Psalm 48 - Great is the LORD and Greatly to be Praised
heading: This is the first shir mizmor , song-psalm. The others are 67-68, 87 & 92.
1. The beauty of the city of God (the universal church). - vv 1-3
a. The local churches' protection v3
2. Examples of God's protection vv 4-7
a. Protection from enemies vv 4-6
b. Protection from friendship with the world v7
3. More wonders about God's city, the church vv 8-9
a. Prophecy fulfilled v8
b. God establishes her forever. v8
c. God's mercy v9
4. God's praise and righteousness reach to the ends of the earth through the church - v10
5. Explore the church vv11-14
a. So that you can tell the next generation v13
b. God is our guide in the church beyond death - v14
v1 - The Lord should be great in the church and greatly praised.
The church should be holy.
v2 - The church should be elevated above the world, and this elevation is beautiful (Col 3:1-4).
If the church loses its elevation above the world, it has lost its beauty.
The sides of the north are not comfortable, but invigorating. You have to move or work to stay warm.
The Great King is the Messiah.
v3 - The palaces within Zion are the local churches within the universal church.
In the local churches God is made known to men, and by this knowing God, God becomes their high protective fortress. The word "high" here goes back to "elevation" in v2. In a fellowship of believers, there is safety in God.
v4-6 - I believe this happened when the kings of Moab, Ammon and Edom crossed over the Jordan to attack Jerusalem. Jehoshaphat prayed based on the Lord's promise concerning His temple, and the Lord answered through a prophet that Judah should go down, but they would not have to fight. (2Chron 20:1-30). The prophet was a Levite (v14), as were the sons of Korah, the authors of this psalm. When Judah went down to confront the attacking kings, the sons of Korah sang the Lord's praises (v19). I think those are the very same sons of Korah who wrote this psalm. I think they may have even sung this psalm in v19.
v7 - The previous event, the attack of the kings, is in the Hebrew perfect, meaning that the action is complete, so it is in the past. This is in the Hebrew imperfect, so it is present or future. That means that this psalm was written during Jehoshapat's reign some time between the attack of the kings in 2Chr 20:29 and the breaking of the Tarshish ships in 2Chr 20:37.
There is only 1 event in the Bible where the Lord broke Tarshish ships (2Chr 20:35-37; 1Ki 22:48-49). The same Hebrew word for "break"in 2Chr and 1Ki is also used here in v7.
Jehoshaphat had previously joined in military alliance with the apostate northern kingdom of Israel and nearly lost his life (2Chr 18). God rebuked Jehoshaphat through a prophet, and Jehoshaphat obeyed and was blessed greatly (2Chr 19:1-11), including the miraculous victory in vv 4-6 of this psalm.
But afterward, he went into business partnership with the wicked northern kingdom of Israel. A prophet rebuked Jehoshaphat again for this, saying that God would destroy Jehoshaphat's works, which God did (2Chr 20:35-37).
vv4-7 are the examples how God is a high fortress in the local church. In vv 4-6 He protects us from our enemies attacking us. In v7 He protects us from friendship with the world (Jam 4:4). This goes back to the church being "the mountain of His holiness" in v1.
This illustrates the warning in 1Cor 3 to take heed how we build in God's house.
Speculative heresies, pretending to bring us wealth from afar, are constantly assailing the church, but the breath of the Lord soon drives them to destruction. The church too often relies on the wisdom of men, and these human helps are soon shipwrecked; yet the church itself is safe beneath the care of her God and King. - C. H. Spurgeon
v8 - In both the victory in vv4-6, and the loss in v7, God spoke what would happen before it took place. In both cases the people of God heard and then saw it happen. Only in the LORD of hosts' city, the universal church.
The church should experience this gift of prophecy for the building up of the church (1Cor 14:1-6,39).
It could also refer to the wondrous things that we heard God did in the past, He is still doing in the church.
God establishes her forever. Selah - think about that. Think about both the victory and the loss.
v9 - In the church we must never forget God's mercy. Think about God's mercy, both the victories He gives us and His chastisements for our benefit to make us fit for the mount of His holiness (Heb 12:10-14).
Holy men are thoughtful men; they do not suffer God's wonders to pass before their eyes and melt into forgetfulness, but they meditate deeply upon them.
"Of thy lovingkindness, O God." What a delightful subject! Devout minds never tire of so divine a theme. It is well to think of past lovingkindness in times of trial, and equally profitable to remember it in seasons of prosperity. Grateful memories sweeten sorrows and sober joys.
"In the midst of thy temple." The assembled saints constitute a living temple, and our deepest musings when so gathered together should have regard to the lovingkindness of the Lord, exhibited in the varied experiences of each of the living stones. - Spurgeon
v10 - This is fulfilled by the church preaching the gospel to the ends of the earth. The gospel should result in righteous living, which God's right hand supplies to those who obey and cooperate with His leading, and which satisfies God.
v11 - God's just judgments are of both on our enemies in vv4-6 and on us in v7.
v12 - Experience more of the universal church. Count what the Lord is doing including others outside with somewhat different views than your own group.
We cannot too frequently or too deeply consider the origin, privileges, history, security, and glory of the church. Some subjects deserve but a passing thought; this is worthy of the most patient consideration.
"Tell the towers thereof." See if any of them have crumbled, or have been demolished. Is the church of God what she was in doctrine, in strength and in beauty? - Spurgeon
v13 Pray for the protection of those in danger because of the gospel. Consider the local churches.
The purpose of all the actions in vv11-13 is to recount it to the next generation.
The debt we owe to the past we must endeavor to repay by handing down the truth to the future. - Spurgeon
v14 "forever and ever" is unambiguously eternal.
He will be our guide over (not until) death.
-copyright Steve Miller 8/9/2020