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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 48

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verse 1

Ancient peoples connected the glory of a god with the place where he dwelt. That association is clear in this psalm. The holy mountain where His Ark resided reflected God’s greatness. This verse summarizes the theme of the psalm, namely, that God is worthy of great praise.

Verses 1-3

1. Zion’s privilege 48:1-3

Verses 1-14

Psalms 48

The psalmist praised God for delivering Zion from her enemies (cf. Psalms 46, 47). Jerusalem was secure and glorious because God had blessed it with His favor.

Verses 2-3

The lofty beauty of Jerusalem, situated on Mt. Zion, gave all people reason to rejoice. The writer compared its beauty to that of Mt. Zaphon far to the north of Jerusalem, specifically some 25 miles to the northeast of Ugarit. The NIV translation of Psalms 48:2 clarifies the reference to this second mountain. Yet what made Jerusalem truly great was the presence of the Lord in it.

"Zaphon, located north of Israel, was the sacred mountain of the Canaanites from which their high god El supposedly ruled. However, Zion was the real ’Zaphon,’ for it was here that the Lord God of Israel, the ’Great King’ of the universe, lived and ruled (Psalms 48:2)." [Note: Chisholm, "A Theology . . .," p. 264.]

The city was strong and safe because Yahweh resided there.

Verses 4-6

Besieging armies could not prevail against God’s stronghold. They turned away unsuccessful. It was as though the presence of God terrified them. The psalmist may have written these words shortly after an invading army, perhaps the Assyrians, had attacked Jerusalem and failed (cf. Isaiah 10:8; Isaiah 33:3; Isaiah 33:14).

Verses 4-8

2. Zion’s security 48:4-8

Verse 7

The east wind can be very strong and hot in Israel. Tarshish probably refers to some nation to the west, possibly near modern Spain. Ships of Tarshish were probably large Mediterranean vessels. The writer pictured their destruction as symbolic of God’s defeat of nations foreign to Israel.

Verse 8

The psalmist could confirm earlier reports of God delivering Zion with his own eyewitness testimony. The Lord of Armies had indeed defended His capital with His mighty forces. Some of the Lord’s troops were natural: Israel’s fighting force. Some were supernatural: His angelic army.

Verses 9-10

Meditation on Yahweh’s loyal love and righteousness drew praise from the psalmist as he stood near God’s house. People-who live as far as knowledge of His reputation extends-praise God.

Verses 9-14

3. Zion’s joy 48:9-14

Verses 11-14

Those who live near God’s presence can rejoice in His decision to protect them. The psalmist invited the residents of Jerusalem to examine the unscathed condition of the city that God had defended. He also urged them to report God’s protection to their children. The "daughters" of Judah (Psalms 48:11) probably refers to its cities and villages. [Note: Kidner, p. 181.] Since God had so faithfully and powerfully preserved His people, the psalmist led them in a commitment to continue following Him as their guide forever.

The people of God should view divine deliverance as an evidence of the Lord’s faithfulness and power. We should remember the instances of His salvation and share them with other people. This information will fortify our own faith, and it will encourage others to trust in Him. As long as we trust and obey God, He will defend us. An intimate relationship with God is a very secure one.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 48". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/psalms-48.html. 2012.
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