Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

Psalms 48

Verse 1

(1) To be praised.—See Psalms 18:3, Note.

Verse 3

(3) Refuge.—See Note, Psalms 46:1. Prominence should be given to the idea of security from height. We might render, “God among her castles is known as a high and secure tower.”

Verse 4

(4) The kings.—With the striking picture of the advance and sudden collapse of a hostile expedition that follows, comp. Isaiah 10:28-34; possibly of the very same event.

The kings.—Evidently known to the writer, but, alas! matter of merest conjecture to us. Some suppose the kings of Ammon, Moab, and Edom, who attacked Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:25); others, the tributary princes of Sennacherib. In his annals, as lately deciphered, this monarch speaks of setting up tributary kings or viceroys in Chaldæa, Phoenicia, and Philistia, after conquering these countries. (See Assyrian Discoveries, by George Smith, p. 303.) Others again, referring the psalm to the time of Ahaz, understand Pekah and Rezin (2 Kings 15:37). The touches, vivid as they are, of the picture, are not so historically defined as to allow a settlement of the question.

Assembled.—Used of the muster of confederate forces (Joshua 11:5).

Passed by—i.e., marched by. So, according to the time reading, the LXX. A frequent military term (Judges 11:29; 2 Kings 8:21; Isaiah 8:8). Others, “passed away,” but it is doubtful if the verb can have this meaning.

Together.—Notice the parallelism, they came together, they passed by together.

Verse 5

(5) They saw.—A verse like Psalms 46:6, vivid from the omission of the conjunctions, wrongly supplied by the Authorised Version. It has reminded commentators of Caesar’s Veni, vidi, vici.

They looked, even so were terrified, bewildered, panic-struck.

Hasted away.—Or, sprung up in alarm.

Verse 8

(8) As we have heard.—The generations of a religious nation are “bound each to each by natural piety.” Probably here the ancient tale of the overthrow of Pharaoh and his host recurred to the poet’s mind.

God will establish it.—Better, God will preserve her for ever, i.e., the holy city. This forms the refrain of the song, and probably should be restored between the parts of Psalms 48:3.

Verse 9

(9) Thy temple.—This verse seems to indicate a liturgic origin for the psalm.

Verse 10

(10) According to thy name . . .—“Name” here has plainly the meaning we give it in the phrase, “name and fame.” God’s praise was up to the reputation His great deeds had won. (Comp. Psalms 138:2.)

Thy right hand is full of righteousness.—Not like Jove’s, as heathen say, full of thunderbolts, but of justice.

Verse 11

(11) Daughters of Judah.—Not the maidens of Jerusalem, but the towns and villages of Judah.

Judgments.—Perhaps here, as in Psalms 119:132, with prominent idea of God’s customary dealings with His people.

Verse 12

(12) Tell—i.e., count. So in Milton, “Every shepherd tells his tale,” i.e., counts his sheep.

Verse 13

(13) Consider.—The Hebrew word is peculiar to this passage. The root idea seems to be divide, and the natural sense of divide her palaces is, take them one by one and regard them.

Verse 14

(14) Unto death.—The words (‘al mûth) are proved by the ancient versions and various readings to be really a musical direction, either placed at the end instead of the beginning, as in Habakkuk 3:19, or shifted back from the title of the next psalm. See Psalms 9 title, ‘alamôth.

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 48". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.