Every time I come to a new psalm, I wonder, how many posts will I need for this one? There is so much to consider in these psalms, so much we can learn from these authors of long ago. Important things about life, about ourselves and about God. And Psalm 48 is no exception.
Spend the next minute or so just reading it for yourself first.
A song. A psalm of the Sons of Korah.
1 Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise,
in the city of our God, his holy mountain.
2 Beautiful in its loftiness,
the joy of the whole earth,
like the heights of Zaphonis Mount Zion,
the city of the Great King.
3 God is in her citadels;
he has shown himself to be her fortress.
4 When the kings joined forces,
when they advanced together,
5 they saw her and were astounded;
they fled in terror.
6 Trembling seized them there,
pain like that of a woman in labour.
7 You destroyed them like ships of Tarshish
shattered by an east wind.
8 As we have heard,
so we have seen
in the city of the Lord Almighty,
in the city of our God:
God makes her secure
9 Within your temple, O God,
we meditate on your unfailing love.
10 Like your name, O God,
your praise reaches to the ends of the earth;
your right hand is filled with righteousness.
11 Mount Zion rejoices,
the villages of Judah are glad
because of your judgments.
12 Walk about Zion, go around her,
count her towers,
13 consider well her ramparts,
view her citadels,
that you may tell of them
to the next generation.
14 For this God is our God for ever and ever;
he will be our guide even to the end.
As an introduction though, I want us to consider just how much hard work went into writing this psalm to bring out the wonderful truths that the psalmist wanted to convey. Now, I cannot read Hebrew, but I can read books in English by those who can and I discovered some fascinating things about this psalm. So here goes.
Its “structure and theme are beautifully matched.” (# 45) In fact, Wilcock calls it “an ingenious poem” and suggests, concerning the authors, that “They believe that a God who is so good to them deserves their best efforts, including all their skill and ingenuity, in the praises they make for him.” He then quotes CS Lewis who writes about the psalmists delight in their ‘plays upon words…plays upon thoughts, paradoxes, fancies, anecdotes…such eloquence, such melody…such sky-rockets of metaphor and allusion…’” (# 5) I think we get the point! Both Wilcock and Lewis were very impressed by the effort the psalmist put into this incredible poem to glorify their God.
I wonder, do we give our best efforts in all that we do for God. Maybe it is in creative writing like the psalmists, maybe it is in other creative ways such as in art, or music. Or maybe it is in the home, in the care of our children, or at work as a teacher, or a student at school or university, or as a person working in business, or in the trades using your hands creatively. Whatever, wherever, whenever, do we consider that our good God deserves our best efforts and so work with this in mind?
Paul wrote to the church in Colosse and spoke about this topic. He writes:
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:12, 17)
He then talks specifically to “Wives…Husbands…Children…Fathers…[and] Slaves…
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, notfor human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:18-24)
As you can see, these words are not just written for pastors or elders or people serving in Christian ministry at home or overseas, but for all followers of Jesus, i.e. for you and me!
Father, may the psalmists inspire us, knowing how good You have been to us, to do our very best for You, whatever we find ourselves doing at this time in our lives. Amen