Psalm 48:4
For, see, the kings were assembled, they passed by together.
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(4) The kings.—With the striking picture of the advance and sudden collapse of a hostile expedition that follows, comp. Isaiah 10:28-34; possibly of the very same event.

The kings.—Evidently known to the writer, but, alas! matter of merest conjecture to us. Some suppose the kings of Ammon, Moab, and Edom, who attacked Jehoshaphat (2Chronicles 20:25); others, the tributary princes of Sennacherib. In his annals, as lately deciphered, this monarch speaks of setting up tributary kings or viceroys in Chaldæa, Phoenicia, and Philistia, after conquering these countries. (See Assyrian Discoveries, by George Smith, p. 303.) Others again, referring the psalm to the time of Ahaz, understand Pekah and Rezin (2Kings 15:37). The touches, vivid as they are, of the picture, are not so historically defined as to allow a settlement of the question.

Assembled.—Used of the muster of confederate forces (Joshua 11:5).

Passed by—i.e., marched by. So, according to the time reading, the LXX. A frequent military term (Judges 11:29; 2Kings 8:21; Isaiah 8:8). Others, “passed away,” but it is doubtful if the verb can have this meaning.

Together.—Notice the parallelism, they came together, they passed by together.

Psalm 48:4-6. For lo, the kings were assembled — The neighbouring princes confederate against Jerusalem: see the contents. They passed by — In their march toward Jerusalem. They advanced, and marched on, not doubting but they should presently make themselves masters of the city. Or, they passed away together — Departed without the success which they desired and expected. They saw it — They only looked upon it, but did not enter it, nor shoot an arrow there, nor cast a bank against it, as was said upon this or the like occasion, 2 Kings 19:32. They marvelled — Not so much at the structure or strength of the city, as at the wonderful works wrought by God on its behalf. They were troubled, and hasted away — God impressed such terrors upon their minds as made them retire with precipitation. If he refer to the invasion by Sennacherib, he may allude to the fear he and his army were put into by tidings of Tirhakah’s coming against them; or to that terrible slaughter of them, mentioned 2 Kings 19:35. Thus “the potentates of the world saw the miracles of the apostles, the courage and constancy of the martyrs, and the daily increase of the church, notwithstanding all their persecutions; they beheld, with astonishment, the rapid progress of the faith through the Roman empire; they called upon their gods, but their gods could not help themselves. Idolatry expired at the foot of the victorious cross, and the power which supported it became Christian.” — Horne.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.For, lo, the kings were assembled - There is evidently allusion here to some fact that had occurred; some gathering together of kings and their armies, with a view to besiege or attack Jerusalem. The kings referred to, if the allusion here is, as is supposed, to the time of Jehoshaphat, were the kings of Ammon and of Moab, and of Mount Seir, and perhaps others, not particularly mentioned, who came up against Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 20:1, 2 Chronicles 20:10.

They passed by together - That is, they were smitten with consternation; they were so impressed with the beauty, the majesty, the strength of the city, that they passed along without venturing to attack it. Or, perhaps, the meaning may be, that they were discomfited and overthrown as suddenly "as if" the mere sight of the city had filled their minds with dread, and had made them desist from their intended assault. Compare 2 Chronicles 20:22-25.

4-6. For—The reason is given. Though the kings (perhaps of Moab and Ammon, compare Ps 83:3-5) combined, a conviction of God's presence with His people, evinced by the unusual courage with which the prophets (compare 2Ch 20:12-20) had inspired them, seized on their minds, and smitten with sudden and intense alarm, they fled astonished.4 For, lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together.

5 They saw it, and so they marvelled; they were troubled, and hasted away.

6 Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail.

7 Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east wind.

8 As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever. Selah.

Psalm 48:4

"The kings were assembled, they passed by together." They came and they went. No sooner together than scattered. They came one way and fled twenty ways. Boastful the gathering hosts with their royal leaders, despairing the fugitive bands, with their astonished captains. They came like foam on the angry sea, like foam they melted away. This was so remarkable that the Psalmist puts in a note of exclamation, "Lo!" What! have they so suddenly fled! Even thus shall the haters of the church vanish from the field, Papists, Ritualists, Arians, Sceptics, they shall each have their day, and shall pass on to the limbo of forgetfulness.

Psalm 48:5

"They saw it, and so they marvelled." They came, they saw, but they did not conquer. There was no veni, vidi, vici for them. No sooner did they perceive that the Lord was in the Holy City, than they took to their heels. Before the Lord came to blows with them, they were faint-hearted, and beat a retreat. "They were troubled and hasted away." The troublers were troubled. Their haste in coming was nothing to their hurry in going. Panic seized them, horses were not fleet enough; they would have borrowed the wings of the wind. They fled ignominiously, like children in a fright. Glory be to God, it shall be even thus with the foes of his church; when the Lord cometh to our help, our enemies shall be as nothing. Could they foresee their ignominious defeat, they would not advance to the attack.

Psalm 48:6

"Fear look hold upon them there." They were in Giant Despair's grip. Where they hoped to triumph, there they quivered with dismay. They did not take the city, but fear took hold on them. "And pain, as of a woman in travail." They were as much overcome as a woman whose fright causes premature delivery; or as full of pain as a poor mother in her pangs - a strong expression, commonly employed by Orientals to set forth the extremity of anguish. When the Lord arises for the help of his church, the proudest of his foes shall be as trembling women, and their dismay shall be but the beginning of eternal defeat.

Psalm 48:7

"Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east wind." As easily as vessels are driven to shipwreck, dost thou overturn the most powerful adversaries; or it may mean the strength of some nations lies in their ships, whose wooden walls are soon broken; but our strength is in our God, and therefore, it fails not; or there may be another meaning, though thou art our defence, yet thou takest vengeance on our inventions, and while thou dost preserve us, yet our ships, our comforts, our earthly ambitions, are taken from us that we may look alone to thee. God is seen at sea, but he is equally present on land. Speculative heresies, pretending to bring us wealth from afar, are constantly assailing the church, but the breath of the Lord soon drives them to destruction. The church too often relies on the wisdom of men, and these human helps are soon shipwrecked; yet the church itself is safe beneath the care of her God and King.

Psalm 48:8


Either those kings confederate against Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 20; or the Assyrian princes, whom they vain-gloriously called

kings, Isaiah 10:8.

They passed by, in their march towards Jerusalem. Or, they passed away, i.e. departed without the success which they desired and confidently expected. For, lo, the kings were assembled,.... As the princes of the Philistines to seek for David, when in the strong hold of Zion, 2 Samuel 5:17; as the Ethiopians in the time of Asa, 2 Chronicles 14:9; and the Moabites and Ammonites in the times of Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 20:1; and the kings of Syria and Israel in the times of Ahaz, Isaiah 7:1; and Sennacherib with his princes, who, in his esteem, were kings, in the times of Hezekiah, 2 Kings 18:17; which are instances of the kings, of the nations' gathering together against Zion, the city of Jerusalem, and people of the Jews, who were typical of the church of Christ; and that without success, and to their own confusion and destruction; though this seems to refer to the latter day of the Gospel dispensation, when all the kings of the earth, Pagan, Papal, and Mahometan, will be gathered together at the instigation of Satan, to the battle of the great day of the Lord God Almighty, in a place called Armageddon, where they will be defeated by Christ the King of kings, Revelation 16:13. Jarchi and Kimchi interpret the passage of Gog and Magog gathering together to fight against Jerusalem, with which compare Revelation 20:8;

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.

For, lo, the kings were {e} assembled, they passed by together.

(e) They conspired and went against God's people.

4. For, lo, the kings assembled themselves (R.V.): Sennacherib’s vassal kings (Isaiah 10:8) met at their rendezvous (cp. Psalm 2:2): they passed over together; uniting their forces they crossed the frontier and entered the land of Judah. Cp. Isaiah 8:7-8; Isaiah 28:15. The rendering passed away (R.V. marg.) is possible but unsuitable, for (1) assembled themselves needs some further explanation, and (2) it interrupts the order of the description: it is not until they have seen Jerusalem (Psalm 48:5) that they disperse in confusion. P.B.V. kings of the earth is from the Vulg. Cp. Psalm 76:12.Verse 4. - For lo, the kings were assembled; they passed by together. Some see in these "kings" Sennacherib's princes, who, according to him (Isaiah 10:8), were "altogether kings." But actual monarchs, each leading his own army, seem rather to be intended. (Heb.: 47:5-9) The ascent of God presupposes a previous descent, whether it be a manifestation of Himself in order to utter some promise (Genesis 17:22; Judges 13:20) or a triumphant execution of judgment (Psalm 7:8; Psalm 68:19). So here: God has come down to fight on behalf of His people. They return to the Holy City and He to His throne, which is above on Zion, and higher still, is above in heaven. On בּתרוּעה and קול שׁופר cf. Psalm 98:6; 1 Chronicles 15:28, but more especially Amos 2:2; for the "shout" is here the people's shout of victory, and "the sound of the horn" the clear sound of the horns announcing the victory, with reference to the celebration of the victory in the Valley of praise and the homeward march amidst the clanging music (2 Chronicles 20:26.). The poet, who has this festival of victory before his mind as having recently taken place, desires that the festive sounds may find an unending and boundless echo unto the glory of God. זמּר is first construed with the accusative as in Psalm 68:33, then with the dative. Concerning משׂכּיל equals ᾠδὴ πενυματική (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16), vid., on Psalm 32:1. That which excites to songs of praise is Jahve's dominion of the world which has just been made manifest. מלך is to be taken in just the same historical sense as ἐβασίλευσας, Revelation 11:15-18. What has taken place is a prelude of the final and visible entering upon the kingdom, the announcement of which the New Testament seer there hears. God has come down to earth, and after having obtained for Himself a recognition of His dominion by the destruction of the enemies of Israel, He has ascended again in visible kingly glory. Imago conscensi a Messia throni gloriae, says Chr. Aug. Crusius, tune erat deportatio arcae faederis in sedem regni.
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