Psalm 48:6
Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.Fear took hold upon them there - Trembling seized them; they were filled with sudden consternation. That is, as soon as they saw the city, or had a distinct view of it, they became alarmed.

And pain - Distress; anguish. The distress arising from disappointed hopes, and perhaps from the apprehension of their own safety. They were filled with dismay.

As of a woman in travail - This comparison is often used in the Scriptures to denote the severest kind of pain. Compare Jeremiah 4:31; Jeremiah 6:24; Jeremiah 13:21; Jeremiah 22:23; Jeremiah 30:6; Jeremiah 49:24; Micah 4:9-10; Isaiah 53:11.

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. Partly at the tidings of Tirhakah’s coming against them, 2 Kings 19:9, and partly for that terrible slaughter of their army there, 2 Kings 19:35.

Fear took hold upon them there,.... That is, either when they came up to the city, and passed by it, and saw what they did; or, as Kimchi observes, in the place where they thought to have made a great slaughter; that is, in Armageddon, Revelation 16:16; so upon the slaughter of the seven thousand names of men, or men of name and renown, such as the kings here assembled, the remnant will be frightened, Revelation 11:13;

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.

Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. Trembling took hold of them there:

Pangs, as of a woman in travail.

Cp. Exodus 15:14-15; and for the phrase though in a different connexion, Isaiah 33:14, “Trembling hath taken hold of the godless.”

Verse 6. - Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail. This description is wholly inapplicable to the destruction of Sennacherib's host, unperceived until it was accomplished (2 Kings 19:35), but is sufficiently in agreement with the narrative of 2 Chronicles 20:1-23. Psalm 48:6(Heb.: 48:4) 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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