Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 48

By Joseph Benson


Verse 1
Psalms 48:1. Great is the Lord, &c. — Great is the majesty and the power of Jehovah; who is therefore to be celebrated with the highest praises; in the city of our God — Especially in his own city Jerusalem, and by the inhabitants of it; in the mountain of his holiness — In that mountain which he hath long ago set apart for the place of his worship, and hath now so marvellously defended.

Verse 2
Psalms 48:2. Beautiful for situation is mount Zion — A beautiful place it is, which he hath chosen for his habitation; and that which especially renders it beautiful is, that it is the mountain of God’s holiness, the place where, in infinite wisdom, he hath fixed his sanctuary. The joy of the whole earth — For the law was to go forth out of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem; the joyful doctrine of the gospel, the glad tidings of salvation, were to go out from thence unto all nations. The words however may be rendered, The joy of the, or this, whole land: for God’s sanctuary, the solemn feasts kept there, and the vast multitudes of people who from time to time assembled at them, rendered it a most desirable place. On the sides of the north — It lies on the north side of Jerusalem; the city of the great King — Of Jehovah, the King of heaven and earth. Zion, however, is thought by some to have been situated on the south side of the mountain; but the temple stood on the north side of it, and was its peculiar honour and distinction.

Verse 3
Psalms 48:3. God is known — To his people, by sensible and long experience; in her palaces — In the habitations of the city, and not only in the cottages, or meaner dwellings, but in the palaces: the princes and great men have recourse to God, and seek help from him. Possibly he may point at the king’s palace and the temple, which was the palace of the King of heaven; which two palaces God did in a singular manner protect, and, by protecting them, protected the whole city and people. For a refuge — Under whose shadow his people are more safe and secure than other cities are with their great rivers and impregnable fortifications. “Thus the great Founder of the church is also her protector and defender. The dependance of the new Jerusalem, like that of the old, is not in man, or in the arm of flesh, but in God, who resideth in the midst of her. For, surely, unless he kept the city, the watchmen in the towers would wake but in vain.” — Horne.

Verses 4-6
Psalms 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.

Verse 7
Psalms 48:7. Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish, &c. — Thou didst no less violently and suddenly destroy these raging enemies of Jerusalem, than sometimes thou destroyest the ships at sea with a fierce and vehement wind, such as the eastern winds were in those parts.

Verse 8-9
Psalms 48:8-9. As we have heard, so have we seen — The predictions of the prophets have been verified by the events. Or, we have had late and fresh experience of such wonderful works of God, as before we only heard of by the report of our fathers. God will establish it for ever — God will defend her in all succeeding ages. And so God would have done, if Jerusalem had not forsaken him, and forfeited his protection. We have thought of thy loving-kindness — It hath been the matter of our serious and deep meditation, when we have been worshipping in thy temple. For when the priests were offering incense, or sacrifices, the religious people were wont to exercise themselves in holy meditation and secret prayer to God, Luke 1:10. Or, we have silently, or patiently waited for thy loving- kindness, as דמינו חסדךְ, dim-minu chasdecha, more properly signifies, and some ancient and other interpreters render it. A consideration of the wondrous works which God has wrought for us tends to produce faith in his promises, and resignation to his will: “and he,” says Dr. Horne, “that with these dispositions waits for God’s mercies, in God’s house, shall not wait in vain.”

Verse 10
Psalms 48:10. According to thy name, so is thy praise — Thou art acknowledged, and evidently proved, to be such a one as thou hast affirmed thyself to be in thy word, God Almighty, or All-sufficient, the Lord of hosts, the King of thy church and people, a strong tower to all that trust in thee; and whatever else thou art said to be in Scripture. None of thy names are empty titles, but all of them are fully answered by honourable and praiseworthy works. Thy right hand is full of righteousness — That is, of righteous actions, by which thou discoverest thy truth, justice, and holiness, in destroying the wicked and incorrigible enemies of thy people, and in fulfilling thy promises made to thy church.

Verse 11
Psalms 48:11. Let mount Zion rejoice — That is, Jerusalem; let the daughters of Judah — The other lesser cities, towns, and villages; be glad, because of thy judgments — Upon thy and their enemies. Let the mother city give an example of joy and thankfulness to all the smaller places, and to the whole kingdom, and let them unanimously join together, with the greatest gladness, to express how sensible they are of thy power and goodness in the wonderful deliverance granted them. Just so, “the church and all her children ought to rejoice with joy unspeakable, on account of the manifestation of divine power on her behalf against her enemies. Thus, at the fall of mystic Babylon, it is said, Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets, for God hath avenged you on her, Revelation 18:20.” — Horne.

Verse 12-13
Psalms 48:12-13. Walk about Zion, &c. — He speaks probably to the people of the city and kingdom, who had been eye-witnesses of the glorious work God had wrought for their deliverance. Bishop Patrick thus paraphrases the words: “Make a solemn procession, and go round about the city, blessing and praising God, with thankful hearts, who hath preserved you from being begirt by the enemy. Tell all the towers as you go along, and see if there be so much as one wanting, or the least hurt done to any of them.” Some commentators, however, think that he speaks to the hostile kings and their armies, who had come up against Jerusalem, and had gone round her to reconnoitre her strength, in order to take her, but who were now fled away; and that he calls upon them to return, and go round her again, and see how entire her fortifications were; and bids them tell the next generation, that it would be in vain to attempt any thing against her while she had Jehovah for her protector.

Verse 14
Psalms 48:14. This God, &c. — Who hath done this great work for us; is our God — Who alone can protect us, and will be our defender, if we depend upon him, for ever and ever. He will be our guide even unto death — While we have a being. He will not content himself with having delivered and preserved us once; but will be our conductor, and will exercise a most tender care over us, such as a shepherd doth over his sheep, all the days of our life. Birth and life, and the several ages of life and death, are often ascribed to churches and commonwealths, both in the Scriptures and in other authors. This promise was made to the old and earthly Jerusalem, upon condition of their obedience, in which, as they grossly failed, they lost the benefit of it; but it is absolutely made good to the new and heavenly Jerusalem, the church of Christ, and all the true members thereof. Observe, reader, if Jehovah be our God, he will be our guide, our faithful, constant guide, to show us our way to true happiness here and hereafter, and to lead us in it; he will be so even unto death, which will be the period of our way, and will bring us to our rest. He will conduct us safe to felicity and immortality on the other side of death, to a life most blessed, in which there shall be no more death nor suffering. If we take the Lord for our God, he will convey us safe to death, through death, and beyond death; down to death, and up again to glory.


Book Navigation Title Page Table of Contents Argument Introduction ► Chapter 1 ► Chapter 2 ► Chapter 3 ► Chapter 4 ► Chapter 5 ► Chapter 6 ► Chapter 7 ► Chapter 8 ► Chapter 9 ► Chapter 10 ► Chapter 11 ► Chapter 12 ► Chapter 13 ► Chapter 14 ► Chapter 15 ► Chapter 16 ► Chapter 17 ► Chapter 18 ► Chapter 19 ► Chapter 20 ► Chapter 21 ► Chapter 22 ► Chapter 23 ► Chapter 24 ► Chapter 25 ► Chapter 26 ► Chapter 27 ► Chapter 28 ► Chapter 29 ► Chapter 30 ► Chapter 31 ► Chapter 32 ► Chapter 33 ► Chapter 34 ► Chapter 35 ► Chapter 36 ► Chapter 37 ► Chapter 38 ► Chapter 39 ► Chapter 40 ► Chapter 41 ► Chapter 42 ► Chapter 43 ► Chapter 44 ► Chapter 45 ► Chapter 46 ► Chapter 47 ► Chapter 48 ► Chapter 49 ► Chapter 50 ► Chapter 51 ► Chapter 52 ► Chapter 53 ► Chapter 54 ► Chapter 55 ► Chapter 56 ► Chapter 57 ► Chapter 58 ► Chapter 59 ► Chapter 60 ► Chapter 61 ► Chapter 62 ► Chapter 63 ► Chapter 64 ► Chapter 65 ► Chapter 66 ► Chapter 67 ► Chapter 68 ► Chapter 69 ► Chapter 70 ► Chapter 71 ► Chapter 72 ► Chapter 73 ► Chapter 74 ► Chapter 75 ► Chapter 76 ► Chapter 77 ► Chapter 78 ► Chapter 79 ► Chapter 80 ► Chapter 81 ► Chapter 82 ► Chapter 83 ► Chapter 84 ► Chapter 85 ► Chapter 86 ► Chapter 87 ► Chapter 88 ► Chapter 89 ► Chapter 90 ► Chapter 91 ► Chapter 92 ► Chapter 93 ► Chapter 94 ► Chapter 95 ► Chapter 96 ► Chapter 97 ► Chapter 98 ► Chapter 99 ► Chapter 100 ► Chapter 101 ► Chapter 102 ► Chapter 103 ► Chapter 104 ► Chapter 105 ► Chapter 106 ► Chapter 107 ► Chapter 108 ► Chapter 109 ► Chapter 110 ► Chapter 111 ► Chapter 112 ► Chapter 113 ► Chapter 114 ► Chapter 115 ► Chapter 116 ► Chapter 117 ► Chapter 118 ► Chapter 119 ► Chapter 120 ► Chapter 121 ► Chapter 122 ► Chapter 123 ► Chapter 124 ► Chapter 125 ► Chapter 126 ► Chapter 127 ► Chapter 128 ► Chapter 129 ► Chapter 130 ► Chapter 131 ► Chapter 132 ► Chapter 133 ► Chapter 134 ► Chapter 135 ► Chapter 136 ► Chapter 137 ► Chapter 138 ► Chapter 139 ► Chapter 140 ► Chapter 141 ► Chapter 142 ► Chapter 143 ► Chapter 144 ► Chapter 145 ► Chapter 146 ► Chapter 147 ► Chapter 148 ► Chapter 149 ► Chapter 150