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 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.
The LORD is the strength of his people. He is the saving refuge of his anointed. Psalm 28:8
One commentary describes Psalm 48 as a celebration of the architect and architecture of covenant history. It melodically presents us with a description of a beautiful, strong and fortified city. One that intimidates any enemy that approaches it and is a joy to all who dwell within its walls. If we could walk the streets of Jerusalem (Zion) today, we would see what remains of the ramparts and citadels built of Jerusalem stone. To most, they are no longer pillars of protection or signs of strength but instead, historical sights to observe. However, these defenses once surrounded the city of God and within its walls was the temple. The temple was the center of Jewish life and worship, a place where the presence of God dwelled.
In Matthew 24, Jesus foretells of the temple’s coming destruction. Jesus tells his disciples to look around. He states “You see all these, do you not? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2). Can you imagine? The temple was magnificent and surely served as a source of security and strength for its worshipers. It is said that at the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the last of the surviving Jews of the city fled to the temple, because it was the strongest and most secure building of the city. However, the destruction was so complete that today they have trouble learning exactly where its foundation stood. The visible evidence of strength and protection for the people of God, gone.
In verse 3 we learn that although the towers were important, it was God within the walls that truly gave strength to the people. Outward signs of strength cannot be our source of confidence. In some seasons, God may give us tangible evidence of His protection but when those towers crumble, we can remember that our security is in God Himself—revealed to us through His holy Word, His promises, His Son, Jesus Christ.
Following the destruction of the temple the people of God were scattered all over the earth. Surely as they closed their eyes in prayer to the God of all comfort, they would remember His picture of strength for them, they would call to mind his promises and they would again find their hearts rejoicing with praise. When we look at our lives and we feel scattered, we can consider well the points of strength and protection. Each one is a gift from God that should remind us of his faithfulness. When we are reminded, we too have a generation to tell!
- The authors of this psalm encourage the people to tell the next generation. What are some ways that you are currently doing that?
- Do you think of yourself, your Life Group, your church as surrounded and protected by God? How does that change your attitude when you are faced with opposition?
- What are some tangible signs of protection and presence that God has given you? Do you find yourself worshipping the “architecture” more than the “architect”?
Did You Know?
Some translations complete verse 14 with these powerful words, he will guide us beyond death. In Hebrew it can be translated to we shall stand by the grave of death. What a picture! Our mission is secure, in the everlasting, living Christ.