On Psalm 48

(Psa 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.

The Hebrew word for "mountain" is also used in the following verse, where it is translated "mount".

(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.

Literally, the Hebrew phrase for "Beautiful for situation" is translated "Beautiful elevation". Mount Zion is south of the temple mount. Thus, the north sides of mount Zion face the temple mount. The verse states that there, on the sides of the north, will be "the city of the great King". Now, "it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills" (Is 2:2). Due to the proximity of mount Zion to the temple mount, we can assume that when the temple mount will be elevated, mount Zion will be elevated also. Increased elevation might also imply an increased space between the two mounts and a larger space available for the city. Speaking of Jerusalem, Zec 14:10 also states that "it shall be lifted up". As for the position of the city, Eze 48 confirms that it will be south of the temple.

(Psa 48:3) God is known in her palaces for a refuge.

The word translated "palaces" means also "citadels, fortresses". The verse does not state that her fortresses are known for a refuge, but that in her fortresses God is known for a refuge. Therefore, this verse appears to predict times when fortresses will prove to be ineffective. Such a time is mentioned in Zec 14:2: "I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken ... ". This event will be followed by the return of the Lord (Zec 14:5). Then "the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel" (Joe 3:16). The Lord will bring deliverance.

(Psa 48:4) For, lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together.
(Psa 48:5) They saw it, and so they marvelled; they were troubled, and hasted away.
(Psa 48:6) Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail.
(Psa 48:7) Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east wind.

In verse 6, the word translated "fear" means also "trembling". "And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour" (Zec 14:13). This would correspond to the occasion in which the kings of the earth and their armies will be gathered together against the Lord (Rev 19:19-21). In view of verses such as Zec 14:3-5, this will take place at Jerusalem. The kings will be at Armageddon at the time when the last bowl of wrath will be poured on the earth (Rev 16:16-21), but apparently they will go later to Jerusalem.

(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.
(Psa 48:9) We have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple.
(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.
(Psa 48:11) Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments.

(Isa 2:4) And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

In Is 2:4, the word translated "people" means "peoples". As for mount Zion, it also represents those who belong to the Lord. We read that "ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem" (Heb 12:22).

(Psa 48:12) Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof.
(Psa 48:13) Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following.
(Psa 48:14) For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.

More recent translations assume the meaning "to pass between" for the verb translated "consider" in verse 13. The Septuagint, however, appears to support the meaning "to consider". Moreover, the word translated "palaces" is the same word as in verse 3. It can also be translated "fortresses, citadels". Finally, the Hebrew phrase for "Mark ye well" literally means "Set your hearts on".

The towers, bulwarks, and fortresses of the city will not serve any military purpose after the return of the Lord, for wars and threats of wars will cease (Is 2:4, 9:7). Rather, all these will be used to teach the following generations about the past wars against the city. Future generations will be taught that in times of war, people found refuge in God, not in the massive fortifications of the city.


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