The Jerusalem Within
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,In the city of our God, His holy mountain. Fair and beautiful in elevation, the joy of all the earth,Is Mount Zion [the City of David] in the far north,The city of the great King. God, in her palaces,Has made Himself known as a stronghold. For, lo, the kings assembled themselves,They [came and] passed by together. They saw it, then they were amazed;They were stricken with terror, they fled in alarm. Panic seized them there,And pain, as that of a woman in childbirth. With the east windYou shattered the ships of Tarshish. As we have heard, so have we seenIn the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God:God will establish her forever. Selah. We have thought of Your lovingkindness, O God,In the midst of Your temple. As is Your name, O God,So is Your praise to the ends of the earth;Your right hand is full of righteousness (rightness, justice). Let Mount Zion be glad,Let the daughters of Judah rejoiceBecause of Your [righteous] judgments. Walk about Zion, go all around her;Count her towers, Consider her ramparts,Go through her palaces,That you may tell the next generation [about her glory]. For this is God,Our God forever and ever;He will be our guide even until death.
No city in human history has been conquered more times than Jerusalem. Jebusites, Jews,mSyrians, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, Turks, Britons, Palestinians, and Israelis have all claimed her as their own.
Psalm 48 begins by telling us, however, who holds the true title: “the city of our God.” Jerusalem became the capital for Israel and Judah during the time of David and his descendant. This psalm, written during that kingdom period,reflects upon the epic of trouble and battle when the city had been threatened by formidable enemies.
Today this psalm will not hold personal value if we apply it only to the physical city of Jerusalem. Jesus Christ came not to inhabit a city, but people. Jerusalem is special to Him; but, even more so are we.
Psalm 48 opens with the invite us to say, “Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise” not just in “the city of our God, his holy mountain”- but also “in me.”
Psalm 48 says that if Jerusalem is an exhibit for His past deliverances, so are we. If God is great within the city of David, then let Him be great in us too. Far too often, we let our problems become large and the Lord small.
Rather than saying, “Great are my trials, burdens, needs, or difficulties- ought we not reverse our focus? Should we not say instead “Great is my God, great is His love for me, great is His provision, His forgiveness, His salvation and the future He has promised.”
Since Christ dwells in me then I too am “beautiful for situation.” I’m in a desired place. The life in Christ comes with a spectacular view for in Him we reach our full potential the “Zaphon,” the ultimate height.
Psalm 48 essentially declares that we are blessed. While there might be those times when I feel bothered or bewildered and since both the city of God and the people of God experience times of siege, God was always in the city and God is always with us. Even when the city was at war or when we are in the depth of adversity He is there with us. We must fight the temptation to forget where we are when surrounded by difficulties fir we are located in Christ- a lofty and secure place.
Psalm 46 tells that despite the sieges against Jerusalem, God smote its enemies. Who are our enemies? For sure the devil and death, disease and adversity; but other enemies vex our souls: sin, fear, lack of self-worth, depression, and unfulfillment.
We wonder if these mighty foes will ever be vanquished and the answers is by all means. “We are more than conquerors through him who loves us” (Romans 8:37).
Though God has won many battles for us, a greater day is coming when all the powers that sought to destroy us will be terrified and flee trembling. They will be astounded and in great pain and suffering. They will be destroyed and smashed like ships against the rocks. We, however, are made “secure forever.”
What makes the psalmist so sure of the final outcome? Listen to his conclusion:
Psalm 46 tells us that first of all the psalmist took time to worship- “Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love.” Where, you might ask is the temple of God today? In us- “You yourselves are God’s temple….. God’s Spirit lives in you.”(1 Corinthians 3:16)
When King Hezekiah and Jerusalem were surrounded by the Syrian army led by Sennacherib, he received a letter calling on him and the people of Jerusalem to surrender. The letter said, “Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, ‘Jerusalem will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.’”
What do you suppose Hezekiah did? Exactly what is written in Psalm 46:9: “Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord (Isaiah 37: 14,15).
What about us? Are we bringing and spreading out our bad news before the Lord? Are we seeking His perspective on our dilemma or are we believing Sennacherib’s lie- “Do not let the god you depend on deceive you or are we instead choosing to praise God for who He really is?
When Jerusalem was secure then so also we’re the surrounding villages. The same is true with us- those who fall within our circle of influence such as family or friends- are beneficiaries of our stability in God.
Second, the psalmist says that he took time to walk. As he walked around the city walks, he was awed by her defenses, citadels, towers, and ramparts. In the past they had been the sites of success against awful onslaughts by the enemies of Jerusalem. They held stories of God that needed to be told to the next generation.
We, too, ought to take memory walks through our lives, remembering how God defended us at every critical point in our lives. Those walks will remind us that Gods has never failed to meet our needs, however He might not have granted every wish. Sometimes He had better plans for us that we could not see. Psalm 46 reminds us that He is committed to being our “guide even to the end.”
Psalm 46 tells us what Paul would write centuries later, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Lift up your eyes to the holy Jerusalem, the throne of God and behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah sitting on the throne, having conquered all your enemies and be at rest with that knowledge.
Dr. John Thompson