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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 48

Gann's Commentary on the BibleGann on the Bible

Verse 1

Psalms 48:1

greatly to be praised ..The R.V. returns to Coverdale’s rendering (P.B.V.), highly to be praised. The same emphatic adverb occurs in each of the two preceding Pss. God has proved Himself to be an exceedingly present help in trouble (Psalms 46:1); by His triumph over the nations He is exceedingly exalted (Psalms 47:9); and therefore He is exceedingly worthy to be praised. Jehovah is the one object of Israel’s praise (Deuteronomy 10:21): Israel’s praises are as it were the throne upon which He sits (Psalms 22:3): the keynote of worship is Hallelujah, ‘praise ye Jah’; and the Hebrew title of the Psalter is Tehillim, i.e. Praises, v. 1 a recurs in Psalms 96:4 a, 145:3 a.

Kirkpatrick, A. F. (1906)

Verse 2

Psalms 48:2

See note in NIV Study Bible;

sides of the north -- on the sides of the north] Thus rendered, the words appear to be a topographical description of the situation of Mount Zion to the north of the city; or, if we render, on the sides of the north is the citadel of the great King, a description of the position of the Temple. But ‘Mount Zion’ in this Psalm is not a part of the city but the whole city (vv. 11, 12); a merely topographical description would be frigid in the extreme; the rendering involves a doubtful construction; and it gives a very inadequate meaning to the phrase the sides of the north. This phrase occurs elsewhere in Isaiah 14:13; Ezekiel 38:6, Ezekiel 18:15; Ezekiel 39:2; and in all these passages it means the recesses or remotest quarters of the north. In Isaiah 14:13 “the uttermost parts of the north” (R.V.) are mentioned as the locality of the sacred mountain, which according to Asiatic mythology was the abode of the gods. This mountain, corresponding to the Olympus of the Greeks, was the Meru of the Indians, the Alborg of the Persians, the Arālu of the Assyrians and Babylonians. It would seem that the Psalmist boldly calls Mount Zion the uttermost parts of the north with reference to this mythological idea.

Kirkpatrick, A. F. (1906) (pp. 263–264). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The sacred mountain of our God is not in the remote recesses of the north, but in the very midst of the city of His choice. Zion is in reality all that the Assyrians claim for their fabled mount of the gods. Their king too may style himself ‘great,’ but Zion is the citadel of One Who is in truth the great King, for He is the King of all the earth (Psalms 47:2; Psalms 47:7). “The great king” was a title claimed by the king of Assyria (Is. 36:4); and the word for ‘great’ is not that used in v. 1 (gādōl) but rab, which corresponds to the Assyrian title sarru rabbu (Schrader, Cuneif. Inser. p. 320). ‘City’ (citadel) is not the same word as in v. 1 (‘īr), but ḳiryāh, a word which does not occur again in the Psalter, but is found several times in Isaiah (Psalms 22:2; Psalms 29:1; Psalms 33:20). To many commentators it seems inconceivable that the Psalmist should allude to Assyrian mythology. But a writer of Isaiah’s time might easily have become acquainted with the religious ideas of the Assyrians, and the author of the Book of Job does not hesitate to introduce popular mythological ideas. See Prof. Davidson’s note on Job 26:12: and cp. Isaiah 27:1

Kirkpatrick, A. F. (1906) The Book of Psalms; (p. 264). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

north -- “Zaphon.” In Canaanite mythology Zaphon was an ancient Near Eastern equivalent to Mt. Olympus, the dwelling place of pagan gods. If this was the psalmist’s intention in Psalms 48:2, the reference becomes a polemical description of the Lord; He is not only King of Kings but also is God of all so-called gods. The city of the great King. Cf. Psalms 47:2 and Matthew 5:34-35. God Himself has always been the King of Kings.

MacArthur, J., Jr. (Ed.). (1997). MASB

Verse 4

Psalms 48:4

kings assembled -- For, lo, the kings assembled themselves (R.V.): Sennacherib’s vassal kings (Isaiah 10:8) met at their rendezvous (cp. Psalms 2:2): they passed over together; uniting their forces they crossed the frontier and entered the land of Judah. Cp. Isaiah 8:7-8; Isaiah 28:15.

Kirkpatrick, A. F. (1906). The Book of Psalms, (p. 264). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Verse 7

Psalms 48:7

ships of Tarshish ... He shatters the stately ships of Tarshish [larger ocean-going vessels] with a sudden storm: with equal ease He annihilates the vast Assyrian army. Cp. Isaiah 14:24-27, noting the phrase, “I will break the Assyrian in my land.”

Kirkpatrick, A. F. (1906). The Book of Psalms, (p. 265). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The east wind, notorious for its destructiveness, is often employed as a symbol of judgement (Job 27:21; Isaiah 27:8; Jeremiah 18:17); and ships of Tarshish,—the largest vessels, such as were employed for the voyage to Tartessus in the S.W. of Spain (cp. ‘East Indiamen’)—were emblems of all that was strong and stately (Isaiah 2:16). The alternative rendering of R.V. marg., ‘As with the east wind that breaketh the ships of Tarshish,’ is grammatically possible, but less suitable.

Kirkpatrick, A. F. (1906). The Book of Pslams, (p. 265). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Verse 9

Psalms 48:9

Psalms 48:9

Psalms 48:9

lovingkindness -- We have thought on thy lovingkindness, O God, realised it to ourselves as manifested in this new deliverance, while we offered our thanksgivings in the Temple courts; for there, in the immediate presence of God, men learn the true significance of events (Psalms 73:17).

Kirkpatrick, A. F. (1906). The Book of Psalms, (pp. 265–266). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Verse 11

Psalms 48:11

daughters of Judah -- The daughters of Judah are not the maidens of Judah, though the fact that women were wont to celebrate victories with dance and song may have suggested the use of the expression, but the cities of Judah, which had been captured by Sennacherib (Isaiah 36:1), and therefore had special cause for rejoicing at his overthrow. Country towns are regarded as ‘daughters’ of the metropolis. Cp. Numbers 21:25; Joshua 17:11, Joshua 17:16; the word for towns in both cases literally means daughters.

Kirkpatrick, A. F. (1906). The Book of Psalms, (p. 266). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Verse 12

Psalms 48:12

walk about -- The inhabitants of Jerusalem had been confined within its walls during the siege: now they can freely walk round, and thankfully contemplate the safety of the walls and towers and palaces so lately menaced with destruction. Cp. Isaiah 33:20.

Kirkpatrick, A. F. (1906)The Book of Psalms, (p. 266). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

count -- tell -- I.e. count, as in Psalms 22:17; Genesis 15:5. The retention of the archaism in R.V. is justifiable for the sake of the connexion with v. 13, where the same word is used for tell = narrate. But lately the towers had been counted with a very different object by the Assyrian officers reconnoitring the city in preparation for the siege (Isaiah 33:18).

Kirkpatrick, A. F. (1906) The Book of Psalms, (p. 266). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Verse 13

Psalms 48:13

mark -- consider ...consider, Or, as R.V. marg., traverse. The word occurs here only, and is of doubtful meaning. But the rendering consider suits the context better. In either case the object is to convince themselves of the safety of the city. P.B.V. set up is derived from some Jewish authorities.

Kirkpatrick, A. F. (1906). The Book of Psalms, (pp. 266–267). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Verse 14

Psalms 48:14

for this ... For such is God [Jehovah] our God for ever and ever. Jehovah is a God who has proved Himself the defender of His city and people, and will continue to be the same for ever.

Kirkpatrick, A. F. (1906). The Book of Psalms, (p. 267). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

For this is God. Other options for translating the Heb. text of this line are: 1) “For this God is our God,” or 2) “For this is God, our God.”

MacArthur, J., Jr. (Ed.). (1997) MASB,

our guide -- He is the shepherd King (Psalms 95:7) who will guide (see Psalms 5:8; Psalms 23:2) the sheep of his flock (Psalms 77:20).

Even to death -- he will be our guide even unto death] Beautiful as is the thought, He (emphatic—He and no other) will be our guide unto death (or, in death, or, over death), it cannot be legitimately extracted from the present text, nor would such an expression of personal faith form a natural conclusion to this wholly national Psalm. Possibly the words ‘al mūth (rendered unto death) should be read as one, with different vowels, ‘ōlāmōth, ‘for ever.’ So the LXX and Symmachus. Possibly the words are the remains of a musical direction like that of Ps. 9, ‘al muth labbēn, meaning ‘set to the tune of mūth,’ or that of Ps. 46, ‘set to ‘Alāmōth,’ which has been placed at the end of the Ps. (as in Hab. 3:19) instead of at the beginning, as is the rule in the Psalter, or which has been accidentally transferred from the beginning of Ps. 49.

Kirkpatrick, A. F. (1906) The Book of Psalms, (p. 267). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Psalms 48". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/psalms-48.html. 2021.
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