Mark you well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that you may tell it to the generation following.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Consider.—The Hebrew word is peculiar to this passage. The root idea seems to be divide, and the natural sense of divide her palaces is, take them one by one and regard them.2 Samuel 20:15; Isaiah 26:1. (Gesenius, Lexicon) The Septuagint translates it here: δύναμις dunamis, power; the Vulgate, "virtus," courage; Luther, "Mauern" - walls.
Consider her palaces - The word "palaces" here refers to the royal residences; and, as these were usually fortified and guarded, the expression here is equivalent to this: "Consider the "strength" of the city; its power to defend itself; its safety from the danger of being taken." The word rendered "consider" - פסגוּ pasegû - is rendered in the margin "raise up." The word occurs nowhere else in the Bible. According to Gesenius (Lexicon), it means to "divide up;" that is, to walk through and survey them; or, to consider them accurately, or in detail, one by one. The Vulgate renders it "distribute;" the Septuagint, "take a distinct view of (Thompson);" Luther, "lift up." The idea is, "examine attentively" or "carefully."
That ye may tell it to the generation following - That you may be able to give a correct account of it to the next age. The "object" of this is to inspire the next generation with a belief that God is the protector of the city; that it is so strong that it cannot be vanquished; that there is safety in such a city as that. As applied to the church now, or at any time, it means that we are to take such views of its being a true church of God; of its being fixed on firm foundations; of its being so able to resist all the assaults of Satan, and of its being so directly under the divine protection, that it has nothing to fear. It will and must stand to all coming time, a place of absolute safety to all who seek protection and safety within it. The following remarks of Dr. Thomson (Land and the Book, vol. ii., 474, 475), may furnish an illustration of what the ancient defenses in the city may have been, and especially of the word "towers" in this passage in the Psalms: "The only castle of any particular importance is that at the Jaffa Gate, commonly called the Tower of David. The lower part of it is built of huge stones, roughly cut, and with a deep "bevel" round the edges.
They are undoubtedly ancient, but the interspersed patch-work proves that they are not in their original positions. I have been within it, and carefully explored all parts of it that are now accessible, but found nothing which could cast any light upon its history. It is believed by many to be the Hippicus of Josephus, and to this idea it owes its chief importance, for the historian makes that the point of departure in laying down the line of the ancient walls of Jerusalem. Volumes have been written in our day for and against the correctness of this identification, and the contest is still undecided; but, interesting as may be the result, we may safely leave it with those who are now conducting the controversy, and turn to matters more in unison with our particular inquiries. Everything that can be said about this grand old tower will be found in the voluminous works of Williams, Robinson, Schultz, Wilson, Fergusson, and other able writers on the topography of the Holy City."Consider; or, exalt, or admire, Tell it to the generation following, that they may be excited to continue their praises to God for this mercy, by which they hold and enjoy all their blessings, and to trust in God in the like difficulties for the future. Psalm 125:2. Also salvation by Christ; his righteousness, sacrifice, and satisfaction, which God has appointed for walls and bulwarks, and which make the city, the church, a strong and impregnable one, Isaiah 26:1. Likewise the Spirit of God, and his operations and influences, which are a standard against the enemy's flood of opposition and persecution; and who being in his church and people, is greater than he that is in the world, Isaiah 59:19, 1 John 4:4. Some render the words, set "your hearts on her strength", as the Vulgate Latin version; that is, on Christ, who is the strength of the poor and needy in their distress; the strength of their hearts, of their lives, and of their salvation, and the security of the church. Others readier them, "set your hearts on her armies"; as the Targum is; her volunteers, her soldiers, who endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ, fight the Lord's battles, and are more than conquerors through him; and a lovely sight it is to behold them, with Christ at the head of them; see Revelation 19:14;
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.Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)13. bulwarks] The outer wall or rampart.
consider] Or, as R.V. marg., traverse. The word occurs here only, and is of doubtful meaning. But the rendering consider suits the context better. In either case the object is to convince themselves of the safety of the city. P.B.V. set up is derived from some Jewish authorities.
that ye may tell it] Cp. Psalm 22:30-31; Psalm 44:1.Verse 13. - Mark ye well her bulwarks (or, her ramparts), consider her palaces. Note the height and fine masonry of her outer wall, which no people could destroy except the Romans (Nehemiah 1:3; Nehemiah 2:13-17; Nehemiah 4:6). And note also the grand houses of her princes and nobles (Amos 6:11), which show themselves even above the ramparts. That ye may tell it to the generation following. That ye may let them know "how splendid Jerusalem appeared on the morrow of its great danger" (Cheyne). Psalm 48:3, where the pointing is rightly נודע, not נודע, shows that the praise sung by the poet is based upon an event in contemporary history. Elohim has made Himself known by the loftily built parts
(Note: lxx: ἐν ταῖς βάρεσιν αὐτῆς, on which Gregory of Nyssa remarks (Opera, Ed. Paris, t. i. p. 333): βάρεις λέγει τάς τῶν οἰκοδομημάτων περιγραφεὶς ἐν τετραγώνῳ τῷ σχήματι.)
of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:7) למשׂגּב (the ל that is customary with verbs of becoming and making), i.e., as an inaccessible fortress, making them secure against any hostile attack. The fact by which He has thus made Himself known now immediately follows. המּלכים points to a definite number of kings known to the poet; it therefore speaks in favour of the time of peril and war in the reign of Jehoshaphat and against that in the reign of Hezekiah. נועד is reciprocal: to appoint themselves a place of meeting, and meet together there. עבר, as in Judges 11:29; 2 Kings 8:21, of crossing the frontier and invasion (Hitzig), not of perishing and destruction, as in Psalm 37:36, Nahum 1:12 (De Wette); for נועדו requires further progress, and the declaration respecting their sudden downfall does not follow till later on. The allies encamped in the desert to Tekoa, about three hours distant from Jerusalem. The extensive view at that point extends even to Jerusalem: as soon as they saw it they were amazed, i.e., the seeing and astonishment, panic and confused flight, occurred all together; there went forth upon them from the Holy City, because Elohim dwells therein, a חרדּת אלהים (1 Samuel 14:15), or as we should say, a panic or a panic-striking terror. Concerning כּן as expressive of simultaneousness, vid., on Habakkuk 3:10. כּאשׁר in the correlative protasis is omitted, as in Hosea 11:2, and frequently; cf. on Isaiah 55:9. Trembling seized upon them there (שׁם, as in Psalm 14:5), pangs as of a woman in travail. In Psalm 48:8, the description passes over emotionally into the form of address. It moulds itself according to the remembrance of a recent event of the poet's own time, viz., the destruction of the merchant fleet fitted out by Jehoshaphat in conjunction with Ahaziah, king of Israel (1 Kings 22:49; 2 Chronicles 20:36.). The general meaning of Psalm 48:8 is, that God's omnipotence is irresistible. Concerning the "wind of the east quarter," which here, as in Ezekiel 27:26, causes shipwreck, vid., on Job 27:21. The "ships of Tarshish," as is clear from the context both before and after, are not meant literally, but used as a figure of the worldly powers; Isaiah (Isaiah 33) also compares Assyria to a gallant ship. Thus, then, the church can say that in the case of Jerusalem it has, as an eye-witness, experienced that which it has hitherto only heard from the tradition of a past age (ראה and שׁמע as in Job 42:5), viz., that God holds it erect, establishes it, for ever. Hengstenberg observes here, "The Jerusalem that has been laid in ruins is not that which the psalmist means; it is only its outward form which it has put off" [lit. its broken and deserted pupa]. It is true that, according to its inner and spiritual nature, Jerusalem continues its existence in the New Testament church; but it is not less true that its being trodden under foot for a season in the kairoi' ethnoo'n no more annuls the promise of God than Israel's temporary rejection annuls Israel's election. The Holy City does not fall without again rising up.
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