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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Psalms 48

Verses 1-14

The Subject of Meditation (A Communion Sermon)

Psalms 48:9

This Psalm is a song of triumph, when Jerusalem was saved from some impending danger. The theme is that God is the safety of Zion, the impregnable city, made such by the loving care of God.

I. Into the temple the joyful people surge to give vent to their feelings of gratitude and triumph. Where else can they go with such fitness but to the sanctuary which stands to them as the very heart of their religion? And what is more fitting than that they should before all else give thanks to God? Such deliverance drives the pious heart to God, to think sweetly of His lovingkindness. They go up to the temple to think of it, lovingly, gratefully, humbly, prayerfully. Shallow souls let even great events pass without real thought, without notice, without making them an occasion for going deeper into life, deeper into the mystery and wonder of God's providence, and deeper into their own hearts. They do not consider the true inward significance of what yet strikes them as marvellous.

II. Here in this Psalm, after the great deliverance, the Psalmist feels that the first thing to do, the first thing to think, is praise, grateful thanksgiving. And what fitter theme could there be for us as we come to take in our hands the symbols of God's love in Christ Jesus? Let us make our Communion season one grateful meditation on this grandest of all themes. There can be no better preparation beforehand, and no more appropriate frame of mind during the act than this. We come to meditate on God's loving kindness. That sums up everything, all we would like to do, all we would like to feel. In the light of the deathless love which shines through the simple form of this memorial rite, should not complete trust fill our hearts now and confidence for the future illumine our path?

III. Whether we look back or forward, within or without, is not thanksgiving our appropriate state? What can we think of in the presence of the tokens of love but of Him and His lovingkindness? Let the breaking of the bread and the pouring out of the wine stand to us as they should for all that Christ has brought us, the forgiveness of sins, peace with God, reconciliation, hope of glory, all the rich and glorious elements of Divine love. When we come to the table, we will think of Thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of Thy temple. From the burning heart of love, shown to us there, we see love everywhere. We see that life is surrounded by God, that we are engirded, enswathed, encompassed by the love of God, beset behind and before. On that love we will meditate: on it we will feed: we will seek to get from it comfort and peace and hope and strength for new obedience. We have but one thought, in the midst of the temple, amid the sacred mysteries of the temple: namely, His lovingkindness.

Hugh Black, Christ's Service of Love, p. 254.

Towers of Zion

Psalms 48:12

This is a Psalm full of the most joyful spirit and expressed in the very best way. We do not know what great deliverance was thus splendidly celebrated; it may have been the deliverance in the days of Jehoshaphat, which was very signal and very marked; it may have been that in the days of Hezekiah, which was more signal and more marked still. The two points are that God is a sure refuge to His people when they seek His grace and power; and that it is more distinctly connected with Jerusalem, the central city of the kingdom and the people.

'Let Mount Zion rejoice,' sings the Psalmist, 'let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of Thy judgments'. And so, he continues, 'let us walk about Zion, let us go round about her, let us tell the towers thereof'.

But to come to our own times. What are the towers of our own Zion, of our own Church? What are the bulwarks of our religion? There is a great deal, of course, that is common to the whole Church of God throughout the world.

I. There is the Presence of God Himself. The Lord is there. It is His presence which makes it His Church; it is His presence which makes it His holy Church.

II. There is the Faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, clearly understood and fully grasped and held. A very important matter. It may not always be expressed in exactly the same words, but it has the same life, the same power, and the same salvation.

III. There are the Holy Scriptures. Whatever may be said now of the form and manner in which they were delivered and have come down to us, they are the fount of knowledge of God. It is from these words, blessed and illumined by the Holy Spirit, that we gain the further knowledge of salvation and grace and hope. There are parts of the Holy Scriptures of which we may read verse after verse which seem to convey very little to us, and then suddenly there is one illuminated with the grace and power of God. which seems to strike the very inward conscience and experience of the heart.

IV. There are the Means of Grace. How very important it is to us that we should really use them not merely as Christian duties to be performed, but that we should use them as an approach unto the very presence of God, from which we are to learn and by which we are to be strengthened.

V. There are the Examples of Christian People. How very delightful they are. We see what men and women may be who are of like passions with ourselves; we see their self-denial, their devotion, their unworldliness, their unselfishness; we see their readiness to think and plan what shall be for the best advantage of others, and what shall most conduce to the glory of God. How delightful it is that we have this long stream of saints and Christians behind us, not merely painted in windows or standing before us as statues, as memorials of the past, but those whom we ourselves know, perhaps in the ordinary and humble walks of life. There is no walk of life in which the grace of God is more clearly seen than when persons of little education and little position are truly inspired with the love and the grace of our Blessed Lord; it makes them often shame those who have more privileges and who perhaps have a clearer understanding of the theories and the facts of redemption.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Psalms 48". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/psalms-48.html. 1910.