even the people of the God of Abraham; whom the God of Abraham has chosen for his people, taken into covenant, given to his Son, and who are redeemed by his blood, and effectually called by his grace; and who, though Gentiles, belong to the same covenant and the same covenant God as Abraham did, and have the blessing of Abraham upon them; and are indeed his spiritual seed, being Christ's. The Targum is, "the people that believe in the God of Abraham". The words may be rendered in connection with the former clause, "gathered together unto the people of the God of Abraham" (h); and so denote the association of the Gentiles converted with the believing Jews, as was at the first times of the Gospel, and will be at the latter day, 1 Corinthians 12:13;
for the shields of the earth belong unto God; that is, the rulers of the earth, as the word is rendered in Hosea 4:18; who are as a shield and a protection to their subjects; these are set up and put down by the Lord at his pleasure; and their hearts are in his hands, and he can convert them when he pleases, and gather them to his Son, and into his churches; or, as Jarchi interprets it,
"he has power in his hands to protect as with a shield all that trust in him;''
safety is of the Lord; the protection of the world and of the church is from him who is King over all the earth;
he is greatly exalted; that is, Christ, who has all power in heaven and in earth; he is highly exalted at the right hand of God, angels, authorities, and powers, being subject to him.
(g) "voluntarii populorum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius. (h) So Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Gejerus.
INTRODUCTION TO Psalm 48
A Song and Psalm for the sons of Korah. This psalm is entitled a "song psalm", a psalm to be sung vocally; or "a song and psalm" to be sung both vocally and instrumentally; and is one of the spiritual songs the apostle speaks of, Ephesians 5:19; It was occasioned, as some think, by David's spoiling the Philistines, 2 Samuel 5:17; or, as others, by the deliverance of the people from the Moabites and Ammonites in the times of Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 20:27; or, as others, by the deliverance of the inhabitants of Jerusalem from Sennacherib in the times of Hezekiah, 2 Kings 19:34; though as Kimchi, a celebrated Jewish commentator, owns, it belongs to the times of the Messiah, as the other preceding psalms; and treats of his greatness, and of the praise and glory due to him, and gives large encomiums of his church.
and greatly to be praised in the city of our God; the city of Jerusalem, the city of solemnities, where was the worship of God, and where the tribes went up to worship, and God was present with his people; and where the great Lord of all showed himself to be great; here Christ the great Saviour appeared, even in the temple, when a child, where Simeon and Anna saw him, and spoke great things of him; where he at twelve years of age disputed with the doctors, and showed his great wisdom; here when grown up he wrought many of his great miracles, and taught his doctrines; here he entered in great triumph, attended with the shouts, acclamations, and hosannas of the people; here he ate his last passover with his disciples; and in a garden near it was he taken and brought before the sanhedrim, assembled at the high priest's palace at Jerusalem; and then tried and condemned at the bar of Pilate; when being led a little way out of the city he was crucified on Mount Calvary; and on another mount, the mount of Olives, about a mile from it, he ascended to heaven; and here in this city he poured forth the Spirit in an extraordinary manner on his disciples at the day of Pentecost, as an evidence of his ascension; and from hence his Gospel went forth into all the world; and therefore was greatly to be praised here, as he was by his disciples, church, and people, Acts 2:46. Jerusalem is a figure of the Gospel church, which is often compared to a city, Isaiah 26:1; of which saints are citizens and fellow citizens of each other; this is a city built on Christ the foundation; is full of inhabitants, when together and considered by themselves; is governed by wholesome laws, enacted by Christ its King, who has appointed officers under him to explain and enforce them, and see that they are put in execution; and has many privileges and immunities belonging to it; and this is the city of God, of his building and of his defending, and where he dwells; it is, as in Psalm 48:2; "the city of the great King", the King Messiah, and where he displays his greatness; here he appears great and glorious, shows his power and his glory; is seen in the galleries and through the lattices of ordinances, in his beauty and splendour; here he grants his gracious presence, and bestows his favours and blessings; and is therefore greatly to be praised here, as he is by all his people on the above accounts, Even
in the mountain of his holiness; as Mount Zion is called on account of the temple built upon it, and the worship of God in it; and a fit emblem it was of the church of Christ, which, as that is, is chosen and, loved of God, and is his habitation, is impregnable and immovable, and consists of persons sanctified by God the Father, in the Son, and through the Spirit.
the joy of the whole earth: that is, the city of Jerusalem, Lamentations 2:15; especially it was so when Christ, whose birth near it was matter of great joy to all people; when he who is the desire of all nations was in it; and when the Gospel went out from it unto the whole earth, and caused joy wherever it came in power, and with the Holy Ghost: and the church of Christ, particularly in the latter day, will be an eternal excellency, and a joy of many generations, Isaiah 60:15; and even now the whole world has reason to rejoice and be glad, because of the church of Christ in it, who are the light of the world and the salt of the earth, and on whose account the world continues, and the men of it enjoy the blessings they do;
is Mount Zion; or "by Mount Zion": Jerusalem was near it, and beautifully situated by it;
on the sides of the north; Jerusalem was north of Zion, as Zion was south of Jerusalem; likewise the temple was on the north part of Mount Zion, Isaiah 14:13; the altar and altar gate were on the north side at the temple, and there were the tables on which the sacrifices were slain, Ezekiel 8:5; and on the north side of the altar was the creature to be offered killed, Leviticus 1:11; and perhaps some reference is here had to the church of Christ in the latter day, which for many years past has been chiefly in our northern part of the world: hence the Protestant doctrine is by the Papists called the Northern Heresy; and it will be "tidings out of the north" that shall trouble the man of sin, or some agent of his, to come forth with fury, and plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas, in the glorious holy mountain, Daniel 11:44;
the city of the great King; of Christ the King of kings; See Gill on Psalm 47:2; and See Gill on Psalm 48:1.
they passed by together; either to the battle, as Jarchi explains it; or they passed by Jerusalem, the city of our God, the church, without entering into it, or doing it any harm.
and so their marvelled: at the glory of the church, the security of it, the power of Christ in it and over it, and at the destruction of mystical Babylon; see Isaiah 52:14;
they were troubled: as Herod and all Jerusalem were, upon hearing of the birth of Christ, Matthew 2:3; so these kings will be, upon seeing the coming and power of Christ in the latter day, the invincibleness of his church, and their own immediate and utter ruin: this will be the time or the howling of the shepherds, both civil and ecclesiastical, when all hands will be faint, and every man's heart will melt, Zechariah 11:2;
and hasted away: fled for fear of the great King at the head of his armies, in the defence of his church and people: and as the kings of the earth also at the destruction of Rome will flee and stand afar off, for fear of her torment, Revelation 18:10.
and pain, as of a woman in travail; this figure is made use of elsewhere, when the destruction of Babylon and the coming of Christ are spoken of; see Isaiah 13:8.
"the Israelites shall say in that day, as we have heard the prophets, who prophesied of the fall of Gog and Magog, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts.''
The words may be understood, either of facts which have been reported and heard to have been done in time past, to which others will correspond, and will be seen to do to in the latter day; as, for instance, as it has been heard that God inflicted plagues upon Egypt; so it will be seen that he will pour out the vials of his wrath upon the great city, which is spiritually called Egypt and Sodom: as it has been heard that God brought his people Israel out of Egypt with a mighty hand; so it will be seen that he will deliver his people from the captivity and tyranny of the man of sin, and will call them out from Babylon a little before the destruction of it: as it has been heard that Pharaoh and his host were drowned in the Red sea; so it will be seen that Babylon shall be thrown down like a mill stone cast into the sea, and be found no more: as it has been heard that, literal Babylon is destroyed; so it will be seen that mystical Babylon will be destroyed also: and as it has been heard that the kings of the nations, at several times, have gathered themselves together against Jerusalem, without effect; so it will be seen treat the kings of the earth will assemble together against the church of Christ; but, as soon as they shall come up to her, and look upon her, they shall be astonished and flee with the utmost consternation, fear, and dread, and be utterly ruined: or else the sense is, as it has been heard, from the promises and prophecies delivered out from time to time, that God will grant his presence to his church and people, and will be the protection of them, and will destroy all his and their enemies; so it has been seen that these have been fulfilled, more or less, in all ages; in the latter day their accomplishment will be full and manifest, even
in the city of the Lord of hosts; of the hosts of heaven and earth, of all armies above and below; and therefore the church must be safe under his protection;
in the city of our God: the covenant God of his people; wherefore, as the former title declares his power, this shows his love and affection, and both together secure the happiness of the saints: wherefore it follows,
God will establish it for ever. Not only particular believers, of which the church consists, are established on the foundation, Christ; but the church itself is built on him, the Rock against which the gates of hell cannot prevail; yet as they are not always in a settled and constant condition, so neither is that, being sometimes tossed with the tempests of afflictions and persecutions, and sometimes in one place, and sometimes in another; but in the latter day it will be established on the top of the mountains; and which is a desirable thing by all the saints, and what they should, as many do, earnestly pray for; and which God will do in his own time; and then it shall be established for ever, and be a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of its stakes shall be removed, nor any of its cords broken, Isaiah 2:2, Isaiah 33:20.
Selah; on this word; see Gill on Psalm 3:2.
in the midst of thy temple; the church of Christ, which is of his building, where he dwells, and grants his presence, and is often called the temple of God in the New Testament, in allusion to Solomon's temple; see 1 Corinthians 3:16; here the word of God is preached, his ordinances administered, and his presence granted; which are instances of his lovingkindness, and lead his people to think of it; and particularly when the faithful ministers of the Gospel make mention of it, and the ordinance of the supper is administering, which is intended to bring to remembrance the love of God and Christ: moreover, in the latter day, to which this psalm belongs, the temple of God will be opened, Revelation 11:19; that is, the true worship of God will be restored, and pure and undefiled religion freely exercised; the Gospel will be clearly and fully preached; and the ordinances administered as they were first delivered, which will lead the saints to think of the lovingkindness of God unto them; and particularly when they shall see the angels with the seven vials the executioners of God's wrath on the antichristian states, go forth from the temple to pour them out upon them, Revelation 15:6.
thy right hand is full of righteousness: of all spiritual blessings for his people; and particularly of the righteousness of Christ, which God accepts of, imputes unto, and liberally bestows upon them: and it is also full of punitive justice, which he inflicts on his and their enemies; his right hand teaches him terrible things, and these terrible things he does in righteousness; all his works are in righteousness, which the right hand, being the instrument of action, is a token of. Moreover, Christ is the right hand of God; he is the man of his right hand, and as dear to him as his right hand; he is the right hand of his righteousness, by which he upholds his people; and this right hand of his is full of righteousness; he does nothing else but righteousness; he is the author and donor of it to his people, and will execute righteousness upon his enemies; in righteousness he will make war with them, Revelation 19:11; and which is greatly the sense of this passage, as appears by Psalm 48:11.
let the daughters of Judah be glad; particular churches; and so the Targum renders it, "the congregations of the house of Judah"; or particular believers; such as are called the daughters of Jerusalem, and the daughters of Zion, Sol 3:10; these are exhorted to joy and gladness, at the loving kindness of God, at the spread of his name and glory to the ends of the earth, and at his righteousness his right hand is full of; and as it follows,
because of thy judgments; executed on the antichristian kings, Psalm 48:4; and on all the antichristian states, and on the whore of Babylon, and those who have committed fornication with her; see Revelation 19:1.
tell the towers thereof; see 2 Chronicles 26:9; the Lord himself is the tower of his people, high and strong, which secures and defends them from all their enemies, Psalm 18:2; the ministers of the Gospel, who are immovable, and are set for the defence of it, Jeremiah 6:27; the Scriptures of truth, which are like a tower built for an armoury, out of which the saints are furnished and provided with proper armour, whereby they are able to engage with false teachers, and to overcome the evil one, Sol 4:4; and the ordinances of the Gospel, the church's two breasts, said to be as towers, Sol 8:10; some render the words, "tell in the towers" (i); publish on the house tops, declare in the high places of the city, in the most public manner, the great things of the Gospel, which relate to the glory of Christ and his church.
(i) , Sept. "in turribus ejus", V. L.
consider her palaces; for Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit, have their dwelling places in Zion; and here, besides apostles, prophets, evangelists, and ordinary ministers of the word, who are rulers and officers set in the first place, every saint is a prince and a king; and has a place and a name here, better than that of sons and daughters of the greatest potentate on earth; every dwelling place in Mount Zion is a palace.
that ye may tell it to the generation following: that is, the beauty and glory, strength and safety of the church; and even all that is spoken of her in this psalm, as well as what follows: this is the end proposed by taking a circuit round Zion, and making the above observations on it.