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V. 1. Many think, that this psalm was composed on account of the deliverance of Jerusalem from the power and rage of Sennacherib : but others artof opinion, that it is more exactly descriptive of the invasion of the land during the reign of Jehoshaphat, and the extraordinary triumph of him and his subjects over the kings who had confederated against him. (Notes, 2 Chronicles 20:1-30.) It is however evident, that it was occasioned by some remarkable interposition of God, in rescuing " the mountain of his holiness" from powerful assailants.
V. 2, 3. The situation of Zion, with the adjacent region, was very beautiful, and the glory and joy of the whole land : but the experience of her kings, from age to age, that God was their Refuge, and the Protector of their palaces, as well as of his own holy temple, was the peculiar honour of this holy city. Zion is supposed to have been situated on the south side of the mountain ; but the
temple stood on the north side of it, and was its peculiar honour and distinction. (Isaiah 14:13.)
V. 4- 7 The confederated kings of idolatrous nation were assembled to besiege Jerusalem ; but the pious prince of Judah confided in God as their Refuge. Their invader therefore, when they approached the walls, were suddenly intimidated, troubled, and put to flight, with terror and anguish, as a woman in travail ; or as the affrighted mariners look at each other, when a furious east wind drives their stout and richly laden ship upon a rock, and dashes it in pieces. These effects could not be so much ascribed to the sight of Jerusalem’s fortifications, as to the immediate power of God ; even as the winds and waves are at his command. (Marg. Ref.) Illustrations of this kind ’ are sometimes introduced, by the sacred writers, with the ’ mark of comparison ; and frequently, as here, without ’ it. The meaning evidently is, that as the east wind shatters in pieces the ships of Tarshish, so the divine power ’ struck the heathen kings with terror and astonishment. Bp. Home.
V. 8. The princes and people of Judah had often heard of the wonderful deliverances, which God had in former ages vouchsafed to Israel, as well as the encouraging promises and predictions sent to them by the prophets : but the recent events, of which they had been eye-witnesses, and the astonishing interposition of the God of armies in behalf of this chosen city, impressed them with a far more lively sense of these things, than they ever before had attained to. They were also encouraged, by this instance of the Lord’s faithful and powerful protection, confidently to expect that he would establish Jerusalem in safety and prosperity through all generations. As a prophecy, this must mean that city of the living God, of which Jerusalem was but a type: (Notes, Galatians 4:21-31. Hebrews 12:22-25. .Rev, xxi :) for Jerusalem was repeatedly taken, and at length it was given up to be " trodden under foot by the " gentiles ; " but the church of Christ is founded on a Rock, and God will certainly establish it for ever and ever.
(Notes,Psalms 125:1-2. Matthew 16:18.)
V. 9. We have waited in silent contemplation and patient hope, for thy loving kindness, with sacrifices and believing prayers, presented at thy temple ; trusting in thy aid, and not in our own power or valour. This was the conduct of Hezekiah, amidst the menaces and blasphemies of Rabshakeh and Sennacherib. (Notes, 2 Kings 18:17
V. 10. The " name" of God may, in this connexion, either mean the glorious perfections by which he was known to his people, and distinguished from all the idols of the heathen ; or his title, as " the LORD of hosts, " the God of Abraham, and the God of Israel." (Marg. Ref. a. Notes, Exodus 3:14-15
V. 11 . This verse is in the future tense, and may literally be rendered, " Mount Zion will rejoice and the daughters of Judah," (the other towns and cities dependent on Jerusalem,) " will be glad because of thy judgments;" as an anticipation, during the apparent danger, of victory and exulting praises, rather than as a subsequent exhortation. (Notes, 2 Chronicles 20:12-25.)
V. 12, 13. The people are here called on, to go round the city in solemn procession ; and, while they joyfully praised and blessed the Lord, to mark all the towers, walls, and palaces ; observing that not one of them had been in the least injured by their formidable invaders. This would tend the more deeply to impress their minds ; and prepare them faithfully and diligently to preserve the memory of these interesting events, for the benefit of future generations. This exact survey of Jerusalem’s walls and fortifications, to be transmitted to posterity, might also intimate, that they were typical of more permanent privileges ; and they would after a time be demolished, that the things signified by them might remain for ever. (Note, Hebrews 12:26-29.)
V. 14. This verse, as the conclusion of a psalm, in which temporal deliverances, security, and privileges might appear to be exclusively celebrated, is a strong intimation, that spiritual and eternal blessings were also meant. It was before said, that God would establish Jerusalem for ever : but it is here added, in the most emphatical language imaginable, " This God," who protects Jerusalem, " is our God," or the Friend and Patron of his true people ; and that " for ever and ever," or " to all eternity : " " He will be our Guide unto death;" through all the sor-rows and dangers of this world to the eternal blessings of heaven. (Notes,Psalms 23:1-4
The Lord is a great and glorious King, and worthy of universal and most exalted praises : but none on earth will render him this due honour, except the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, who worship him in the mountain of his holiness, as their God and Saviour. (Notes and P. 0. Galatians 4:21-31.) The beauty and glory of his church, which should be, and will eventually prove, " the joy of " the whole earth," are derived from his presence and love, and are the reflection of his uncreated excellences. Wherever there are princes or people who make God their Refuge, he will be known among them as such : for he will never disappoint the expectation of any who hope in his word. But, when kings and nations, however numerous and potent, confederate against his church, sudden terror and destruction will be their portion. We have heard and read of the works of God for Israel of old ; and in the establishment of the gospel upon the ruins of idolatry : and if we wait for his loving-kindness in his holy temple, by persevering faith and prayer, we shall experience, in our measure, the same powerful supports and deliverances : and still more glorious things shall at length be accomplished, in order to establish Christianity throughout the whole earth. The Lord will always act in perfect consistency with those glorious perfections, which, by means of his word, are made known and celebrated to the ends of the earth : the salvation of his people will be accompanied with righteous vengeance on his enemies ; but every true believer may rejoice because of his judgments. Let us then diligently examine, and accurately mark, the security of the everlasting covenant, confirmed by the word and oath of the immutable God : let us consider that " his church is built upon a rock, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail ; " and let us meditate upon his exceedingly great and precious promises, and the privileges enjoyed by every true believer. While we are thus encouraged by them to trust and serve the Lord, in perilous and difficult circumstances; let us point them out to our children, and to the rising generation : for this almighty and gracious God is the Portion and the Shield of every true Christian, through successive generations and to all eternity. He will guide us all, through life to death, and through death to glory ; and in the city of our God above, we shall enjoy uninterrupted and unalloyed peace and felicity.
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Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 48". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany