Psalm 48:1-3 Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain. It is beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth. Like the utmost heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion, the city of the Great King. God is in her citadels; he has shown himself to be her fortress.
Those of us who have personally experienced the saving grace of the LORD, our Covenant-sealing, faithful, Covenant-keeping, God, are able to agree with the Psalmist with whole-heated conviction that the LORD is ‘great’ and ‘most worthy of praise’.
But it is also important for us to note where ‘the Sons of Korah’ declare this is to happen. It is ‘in the City of our God, his Holy Mountain … … Mount Zion, the City of the Great King’. For them, of course, this was Jerusalem. But the New Testament tells us that it is now the Church, where all these promises are fulfilled. Because God’s people rejected their Messiah when he came among them (cf John 1:11), the physical city of Jerusalem, along with its Temple on Mount Zion, was destroyed in AD 70. For 2,000 years it has never really recovered, and the temple mount is now dominated by a Moslem mosque, but the Lord Jesus Christ has promised that he will build his Church, and that even the gates of hell will neither ‘prevail against’ (ESV) or ‘overcome’ (NIV) it. The ‘Rock’ on which he will build his Church is the acknowledgement that he is the Christ, the true Messiah (Matthew 16:18), and that he will ‘build’ it out of people: “Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’ The Jews replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?’ But the temple he had spoken of was his body” (John 2:20).
The Apostle Peter spells this out for us: “As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4-5). So it seems from Psalm 48, that we, the Church, are to show ourselves to a lost world that we are “beautiful in loftiness, the joy of the whole earth”, and thus to display for all to see the ‘greatness’ of our God, and that he is “most worthy of praise”. Are we making it clear today that “God is in [his Church’s] citadels; he has shown himself to be her fortress”? Let us remember the words of the Apostle Paul: “And God placed all things under [Christ’s] feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the Church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills everything in every way” (Ephesians 1:22-23).
– Bruce Christian