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Monday, July 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 48

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-14

Title. A psalm for the sons of Korah. Asaph being dead, and his sons not named, we infer that the psalm, as many think, was composed on the Assyrian invasion; for then God was truly great in Zion, in the mountain of his holiness.

Psalms 48:2 . Beautiful for situation. Dr. Lightfoot describes the situation of Jerusalem from original authorities. It stood on two hills; Zion was the higher, and more extended hill, being strongly fortified. This David called the Castle: but after the Babylonian captivity it was called the Upper-town. The lower hill was called Acra, and was steep on both sides. Against this was a third hill, called Moriah, separated from Acra by a valley. But while the Asmonean family reigned, being desirous that the temple might communicate with the city, they filled it up, and levelled the top of Acra, that the majestic temple might overlook the whole city. Ophel was another little hill, on which strong works were erected. It is translated the tower, 2 Kings 5:24. See also 2 Chronicles 27:3; 2 Chronicles 33:14. Nehemiah 3:26. Bezatha was also a little hill opposite to the tower of Antonia, and separated from it only by a deep ditch. The Millo, another fortification, was adjacent to the temple, and on the west side. The city of David was in the north-west part of Jerusalem, and ascended by steps. Hence the situation being highly military, Zion displayed her towers. But mount Zion, here said to be on the north, was by the building gradually rising towards the north; yet the Litany reads, “Upon the north side lies the city of the great king.”

Psalms 48:4-5 . Lo the kings were assembled they saw they were troubled they hasted away. This perfectly agrees with the flight of the Assyrians, as described in 2 Chronicles 32:21.

Psalms 48:7 . Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish. Isaiah 23:6. 1 Kings 10:22, With an east wind, blowing like the euroclydon, Acts 27:14, when Paul was shipwrecked. The east wind is often named in the scriptures as injurious to health, and noxious to vegetation. It blows up the sands of the deserts very often into high ridges, buries the camels, and scatters armies with terror. Jeremiah 18:17. While Dr. Edward Clarke, our accredited traveller, was entering the bay of Salamis in the Isle of Cyprus, there sprang up an east wind which laid the frigate on her beam ends, blistered the lips of the sailors, attended with much pain. “In the short space of two minutes, the mercury rose in the thermometer from eighty to eighty six degrees of heat.” On the land it is often accompanied with hot and destructive winds, described by Bruce and other travellers.

Psalms 48:8 . As we have heard, from Moses, Deuteronomy 28:29., in the recital of covenant blessings, so have we seen, in the victories of David, that the Lord keeps his covenant and promises, which he sware to Abraham our father; for his word is clean and abideth for ever.

Psalms 48:14 . This God is our God. He will be our guide and our refuge, in all the public and private calamities of life; and will accompany us in the valley of the shadow of death.


Here is a song in praise of Zion, a song glowing with the ardours of piety, and great elevation of sentiment. But the spiritual Zion is intended; a psalm of mere topography could not be obtruded on divine worship. She is beautiful in her appearance and situation, on the hill of God’s eternal power and love. She is beautiful in the feet of her sons, who carry glad tidings of peace to all the earth. She is beautiful in her king, the Lord of hosts.

God is known in all her palaces for a refuge. As Solomon built many palaces, and was a protection to the poor and oppressed, so JEHOVAH sheds happiness and heaven on all who trust under the shadow of his wings. Oh that sinners would come to this sanctuary, more especially because the hail of God’s anger shall sweep away their refuges of lies.

Zion is a terror to all kings and potentates who league together for its destruction. They look on its strength, and tremble; they look again, and seeing that God is there, they relinquish their plans, and recede from their ill-advised persecutions with eternal shame. Where are now the men who for awhile have made war on the saints? And what is their name in ecclesiastical and profane history? Truly all who meddled with it have been put to shame. Zion is the joy of all her children; the daughters of Judah were glad because of God’s judgments on the oppressors. And as the Jews rejoice in the strength of their impregnable city, so the saints rejoice in the alsufficient protection of the Lord. The one gloried in the splendid palaces of Solomon, and in his towers of defence; the other boasts of prophets, of apostles, of martyrs and confessors, who have been as bulwarks, pillars, and ornaments in the church. They glory also in all the doctrines of grace, and in all the promises of the new covenant, which have made the children of Zion champions in the faith. Thus while we walk about Zion, and tell her towers, our confidence rises in her strong and mighty God.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 48". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/psalms-48.html. 1835.
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