Psalm 48: Zion, the City of Our God

Zion! The city of our God,
How glorious is the place!
The Savior there has his abode,
And sinners see his face!1

During the last few months of uncertainty and the fear of death by virus casting a shadow on everyday life, I’ve found that a change in perspective brings peace and hope. My thoughts run heavenward, toward Zion, the city of God, the New Jerusalem, my eternal home. What joy washes over me as I contemplate that day when I will gaze on the face of my Savior! Psalm 48 is a beautiful Zion hymn celebrating Jerusalem. It was most likely sung by Israel in their worship of God in His temple. It opens with  words of praise!

Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised
in the city of our God!

His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation,
is the joy of all the earth,

Mount Zion, in the far north2,
the city of the great King.

Within her citadels God
has made himself known as a fortress (vv.1-3).

The LORD is great and worthy of praise! Why? Because He is a mighty fortress. No enemy can penetrate His walls of protection, try as they may. 

For behold, the kings assembled;
they came on together.

As soon as they saw it, they were astounded;
they were in panic; they took to flight.

Trembling took hold of them there,
anguish as of a woman in labor.

By the east wind you shattered
the ships of Tarshish.

As we have heard, so have we seen
in the city of the Lord of hosts,

in the city of our God,
which God will establish forever. Selah

We have thought on your steadfast love, O God,
in the midst of your temple.

As your name, O God,
so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth.

Your right hand is filled with righteousness.
Let Mount Zion be glad!

Let the daughters of Judah rejoice
because of your judgments! (vv. 4-11)

The picture painted in verses 4-8 depicts  God’s holy city surrounded by enemy kings and armies. Meanwhile, fearful and anxious, Israel watches from the ramparts of Jerusalem as panic sets in below. Trembling, the armies take to flight. Historically,  Psalm 48 could be referring to a few situations recorded in the Bible. The first is found in  2 Kings 18-19 (see also Isaiah 36-37) which speaks of Sennacherib king of Assyria, surrounding Jerusalem only to have 185,000 of his men die mysteriously overnight. God won! Another possibility found in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30 speaks of the kings and armies of Moab and Ammon laying siege on Jerusalem. In verse 15 we read, “… thus says the Lord to [Israel], ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s’ .”  Jerusalem looked on as the armies surrounding her began destroying each other! God won! 

In all honesty, it doesn’t matter what horrible situation the psalmist was referring to, God’s justice and righteousness prevailed. These historical events should strengthen our confidence in our God! His steadfast love did not fail. His people rejoiced and were glad!

Walk about Zion, go around her,
number her towers

consider well her ramparts,
go through her citadels,

that you may tell the next generation
that this is God,

our God forever and ever.
He will guide us forever. (vv. 12)

In conclusion, the psalmist summons the people to examine their city and ‘tell the next generation that this is God’ (v.13-14). In other words, God is the fortress. He is the one who delivers His people from their enemies. Those who humbly seek Him alone will find salvation. 

God used Jerusalem as an earthly illustration of an eternal truth. God protected His people physically within the walls of earthly Jerusalem foreshadowing His protection of His people spiritually through the person and work of Christ.  Jesus is our fortress and our salvation.  Jesus is the great King and He is on His throne (Hebrews 10:12)! We have nothing on earth to fear. Jesus never promised us we would never die physically. What He did promise was eternal life for those who trust in Him.

The psalmist ends with these words in the ESV. “[God] will guide us forever” (v.14b). The NASB translates it this way. ‘[God] will guide us until death.” Did you hear that? Until death!  God has every day of my life numbered (Psalm 139:16). I have no reason to fear my enemies, whether they consist of physical armies, terrorist insurgents, cancer, accidents or microscopic viruses I can’t see. God has me in the palm of His hand. He will guide me unto death at which point I will enter His heavenly Jerusalem. In the words of Christ Himself:

“Don’t be troubled. Believe in God, and believe in me. My Father’s house has many rooms. If that were not true, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you?  If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again. Then I will bring you into my presence so that you will be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”

 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you’re going. So how can we know the way?”

 Jesus answered him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:1-6)

So, change your perspective. Gaze heavenward! Gaze on Mount Zion’s great King! Gaze on The Way, The Truth and The Life! Gaze on our Savior, Jesus Christ, who has promised to guide us home.

Ask the Way to Zion
By John Newton

Zion! The city of our God,
How glorious is the place!
The Savior there has his abode,
And sinners see his face!1

Firm, against every adverse shock,
Its mighty bulwarks prove;
‘Tis built upon the living Rock,
And walled around with love.

There, all the fruits of glory grow,
And joys that never die;
And streams of grace, and knowledge flow,
The soul to satisfy.

Come, set your faces Zion-ward,
The sacred road enquire;
And let a union to the LORD
Be henceforth your desire!

The gospel shines to give you light,
No longer, then, delay;
The Spirit waits to guide you right,
And JESUS is the way.

O LORD, regard thy people’s prayer,
Thy promise now fulfill;
And young and old, by grace prepare,
To dwell on Zion’s hill.

“They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, ‘Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.’ ” – Jeremiah 50:53


1 Newton, J., & Cowper, W. (2011). John Newtons Olney hymns. Columbia, SC: Curiosmith, p. 104.

2 Jerusalem is identified as “the far north”. According to Derek Kidner in his commentary  entitled Psalms 1-72, “This was a traditional expression, in Israel and among her neighbors, for God’s royal seat: in Isaiah 14:13 it is equivalent to ‘heaven’” (Intervarsity Press. 1973. p. 196-197).

3 Newton. p. 104

Psalm 27: An Exuberant Declaration of Faith!


How are you doing? I mean, how are you doing? If I were honest, the last few weeks have been hard. It has felt like the enemy has been waging war on my mind, soul and body. Despite my faith and trust in God, fear creeps in. I found myself crying out to the Lord for protection as I withstood the assaults. I longed for God’s presence as I feared He might abandon me. It is during these times especially that I not only love to have my “Jesus time”, as I call it, but I need my “Jesus time”! I need to know that Jesus is with me! It is only through meditation on God’s Word and the power of His Holy Spirit that my thinking and perspective on sin and life circumstances can change. Through meditation on scripture, my perspective becomes God-centered rather than me-centered. In God’s great goodness, He took me to Psalm 27 in my Bible reading this past week!

Written by King David, this psalm is entitled The Psalm of Fearless Trust in God in the New American Standard Bible. I love the New King James title: An Exuberant Declaration of Faith! My spirit is lifted already! This psalm is both an individual lament, as well as a psalm of confidence. Confidence simply means ‘to trust’. Confidence  is the feeling of safety and security knowing that you can rely on someone else. The amount of confidence we have in that someone is based on our past experience with them and knowledge of them.

David opens Psalm 27 with this declaration:

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid? (v.1)

The Lord is my light. The Lord is my salvation. The Lord is my refuge. David knew his God! Why on earth should he be afraid? I know my God, so why should I be afraid? God has been the light that has directed my path. God teaches me the way of righteousness and how to live. God protects me from the “enemies” that encamp around him, including myself.  God alone saves not just my body, but my soul as well. Based on these truths, I have no reason to fear my circumstances. I must consciously place my trust and confidence in God alone. So, what do you believe about God? What do you fear? What or whom do you tend to place your confidence in?

After declaring his beliefs about God, note that David doesn’t ask God to deliver him from his circumstances. David seeks after two things: the beauty of the Lord and to dwell in His presence. Simply put, He seeks after God Himself. He desires God alone! As a consequence of this present “stay at home” order, many of us have had more time to enter God’s sanctuary and gaze upon His beauty in the written Word. He has promised in Jeremiah 29:13 that “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”  Are you seeking after God Himself, or are you seeking after counterfeit idols? I encourage you to seek after Him.

Psalm 27 ends with these words:

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living!
 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord! (vv 13-14)

Believe that you will see God’s goodness. Wait, understanding that God doesn’t always act according to your time table. Be strong and take courage as you wait with expectation. “For the LORD is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 100:5).

How beautiful to live on this side of the cross! We can now see God Himself in the face of Jesus! Even though sin and circumstances may cause us to fear and question, there is no need to be afraid when we place our confidence in Him. Jesus is our salvation (1 Timothy 1:15)! Jesus is our light (John 8:12)! Jesus is our refuge (John 10:28-30)! He will never abandon us (Romans 8:31-39)! Do you believe that? Do you live like that? My prayer is that if you feel fear darkening your soul, you will change your perspective by seeking the face of Christ and make an exuberant declaration of faith. Ravi Zacharias said it well:

“Faith in the biblical sense is substantive, based on the knowledge that the One in whom that faith is placed has proven that He is worthy of that trust. In its essence, faith is a confidence in the person of Jesus Christ and in His power, so that even when His power does not serve my end, my confidence in Him remains because of who He is.”1

As you read and reread this psalm, notice how it is divided. In verses 1-6, David declares what he believes about God, himself and his situation. These declarations are then turned into a prayer to the Lord in verses 7-14. I encourage you to print out a copy of this psalm. Write your thoughts on it. Note repetition of words or phrases, things you learn about God and His character, questions that you may have. May you draw closer to the Lord as you spend time in personal meditation on Psalm 27.

Love in Christ,

Kim Morgan


Psalm 32: The Blessed Joy of Forgiveness

In just a few short days, as sisters in Christ, we will be celebrating the most sacred day of our Christian faith: the death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. As a way to  prepare my heart for Easter, I’ve been meditating on Psalm 32 this week. Psalms were used both during the Old Testament time period and by the church in individual and corporate worship. Even though we can’t worship together physically, I thought that maybe by meditating on a Psalm together, we could unite in worship spiritually.

Psalm 32 is one of seven penitential psalms (or psalms of confession) found in scripture. Did you ever wonder what life would be like  if we never confessed our sin, or maybe never thought of ourselves as sinners? Would we seek a savior? Would we even sense the need to seek a savior? Would we live differently? Would Easter mean anything to us?

After John the Baptist was arrested, Jesus announced, “The time promised by God has come at last!…The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” (Mark 1:15 NLT). As you meditate on Psalm 32, David shares with us the joy and blessing that we can experience in confessing our sin and knowing that it is forgiven.

Read and reread this Psalm over the course of the week. Read it in multiple versions. Make a copy of the text so that you can write notes, thoughts or questions on it. After you have taken time to allow God’s word to penetrate your mind and heart, think about the following questions:

  1. Looking at verses 1-2:
    1. Who does David, the author of this Psalm, consider “blessed” or “happy”?
    2. The apostle Paul quotes these two verses in Romans 4:7-8. What do these verses in Romans add to your understanding of Psalm 32? (See Romans 4:1-10 for context)
  2. Looking at verses 3-7:
    1. David compares the effects of not confessing sin to confessing sin (vv. 3-5). What do you learn?
    2. Based on David’s findings in verses 3-5, what does he encourage us to do in verse 6? Note: David left us with a personal example of a prayer of confession in Psalm 51. Use this Psalm as a template for your own pray as you prepare your heart for Easter.
    3. According to 1 John 1:9, what is God’s promise to those who confess their sin to the LORD?
    4. What is David’s view of God in light of verses 1-7? What is your view of God?
  3. Up to this point, David has been speaking to us, sharing his experiences. Notice that the speaker has changed in verses 8-9. Who is now speaking? What does he say?
  4. Looking at verses 10-11:
    1. David compares the righteous with the wicked. What do you observe about these two groups of people?
    2. David ends this Psalm with praise and worship, confident that God heard his cry of confession, and did not count his sin against him. David trusted that God would forgive. Let me leave you with these words from 1 Peter 2:24: He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.” Take some time this week to respond in worship for what Jesus has done for you!

Please share your thoughts, what the Lord may be teaching you, questions you may have, etc. God intended us to learn from each other and encourage one another! May the Lord bless your week as you seek His face.

Love in Christ,

Kim Morgan

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