|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
48:1-7 Jerusalem is the city of our God: none on earth render him due honour except the citizens of the spiritual Jerusalem. Happy the kingdom, the city, the family, the heart, in which God is great, in which he is all. There God is known. The clearer discoveries are made to us of the Lord and his greatness, the more it is expected that we should abound in his praises. The earth is, by sin, covered with deformity, therefore justly might that spot of ground, which was beautified with holiness, be called the joy of the whole earth; that which the whole earth has reason to rejoice in, that God would thus in very deed dwell with man upon the earth. The kings of the earth were afraid of it. Nothing in nature can more fitly represent the overthrow of heathenism by the Spirit of the gospel, than the wreck of a fleet in a storm. Both are by the mighty power of the Lord.
Verse 1. - Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; rather, great is the Lord, and greatly is he praised. The psalmist speaks of what is, not of what ought to be. Jehoshaphat had solemnly praised God for the deliverance from the Moabites and Ammonites, both in the valley of Berachah, when he came upon the bodies of the slain (2 Chronicles 20:26), and in the temple after his return to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 20:28). In the city of our God (comp. Psalm 46:4; Psalm 101:8). In the mountain of his holiness. The "holy hill of Zion" (Psalm 2:6), on which the temple and a great part of the city stood.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Great is the Lord,.... The same that in the foregoing psalm is said to be gone, up to heaven with a shout, to sit on the throne of his holiness, to reign over the Heathen, and to be King over all the earth; who is great, and the Son of the Highest; the great God and our Saviour; great in his person as God-man, God manifest in the flesh, his Father's fellow and equal; and in the perfections of his nature, being of great power, and of great wisdom, and of great faithfulness, and of strict holiness and justice, and of wonderful grace and goodness; great in his works of creation and providence; in his miraculous operations when on earth, and in the work of man's redemption and salvation; great is he in all his offices, a great Prophet risen in Israel, a great High Priest over thee house of God, a Saviour, and a great one, and the great Shepherd of the sheep;
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 Treasury of David
1 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.
2 Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, the sides of the north, the city of the great King.
3 God is known in her palaces for a refuge.
"Great is the Lord." How great Jehovah is essentially none can conceive; but we can all see that he is great in the deliverance of his people, great in their esteem who are delivered, and great in the hearts of those enemies whom he scatters by their own fears. Instead of the mad cry of Ephesus, "Great is Diana." we hear the reasonable, demonstrable, self-evident testimony, "Great is Jehovah." There is none great in the church but the Lord. Jesus is "the great Shepherd," he is "a Saviour, and a great one," our great God and Saviour, our great High Priest; his Father has divided him a portion with the great, and his name shall be great unto the ends of the earth. "And greatly to be praised." According to his nature should his worship be; it cannot be too constant, too laudatory, too earnest, too reverential, too sublime. There is none like the Lord, and there should be no praises like his praises. "In the city of our God." He is great there, and should be greatly praised there. If all the world beside renounced Jehovah's worship, the chosen people in his favoured city should continue to adore him, for in their midst and on their behalf his glorious power has been so manifestly revealed. In the church the Lord is to be extolled though all the nations rage against him. Jerusalem was the peculiar abode of the God of Israel, the seat of the theocratic government, and the centre of prescribed worship, and even thus is the church the place of divine manifestation. "In the mountain of his holiness." Where his holy temple, his holy priests, and his holy sacrifices might continually be seen. Zion was a mount, and as it was the most renowned part of the city, it is mentioned as a synonym for the city itself. The church of God is a mount for elevation and for conspicuousness, and it should be adorned with holiness, her sons being partakers of the holiness of God. Only by holy men can the Lord be fittingly praised, and they should be incessantly occupied with his worship.
"Beautiful for situation." Jerusalem was so naturally, she was styled the Queen of the East; the church is so spiritually, being placed near God's heart, within the mountains of his power, upon the hills of his faithfulness, in the centre of providential operations. The elevation of the church is her beauty. The more she is above the world the fairer she is. "The joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion." Jerusalem was the world's star; whatever light lingered on earth was borrowed from the oracles preserved by Israel. An ardent Israelite would esteem the holy city as the eye of the nations, the most precious pearl of all lands. Certainly the church of God, though despised of men, is the true joy and hope of the world. "On the sides of the north, the city of the great King." Either meaning that Jerusalem was in the northern extremity of Judah, or it may denote that part of the city which lay to the north of Mount Zion. It was the glory of Jerusalem to be God's city, the place of his regal dwelling, and it is the joy of the church that God is in her midst. The great God is the great King of the church, and for her sake he rules all the nations. The people among whom the Lord deigns to dwell are privileged above all others; the lines have fallen unto them ill pleasant places, and they have a goodly heritage. We who dwell in Great Britain in the sides of the north, have this for our chief glory, that the Lord is known in our land, and the abode of his love is among us.
"God is known in her palaces for a refuge." We worship no unknown god. We know him as our refuge in distress, we delight in him as such, and run to him in every time of need. We know nothing else as our refuge. Though we are made kings, and our houses are palaces, yet we have no confidence in ourselves, but trust in the Lord Protector, whose well-known power is our bulwark.
Wesley's Notes on the Bible
48:1 The city - In Jerusalem. Mountain - In his holy mountain.
Psalm 48:1 Parallel Commentaries
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