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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Writings

Psalms 48

Verses 1-14

PSALM 48

The celebration of the reign of the King in Zion, the city of God, at last delivered from the enemy and established as the centre of government for the whole earth.

This psalm completes the series of psalms commencing with Psalm 44 . In that psalm the faith of the godly, having heard from the fathers of God's deliverances in days of old, looks to God to arise for their help and redeem Israel from the power of the enemy. Psalm 45 presents Christ as the answer to their cry to God for help. He is the One through whom deliverance will come. Psalm 46 expressed the confidence in God gained by the actual experience of God's mercy in the present, and not simply the report of what God has done in the past. Psalm 47 celebrates the intervention of God on behalf of His people, establishing Christ as “King over all the earth,” exalting Israel over the nations, and calling upon the nations to join with Israel in praise to Jehovah. Psalm 48 presents the King established in Zion the centre of government for the whole earth. Thus the godly say, “As we have heard,” referring to Psalm 44 , “so have we seen.”

(vv. 1-3) The psalm opens with an ascription of praise to Jehovah, who has established His throne in Zion, “the city of our God.” Then follows a description of the glory of the city. As becomes the dwelling place of Jehovah, it is described as “the mountain of his holiness.” Holiness being established, the city which had been desolate now becomes beautiful, the joy of the whole earth. “On the sides of the north” may indicate the blessedness of the city in the sight of the world, that at enmity with the people of God had once approached from the north. Now God, dwelling in the city, is known as its defence and security. Thus the city is publicly known as holy, beautiful, a joy, and as a refuge for God's people.

(vv. 4-7) There follows a vivid description of the sudden judgment by which the city had been delivered from the enemies of God's people. The confederated kings had assembled against the city. They mustered their hosts that passed by together in battle array, only to find themselves confronted, not simply by man, but by the mighty power of God. Astonished and dismayed they fled, seized with sudden panic; trembling like a woman overcome with the pain of travail, and dispersed like a navy in a storm.

(vv. 8-10) Thus the godly can say, not only “We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days” ( Psa_44:1 ), but, “as we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts.” Moreover the city now delivered, will be established “for ever.” When cast out of the land, they had thought of the loving-kindness of God ( Psa_42:8 ); now that the city is freed from the enemy the godly can delight in the loving-kindness of God “in the midst of thy temple.” The praise of God, according to all that He is, as set forth in His name, will flow to the ends of the earth, and the power of His right hand will be known in righteousness for the whole world.

(vv. 11-14) The psalm closes with a call to mount Zion to rejoice, and to the cities of Judah to be glad. In peace the inhabitants can contemplate the beauty of Zion as they survey her bulwarks and palaces, and thus be able to tell of this great deliverance to future generations, recognizing that the God who has wrought the deliverance is their God for ever and ever. Never again will the nation turn aside to idolatry. Henceforth through life God will be their God and their guide.

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Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Psalms 48". "Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hsw/psalms-48.html. 1832.