Psalm 48:8-10 As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD Almighty, in the city of our God: God makes her secure for ever. Selah. Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love. Like your name, O God, your praise reaches to the ends of the earth; your right hand is filled with righteousness.
When we read Psalm 48 we get some idea of how devastating and demoralising it must have been for the Southern Kingdom of Judah in the decade 597-587 BC as it found itself helpless in the face of Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s magnificent Temple.
Psalm 48 would have been one of their most popular worship songs as they considered how vulnerable they were in the ‘Fertile Crescent’ between the mighty powers of Babylon and Egypt. How comforting it would have been for them to have this God-given reminder that ‘God makes [the City of God] SECURE FOR EVER’, and that they could ‘meditate on his UNFAILING LOVE’ (his CHESED)’. I can relate to all this because I love singing, “The Church’s one foundation’ and ‘Glorious things of you are spoken, Zion, City of our God’ while meditating on my Saviour’s promise: “I WILL build my church, and the gates of Hades will NOT overcome it” (Matthew 16:18).
So, how confused the people of Judah must have been as they lived out their 70 years of captivity in Babylon singing other songs like: “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. … How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:1, 4) Of course, they had Jeremiah’s promise of the LORD’s ultimate faithfulness: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11), but the outworking of God’s providence in their lives would still have been very difficult for them to understand, as it often is for us.
It is good for us to have all this historical background spelt out in God’s infallible Word as we reflect today on the overall state and circumstances of the Church, Christ’s Bride which he bought with his own blood. I will try to keep all this historical perspective in mind whenever I sing ‘The Church’s one foundation’ and ‘Glorious things of you are spoken’ – especially when I sing the verses: “Though with a scornful wonder men see her sore oppressed, by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed; yet saints their watch are keeping, their cry goes up, ‘How long?’, and soon the night of weeping shall be the morn of song. In toil and tribulation and tumult of her war she waits the consummation of peace for evermore; till with the vision glorious her longing eyes are blessed – at last the Church victorious shall be the Church at rest!”
– Bruce Christian