April 20 2023
Today, Thursday April 20
“The City of the Great King”
Psalm 48:1-3 – A song. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.
“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised In the city of our God, In His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, The joy of the whole earth, Is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, The city of the great King. God is in her palaces; He is known as her refuge.”
This is our 1,100th Pastor’s Chat since we started doing them back in March 2020. I trust they have been as much a blessing to you in reading and listening to them as they have been to me in doing and producing them. I know that it is only by God’s grace that I wake up very early every morning, (without an alarm), to do them. It is my desire to continue doing these on a daily basis, as the Lord gives us wisdom and strength to do so. Thanks so much for your encouragements, and also your partnership in sharing these brief Bible devotions with others.
Psalm 48 is the third of three Psalms (Psalm 46, 47 and 48), written to commemorate the defeat of the Assyrian army in the days of Hezekiah that we read about in 2 Kings 18-19 and Isaiah 37. These Psalms are the work of an eyewitness, probably either the king or Isaiah the prophet. They were written to be sung by the sons of Korah who led the celebration and worship in the temple. We can hardly imagine the relief of the Jewish people when they discovered that miraculously, overnight, the dreaded foe was no more.
But these Psalms are also Messianic. We have no trouble drawing the obvious parallel between the exultation of the people here, and the sighs of relief which will ascend to God in fervent thanksgiving in a coming day when the armies of the beast are similarly overthrown (Revelation 19). We are not surprised to detect in this Psalm prophetic overtones which carry us forward to the coming threatened destruction of Jerusalem and extermination of the nation, to the return of Christ and the deliverance of Israel from the horrors of the great tribulation.
The emphasis in Psalm 48 is on the Lord and Mount Zion. Other psalms about Zion are Psalms 76, 84, 87, 122, and 132. As believers today we are citizens of the Zion that is above (Gal. 4:21-31; Heb. 12:18-24; Phil. 3:20), and rejoice that the Lord cares for us even as He cared for His ancient people Israel. This Psalm deals with four important topics.
The first one is God and His Holy City (vv. 1-3). In this first section, the people of Jerusalem speak about their city with pride and gratitude. David took Mount Zion from the Jebusites (2 Sam. 5:6-9; 2 Chron. 11:4-7) and made Jerusalem the capital of his kingdom. Ideally situated 2500 feet above sea level, the city was almost impregnable. Not far away was the juncture of the north-south and east-west trade routes, important for the economy and for communications.
David brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, and this made Zion a "holy mountain," for the Lord dwelt there (Psalms 2:6; 3:4; 15:1; 43:3; 99:9). Jerusalem became known as "the city of God" (vv. 1, 8) and the "city of the Great King" (v. 2; 47:2; see Matt. 5:35). Notice the greatness belongs to the Lord and not to the city (47:9), for in His grace, the Lord chose Zion (78:68; 132:13). The Jews saw Jerusalem as a beautiful city (50:2), a safe fortress, and "the joy of all the earth".
Spiritually speaking, the city has brought joy to all the earth because outside its walls Jesus died for the sins of the world, and from Jerusalem first sounded out the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One day in the future, Jerusalem will be the center of Christ's glorious kingdom (Isa. 2 and 60). The safety of Jerusalem was not in her location or her walls (vv. 12-14) but in her God; for He was their fortress (v. 3; see Psalm 46:1, 7). It was in the defeat of Sennacherib's army that God "made himself known as a stronghold" (v. 3, NASB).
This great city is beautiful because it is the place where God has made Himself known to the whole earth. It is only through the cross of Jesus Christ that we can experience God and know Him!
Have you ever bowed humbly at the cross and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior? If not, why not today?