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Psalms 48:1 « A Song [and] Psalm for the sons of Korah. » Great [is] the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, [in] the mountain of his holiness.
A Psalm and Song for the sons of Korah ] When and by whom compiled we certainly know not. If by David, probably it was upon occasion of the Philistines coming up to seek him, but were sent away back with shame and loss, 2 Samuel 5:7 ; 2 Samuel 5:9 . If upon the slaughter of Sennacherib’s army by an angel, Isaiah or some other prophet of those times (as there were many) might be the penman. It seemeth to be of the same time and occasion with Psalms 76:1-12
Ver. 1. Great is the Lord ] Greater, Job 33:12 , greatest of all, Psalms 95:3 , greatness itself, Psalms 145:3 . A degree he is above the superlative.
And greatly to be praised ] No mean praises can be meet for so great a majesty. It must be modus sine modo (Bern.).
In the city of our God ] i.e. In the Church; for others will not, cannot do it to divine acceptation. Galen (lib. 3, de usu part.), amazed at the wonderful frame of man’s body, sang a hymn to the Maker thereof, but yet he lived and died a Pagan.
Psa 48:2 Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, [is] mount Zion, [on] the sides of the north, the city of the great King.
Ver. 2. Beautiful for situation ] A beautiful nymph, so R. Solomon. Or, beautiful for the branch that droppeth balsam, saith Moller; Pulcher surculo, beautiful branch, that is, for the ark there seated. Or, for the tract and climate, as Joshua 12:23 , situated on the north side of Jerusalem, as Isaiah 14:13 , in a cold, dry, and clear air, as Job 37:22 . Sanantur illi, qui illic infirmi conveniunt, saith Kimchi, they which come thither weak are made well.
The joy of the whole earth ] Not only of the whole land, because thither three times a year the tribes went up, the tribes of the Lord unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord, Psalms 122:4 , not only of the East, whereof Jerusalem was held and called the queen, Urbium totius Orientis clarissima, saith Pliny, see Lamentations 1:1 , but also of the whole earth, Sumen totius orbis, as one calleth it, and Rabshakeh himself (in that more ingenuous than Strabo) confesseth Judea to be a land of grain and wine, of bread and vineyards, Isaiah 36:17 . Hence it is called the excellency of Jacob, Psalms 47:4 , the goodness of the Lord for wheat and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd; for all which men should come to sing in the height of Zion; but especially for spiritual blessings, that their souls might be as watered gardens, and they not sorrow any more at all, Jeremiah 31:12 ; but come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads, Isaiah 35:10 , for the grace of God, that bringeth salvation to all men, therehence appearing, Tit 2:11 Isaiah 2:3-4 . If Plutarch could say of Rome in Numa’s time, that the neighbour villages, sucking in the air of that city, breathed righteousness; how much better might the same be said of this city of the great King, where God himself was resiant, and his sincere service was established! Psalms 132:13 .
Psa 48:3 God is known in her palaces for a refuge.
Ver. 3. God is known in her palaces for a refuge ] As the city was an ornament to the whole country, so was God to the city, as being a common refuge to both; and as having his holy temple there, not a professed sanctuary for impiety, as Florus spitefully styled it, but far better deserving than Numa’s new temple in Rome did, to be called πιστοως και ειρηνης ιερον , the sacrary of faith and peace, where the true God was truly worshipped, and found to be a very present help in trouble, the best bulwark.
Psa 48:4 For, lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together.
Ver. 4. For, lo, the kings were assembled ] The princes of the Philistines, 2 Samuel 5:5 . Or, Sennacherib’s princes, which were all kings, Isaiah 10:8 . Oecolampadius, upon Isaiah 13:19 , saith, that there were twenty and two kingdoms in Assyria; these all came with combined forces to lay Jerusalem desolate, but could not effect it.
They passed by together ] They could do this city (dear to God, and secured by him, the Athenians boasted that they were θεοφιλεις , beloved of God, the Hierosolymitans were surely so) no more harm than as if they had been so many wayfaring men that had passed by it with their staves in their hands.
Psa 48:5 They saw [it, and] so they marvelled; they were troubled, [and] hasted away.
Ver. 5. They saw it, and so they marvelled ] None of them could say, as Caesar, Veni, vidi, vici, I came, I saw, I conquored, but the contrary; they no sooner saw this heaven guarded city, but their hearts misgave them; and they were ready to say, as that duke of Saxony did, who intending to make war upon the bishop of Magdeburg, and understanding that he made no great preparation for defence of himself and his territories, but sought help from heaven by fasting and prayer, Insaniat alius, said he, God bless me from such a madness as to meddle with a man who confideth in God, and committeth himself wholly to his protection.
They were troubled and hasted away ] Heb. They fled with a hasty or headlong flight, being smitten with a sudden terror, such as was that of the Egyptians, when their chariot-wheels were taken off; of the Philistines, when for haste they left their gods behind them, 2 Samuel 5:20-21 ; of the Syrians, 2 Kings 7:6-7 , when they left all and ran for their lives; of the Assyrians, when the angel had slain a hundred eighty-five thousand in their camp, &c.
Psa 48:6 Fear took hold upon them there, [and] pain, as of a woman in travail.
Ver. 6. Fear took hold upon them there ] By "so" in the former verse, and "there" in this, the shameful flight of these enemies is lively deciphered, and, as it were, pointed at with the finger. So Psalms 14:5 , "There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous."
And pain as of a woman in travail ] Their grief was no less than their fear; and it came upon them, Certo, cito, subito, suddenly, sorely, irresistibly, inevitably.
Psa 48:7 Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east wind.
Ver. 7. Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish ] i.e. Of the ocean, or of the Mediterranean Sea, Isaiah 2:16 ; Isaiah 23:1 ; Isaiah 23:6 ; Isaiah 23:10 ; Isaiah 23:14 . The meaning is, Like as thou, O God, with thine east wind, that Euroclydon especially, which Pliny calleth Navigantium pestem (the mariner’s mischief), art wont to dash and drown the tallest ships at thy pleasure; so thou both canst and wilt deal by thy Church’s enemies. To whom, therefore, this text should be as those knuckles of a man’s hand were to Belshazzar, to write them their destiny; or as Daniel was to him, to read it unto them.
Psa 48:8 As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever. Selah.
Ver. 8. As we have heard ] viz. By the relation of our forefathers, Psalms 44:1 , or rather by the promises contained in the Holy Scriptures, which now we see verified and exemplified in our signal deliverances. Jerusalem’s constant protection then is here assevered and assured, per comparationem promissionis et experientim simul, et similiter eam contestantium. See the like Job 42:5 . See Trapp on " Job 42:5 "
In the city of our God ] The Church is the city of the living God, Hebrews 12:22 , a city that breedeth men, yea, conquerors, as Herodotus (Clio) saith of Ecbatana, the metropolis of the Medes, and as Pindarus (Nemeis, Obadiah 1:2 ) of another place,
Yρεφαι φωτα μαχαταν δυνατος , &c.
God will establish it for ever ] There shall be a Church till the world’s end, opposing all her enemies.
Psa 48:9 We have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple.
Ver. 9. We have thought upon thy lovingkindness ] Heb. We have silently mused or minded, as being amazed, or rather amazed, thereat, not able to speak for a while, we were so transported when we met in thy temple for the purpose to praise thee, as for thy lovingkindness towards us, so for thy power and justice exercised on our enemies.
Psa 48:10 According to thy name, O God, so [is] thy praise unto the ends of the earth: thy right hand is full of righteousness.
Ver. 10. According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise ] i.e. It is infinite and inexpressible, Psalms 148:1 ; Psalms 145:3 . God’s name is exalted above all blessing and praise, as those holy Levites acknowledge, Nehemiah 9:5 . The distance between God and us is infinite, and we should labour to fill up that distance, if possible, with our praises.
Thy right hand is full of righteousness ] i.e. Of noble acts, which thou hast done for us, according to thy promise, Psalms 25:10 .
Psa 48:11 Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments.
Ver. 11. Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters, &c. ] Let the Church catholic, and each particular member thereof: give God the glory of his justice, and see that their joy be spiritual.
Psa 48:12 Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof.
Ver. 12. Walk about Sion, and tell the towers thereof ] q.d. Are they not still the same and as many as they were before the approach of the enemy? is anything diminished or defaced by the late stage or assault? "Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there," &c., Isaiah 37:33 .
Psa 48:13 Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell [it] to the generation following.
Ver. 13. Mark ye well her bulwarks ] Not at all impaired. The Great Turk could never have gotten the Rhodes but by treachery, notwithstanding his long and mighty batteries made upon that place day and night. How he raged at the last assault of Scodra, and blasphemed, see Turk. Hist. p. 423. Geneva is environed with enemies, French, Spanish, Savoy, Pope, and barred out from all aid of neighbour cities and Churches; yet is upheld, as it were, by an immediate hand of heaven, as Beza hath set forth in an elegant emblem, Hanc urbem non nisi miraculose stetisse et stare per multos annos res ipsa clamat.
Psa 48:14 For this God [is] our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide [even] unto death.
Ver. 14. For this God is our God ] To draw them up to this consideration it was, that the prophet so calls upon people to view Zion, &c., and to take notice that she might well have written upon her gates (as that city Hippocrates writeth of had) Intacta manet, the daughter of Zion is a maid still, through the prowess of her champion.
Even unto death ] And after too; for this is not to be taken exclusive. He will never leave us, nor forsake us.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 48". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany