in the new Jerusalem.
What have you recently learned about God that causes your heart to sing? How might you express that in praise for yourself – and for others to join in?
I praise and thank you Lord, for the church universal and the church local. Bless and prosper my home church, as we seek to share the gospel with others.
1 Ps 51:15 2 Rev 7:9 3 Rom 3:22 4 Eph 6:12
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