Questions for Littles: Where does v1 say the Lord is greatly to be praised? What does v2 call the city of the great King? Who is in that city’s palaces (3a)? What kind of defenses does it have (3b)? What happens to her enemies and competitors (4-7)? Where does God make us witnesses to how He will establish His church forever (v8)? What do we think upon there (v9)? What is done wherever God is known (v10)? Of what is His right hand full (v10)? How do His people respond to His judgments (v11)? Who in particular, from among His people, rejoice at His judgments (11)? What reason does v13 give for spending time in Zion, counting her towers, marking well her bulwarks, and considering her palaces? What does v14 teach us to conclude and commit to, about God, as a result of thinking about what He does for Zion?This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, and Confession of Sin came from Psalm 48. We’ve recently been learning some amazing things about the church as the Lord’s household and family, and this Psalm now brings us to consider the church as His city.
First, it is beautiful. When all of history is said and done, we will see that the City of God has been the crown jewel of His work in this world. From every place where we look, we will marvel at her and enjoy her, according to v2.
Why? Quite simply, because God is in her. He is not only her beauty, but her strength, v3. That’s a difficult thing for us to recognize sometimes, because the church is full of sinners. If we just consider them, she frankly seems pretty ugly and weak. But that’s just the point of v3. When we come to church on the Lord’s Day, and look around, our minds and hearts should be hushed with wonder: God Himself is the beauty of this people! God Himself is the strength of this people!
Indeed, those who seem most impressive in this age (v4) will soon be wrecked by the comparative glory of the church (v5-7). And week by week, we get to be reminded of that fact, as we gather in one of the her current outposts (v8). Do you remember that, dear Christian—that when you are gathered with a true congregation of Christ’s church on the Lord’s Day, it is an outpost of that lasting city whose builder is God? It is the city of Yahweh of hosts, and there we can hear and see the true outcome of all things!
A visit there will make us wonder not so much at the weak and sinful people who are there, but upon the steadfast covenant love of the God who has chosen them for His temple (v9). He is spreading His fame in His church across the world (v10), so that we should not be embarrassed even of His judgments, but rejoice in them and be glad (v11). Dear daughters, because of Christ’s blood spilled for you, you are enabled to admit that we all deserve utter destruction, and that God is righteous whenever He carries it out!
So, let us spend good time in His city (12a), paying attention to it in great detail (12b), because we know who is her protection and her palaces (13). It is in recognizing who God is for the church as a whole that we delight that we are His, and He is ours—that we reject all other gods and all other guides, and commit ourselves wholeheartedly to Him (14). Pass on to children and grandchildren this love of the church (13b)!
What church do you go to there? What are some unimpressive things about it? Yet, is the gospel preached there? Is God known? Is He being faithful? Is it part of that forever-glorious church that this Psalm is talking about? What should your attitude be about coming, and while you are there?Suggested songs: ARP48B “Within Your Temple,” or HB438 “Within Thy Temple’s Sacred Courts”