Throughout September 2022, I managed to read and reflect – briefly – on a Psalm each day. For December 2022, attempted to pick up the discipline. I got part-way through that month, and so after a long hiatus, am determined to get going. I’ll read the Psalm, pray, and then ponder a few questions:
- What is this Psalm about?
- What does this Psalm teach about God?
- How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
I’ll close the post with a simple prayer, trying to draw the themes together.
On the 16th of September 2023, here’s Psalm 48:
1 Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise,
in the city of our God, his holy mountain.
2 Beautiful in its loftiness,
the joy of the whole earth,
like the heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion,
the city of the Great King.
3 God is in her citadels;
he has shown himself to be her fortress.
4 When the kings joined forces,
when they advanced together,
5 they saw her and were astounded;
they fled in terror.
6 Trembling seized them there,
pain like that of a woman in labor.
7 You destroyed them like ships of Tarshish
shattered by an east wind.
8 As we have heard,
so we have seen
in the city of the Lord Almighty,
in the city of our God:
God makes her secure
9 Within your temple, O God,
we meditate on your unfailing love.
10 Like your name, O God,
your praise reaches to the ends of the earth;
your right hand is filled with righteousness.
11 Mount Zion rejoices,
the villages of Judah are glad
because of your judgments.
12 Walk about Zion, go around her,
count her towers,
13 consider well her ramparts,
view her citadels,
that you may tell of them
to the next generation.
14 For this God is our God for ever and ever;
he will be our guide even to the end.
What is this Psalm about?
This Psalm is another song, similar to Psalm 47, of praise and worship. It paints a majestic picture of God, the King of Kings, who is in a place – his city/holy mountain (v1) – and is a God that can be known. This Psalm is about the things God has done, like shattering a fleet of ships (v. 7) or guiding his people (v14) – and the response of God’s people, to praise Him, for ever and ever.
What does this Psalm teach about God?
Verse 1 is unapologetic: ‘Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise’. This sets the tone firmly. Interestingly, it is God Himself who is the strength and fortress of his city (v3), demonstrating his strenth, solidity, and might. In the light of that truth the victory of God is made clearer (v4-7), and God judges in a good way that makes people glad (v11). Verse 14 closes the Psalm in a way that perhaps picks up the theme of verse 1 – balancing God’s eternity, relationality, and direction.
How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
Psalm 48 is not just a reminder of the value of worship, and the ultimate value and worth of the God we worship – though it is not less than that. God is also in charge of the elements – a way he can take victory (though, to be fair, this may be because I finished reading Jonah devotionally this morning!). I think verse 13 is perhaps the most compelling for us today – looking at the ramparts, the citadels, of the true city of God (of which God is the fortress and strength!) – the reason we look in hope is to tell of them to the next generation. This is a marvellous encouragement to discipleship, evangelism, catechesis and theology. And the ‘why’ of all this, is the fourteenth verse. Go back and read it again. God is our guide, and ‘he will be our guide even to the end’. Amen!
A prayer drawn from Psalm
Lord, you are great and worthy of praise! You are our hope and security, the fortress in which we will find refuge. Help us remember this in the confusion of our day; be our guide, and help us guide others, whether they are our children or not. Help us to meditate on your unfailing love. Amen.