Worthy to be Praised

Posted: December 15, 2011 in Psalms

Psalms 46-48, “Worthy to be Praised”

Although all of the psalms in some way look at the present circumstances of those who wrote them, it’s evident that the primary subject of the psalms is Christ Jesus, and much of what is said of Him is prophetic.  The psalms are the hymnbook of Israel, so it is to be expected that some of the songs that are sung of Christ are prophetic, looking at times at His 1st coming & other times at His 2nd.  Much of what is seen in the triad of Psalms 46-48 is the work & praise of Christ the King during His 2nd coming & Millennial reign.

Whenever we read the Bible, we need to be careful to not fall into the trap of thinking that the OT is about Israel & the NT is about the Church – the entirety of the Bible is about the Lord Jesus Christ!  And those who follow Him at all points in history sing of His praise & His glory – whether that is the clarity of the revelation given to the apostle John, or the shadows and hints given by the Holy Spirit to the sons of Korah (or whomever the psalmist).

What we see here is exactly the glory of Jesus.  We see Him as the protector – the exalted one – the victor.  Our Jesus is worthy of praise!

Psalm 46 (NKJV) – The Protector King
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. A Song For Alamoth.

  • “Alamoth” is somewhat mysterious.  Many believe this is a reference to maidens.  Perhaps it’s musical instruction, designating a high pitch tambourine, or intended specifically to be sung by a female chorus.  Whoever sang it, it’s a glorious psalm, and the inspiration for Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”
  • Vss. 1-3, Refuge in the storm

1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.

  • God provides shelter.  The refuge was the fortress that people could run to for safety.  The cities of refuge were places that accused people could await a fair trial in case they had killed someone by accident.  Whether by spiritual attack or personal sin, we find our refuge in Christ, Who is our fortress!
  • God provides strength.  Obviously strength is a parallel thought with a fortress of refuge, but there’s some additional thought here.  If a “refuge” is thought of in purely defensive terms, “strength” takes on a more offensive aspect.  Jesus is the one who fights on our behalf – He is our strong deliverer!
  • God provides support.  God is not ambivalent to the needs of His people – He is “a very present help.”  He is more than just a “place” or a “power”, He is a Person, and He is more than willing to help those who come to Him in faith.
  • When does God provide it?  When it’s most needed: in our times of suffering!

2 Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

  • Notice the “therefore.”  What is the result of God being our refuge, shelter, and help?  We will not fear.  We have no reason to fear because our God is with us in amazing ways!
    • If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31)
    • God does not give us a spirit of fear. (2 Tim 1:7)
    • God repeatedly tells us not to fear.  Over 50 times in the Bible, people are exhorted not to fear.
    • So why DO we fear?  Perhaps it’s because we are not looking to Jesus as our constant strength (as with Peter when he walked on water – Mt 14:30).  More likely, perhaps it’s because we’re dealing with unconfessed sin in our own lives, and we don’t feel as if we CAN look to Jesus.  It’s interesting that the very 1st instance of humanity being afraid was in the Garden of Eden, when Adam & Eve hid their nakedness (Gen 3:10).  If we are in Christ, we know that there is nothing we need fear – so when fear comes, ask yourself: am I looking to Jesus, or am I hiding from Him?
  • When shouldn’t we fear?  Ever!  We have no reason to fear, no matter what.  Even if all of creation seems to tear apart at the seams & become “uncreated,” we need not fear.
    • When life is falling apart, remember whom it is you serve!  We have been bought by the blood of Jesus – we belong to the Living God – we have been made children of our Heavenly Father.  We have resources in prayer beyond our wildest imaginations.
  • The language the psalmist uses to describe the events is interesting.  Mountains being carried into the sea – earthquakes – the roaring waters…what does all of this sound like?  Judgment.  Jesus spoke of events like these happening in the end times…Matt 24, Luke 21.  The apostle John saw events like these during the trumpet judgments – Rev 8.  Even the plain language of a flood reminds us of Noah & the judgment poured out upon the earth.  Yet in the midst of these things, the people of God have no reason to fear.
    • Christians have no reason to fear judgment!  We will not fear – WHY?  Because God is our refuge & strength & help!  Christ Himself is our refuge.  We have not been appointed to wrath.
    • Objection: “But this sounds more like the nation of Israel in this psalm rather than the Church?”  Correct.  And the promises do not change.  Obviously the Church need not fear the coming days of the Tribulation because of the promise of the blessed hope of the Rapture.  But the Tribulation Jews need not fear either because they will be sealed by God.  The earth may fall apart around them, and Antichrist may seek to destroy them, but their protection will be in Christ Jesus.
  • Vss. 4-7, Refuge in war

4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.

  • In the middle of the world falling apart, there is one place of safety & peace: “the city of God.”  This is the place of God’s tabernacle, where the people of God worship Him.  Some look at the description of the river of vs. 4 & see Christ as the living water pouring out blessings upon His people to worship Him.
  • Yet there’s another more literal aspect of this which cannot be ignored.  The current & historical city of Jerusalem cannot really be in sight here because it’s unique among ancient major cities of the world in that it has no river running through it.  Yet Jerusalem is obviously the place where the people of God would go to worship.  How to reconcile this?  It seems the psalmist may not be thinking of the historical Jerusalem, but the New Jerusalem which has a pure river of the water of life that proceeds from the throne of God & the Lamb. (Rev 22:1)

5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. 6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

  • God is the protector of those within the city.  Those who worship Him (at the tabernacle) find their comfort & safety in God.
  • Armageddon…  Peter writes about this with the glory of the 2nd coming.  2 Peter 3:11–13, "(11) Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, (12) looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? (13) Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." []

7 The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

  • Covenant promises of God to rise up & fight.
  • Covenant protection of God to be the place of safety
  • Vss. 8-11, God establishes peace

8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has made desolations in the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.

  • There’s a bit of irony here.  The desolations and wrath of God is what makes it possible for peace to be established upon the earth.
  • We know this is exactly what will happen.  Swords will be beaten into plowshares, and people will no longer learn war, nor rise up against another nation. (Isa 2:4)
  • If it seems strange that the wrath of God brings peace, we need look no further than Jesus’ 1st coming.  The wrath of God was poured out upon Jesus at the cross, yet that was the very event that makes it possible for us to have peace with God.

10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

  • Practical exhortation!  We know that God will make His power and His presence known when He pours out His wrath upon the earth.  We know that Jesus will be overpowering in His 2nd coming as He returns in glory on a white horse with a sword from His mouth.  We look forward to that day with great expectation and joy.  Yet what do we do now when the world seems to overpower us today?  What do we do when it seems that our personal world is coming apart at the seams?  Wait upon God!  “Be still, and know that I am God,” – don’t panic, don’t fear – be still!
  • We can trust that God will exalt Himself in due time.

11 The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

  • Repetition of the refrain.  Who is it that will be exalted?  The glorious God & Messiah, the Lord of hosts (armies) – the God of Jacob.  We can trust God’s future work and deliverance because of the faithfulness of His covenant promises.

 

Psalm 47 (NKJV) – The Praised King
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.

  • Vss. 1-4, the reign of God #1

1 Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph!

  • What a great call to worship!  J  Clap – shout – do whatever it takes to give God praise!
  • Notice the plural “peoples.”  This is a song of Israel, but it’s an invitation that goes out into all the earth with all the nations.  One day every nation will be subject to the King of kings, and they are invited to start in with the praise today.

2 For the LORD Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth. 3 He will subdue the peoples under us, And the nations under our feet. 4 He will choose our inheritance for us, The excellence of Jacob whom He loves. Selah

  • Why do we praise God passionately with everything we are?  The psalmists gives 4 reasons.
  • Reason #1: God is awesome.  KJV says “terrible,” but English has changed a bit – awesome is the true thought here.  God is beyond our comprehension in every possible scope.  He is infinite in love, holiness, wrath, and wisdom. 
    • How is He described?  As the “LORD Most High.”  Most high over what?  Over every high position.  This is a reference to Jesus as the King of all kings.
  • Reason #2: God is the King.  He is the Sovereign Ruler over all the earth.  There is nothing that is outside His power and control.
  • Reason #3: God is the Victor.  There is no power that can come against Him – there is no enemy that can possibly defeat Him.  Satan can rise up with all his might and demonic forces and the nations of the world, and still go down in defeat by a simple word from the All-powerful God!
  • Reason #4: God has chosen us.   He has chosen us for His own as His children to receive His inheritance.  He loved Jacob (Israel) with an everlasting love, and His promises to His chosen people will remain true in every respect.
    • What an amazing display of grace it is to be chosen by God!
  • Vss. 5-7, call to praise

5 God has gone up with a shout, The LORD with the sound of a trumpet.

  • In English, it almost sounds as if this is a battle cry of God – with Him going out to war with the sound of bugles urging Him on.  Yet culturally, this is a totally different picture than what the psalmist likely had in mind.  “Going up” usually meant “going up to Jerusalem,” because Jerusalem was on a hill – thus this is talking about God ascending to His throne.  The “trumpet” is the shofar – the hollowed out ram’s horn used to call the people into assembly & to worship.  The whole picture that’s painted is one of God ascending to His glorious throne, with all His people assembled to give Him praise.
  • In one sense, we can think of Jesus’ ascension after He was raised from the dead, but contextually with the thought of the King of King being acknowledged by all the nations of the earth, it’s best to think of this as the day Jesus reigns as the Messianic King over all the earth – perhaps this is the song that will be sung the moment He takes His earthly throne.

6 Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! 7 For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with understanding.

  • Just in case you missed the intent, God wants us to sing. J  It’s good to sing praises to God! … SING!  Jesus is worth singing about.
  • When you sing, know why you’re singing.  “Sing praises with understanding.”  Some translations render this, “Sing praises with a skillful song,” or a “song of praise.”  The idea is that we would be singing properly to God for the right reasons.  Be careful of just singing a song because it’s fun to sing, or because everyone else is doing it.  Our songs ought to speak properly about God.  It’s not a matter of turning off our minds to sing a song, but to truly sing to God, meaning the lyrics which we sing.  Thus it’s important that our songs be doctrinally sound.
  • Vss. 8-9, the reign of God #2

8 God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne.

  • This is true in the present.  This is even more true in the future.  God certainly reigns today, but during the Millennial Kingdom, there will be no doubt that Jesus reigns over all the nations when He sits upon His holy throne.

9 The princes of the people have gathered together, The people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; He is greatly exalted.

  • All the peoples of the earth will worship Him!  Whether the rulers of the Gentiles, or the people of Israel, one day everyone will recognize Jesus as the King & serve Him alone.  “Shields” is a reference to rulers/leaders – all of the defenses of the earth will belong to God & serve the purposes of Christ. 
  • How high will Christ be exalted?  Greatly exalted!  God will lift Him up to the highest place before every eye upon the earth.  Paul puts it so plainly!  Philippians 2:9–11, "(9) Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, (10) that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, (11) and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." []

 

Psalm 48 (NKJV) – The City of the King
A Song. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.

  • Vss. 1-8, God’s protection of Zion

1 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised In the city of our God, In His holy mountain.

  • God is great.  Ps 47 ends with the exaltation of God – Ps 48 begins with the declaration of the greatness of God.  He is majestic beyond comprehension – glorious beyond declaration – gracious beyond imagination…our God is truly great!
  • God is greatly to be praised.  He is both worthy to be praised, and worthy to be praised with a great passion from His people.
  • Where is God to be praised?  In Zion (the city of our God).  The people of Israel could sing this about God when the psalm was originally written.  All of us can sing it about God in the New Jerusalem.

2 Beautiful in elevation, The joy of the whole earth, Is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, The city of the great King. 3 God is in her palaces; He is known as her refuge.

  • Obviously to the rest of the world, Jerusalem would not be thought of as the most beautiful city in the world – yet to the citizen of the kingdom, it surely is.  During the Millennial Kingdom, there’s no doubt it will be the joy of the whole earth.
  • The biggest question isn’t whether or not if Jerusalem is beautiful, but WHY is it beautiful?  Because God is there!  It’s the city of the King – Jesus is the one that makes it beautiful.
    • Why is heaven called “heaven”?  Because Jesus is there!
    • Why are you & I beautiful in the sight of God?  Because of the work of Jesus!

4 For behold, the kings assembled, They passed by together. 5 They saw it, and so they marveled; They were troubled, they hastened away. 6 Fear took hold of them there, And pain, as of a woman in birth pangs, 7 As when You break the ships of Tarshish With an east wind.

  • The psalmist doesn’t give us a precise background – apparently there was a time in which kings of the earth assembled against the city & were destroyed by God.  Historically, some scholars believe this might be a reference to the Assyrian invasion by Sennacherib (2 Kings 19), yet that was only one nation.  Others believe this might be a reference to the confederacy of nations that came against Judah under King Jehoshaphat.  God routed them by turning them against each other. (2 Chr 20).
  • Prophetically, this could speak of either the war of Gog/Magog or even Armageddon.  Ezekiel 38 tells us of a war in which a massive confederacy of nations will come against Israel, and God will supernaturally destroy them, providing a witness to the entire world of God’s love for Israel.  Of course, at the battle of Armageddon, the kings that comprise the world nations in rebellion against God (and under the leadership of Antichrist) will descend upon Israel, only to be swiftly destroyed by the 2nd coming of the Glorious Lord Jesus Christ.  Indeed, they will be “troubled,” and God will have the victory!

8 As we have heard, So we have seen In the city of the LORD of hosts, In the city of our God: God will establish it forever. Selah

  • The people had a testimony of God’s faithfulness.  They had heard it with their own ears – they had seen it with their own eyes – they knew God’s work & power, and they were able to trust Him for both the present time & the future needs & give Him praise as a result.
    • Have you seen the work of the Lord?  If nothing else, have you seen His work in your salvation?  If you can trust Him with that, what can God not be trusted with?!
  • God establishes & strengthens His people.  God established the city – but obviously a city is both a reference to a location and a people.  Likewise, God establishes us as His Church, and will continue to establish us in the future as the city of the New Jerusalem.
  • How long are God’s promises kept?  Forever!  There will never come a time in which the promises of God will be broken.  There will never come a time in eternity when God just gets tired of you & decides that you’re not one of His children.  Eon after eon will pass, and God’s promises will remain firm – He will establish us as His own people (the bride of Christ) forever!
  • Vss. 9-14, the praise of the people of Zion

9 We have thought, O God, on Your lovingkindness, In the midst of Your temple. 10 According to Your name, O God, So is Your praise to the ends of the earth; Your right hand is full of righteousness.

  • Think upon the “lovingkindness” of God.  Chesed – covenantal loyal love.
  • Why can God be praised according to His name?  Because His name reflects His character.  He is the faithful I AM – the Jehovah Jireh – the Lord of Hosts – the God who provides salvation…  God’s name shows His righteous character & He is worthy of praise among all the earth!

11 Let Mount Zion rejoice, Let the daughters of Judah be glad, Because of Your judgments.

  • Note why Zion & Judah could rejoice: because of the “judgments” of God.  There are two main ideas here:
    • God’s word is comprised of His judgments.  The same word is used throughout the OT when speaking of the commandments, statutes, and judgment.  The law of God can be thought of as the judgment of God. His word comprises His command & rule for us, and we can rejoice in His holy judgment when we read His word.
    • God’s wrath is due to His judgments.  Obviously God’s judgment is also seen when His wrath is poured out upon the ungodly & rebellious.  Is this something in which we can rejoice?  Yes!  Our very salvation is due to the judgment of God!  When Jesus hung upon the cross, it was because the wrath of God had to be satisfied due to the sin of mankind – the theological term is “propitiation.”  God judged Jesus in our place, and we received His righteousness & grace in return.  You bet we can be glad & rejoice in the judgment of God!

12 Walk about Zion, And go all around her. Count her towers; 13 Mark well her bulwarks; Consider her palaces; That you may tell it to the generation following. 14 For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide Even to death.

  • Looking at the city that God has established.  Is the psalmist just admiring the architecture?  Yes & no.  It wasn’t so much the city, as Who is is that established it.  Note the “for” in verse 14.  We are to admire Zion WHY?  Because of God.  This is the work of God, and it’s something for which He is worthy of praise.
    • Again, take it back to us as to what Jesus does with the city of the New Jerusalem.  As a city, this is a place whose builder & maker is God (Heb 11:10).  As a people, Jesus does something even more wonderful – He establishes US.  Ephesians 5:25–27, "(25) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, (26) that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, (27) that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." []  We often quote this in reference to a husband’s role in his marriage (which certainly applies!), but it’s primary teaching is what Jesus does for us as His bride.  He establishes us by washing & cleansing & sanctifying us.  He makes us into a glorious bride that will be admired by the rest of the heavenly host.  When the bride descends out of heaven as the New Jerusalem, we’re told that she has the glory of God (Rev 21:11).  What amazing work God has done – what amazing grace Jesus bestows upon us as He establishes us as His own!
  • THE God is OUR God.  Hearkens back to His loyal love – His “chesed” lovingkindness.  He has called us to Himself, and made us His people.  This is not something we would have chosen, nor something we could have done if we had wanted to.  We were too rebellious & sinful – we had no ability at all.  Yet this is something God has done!  He called us to Himself & gave us His name.  The one and only God has become our God by the grace of God!
  • He is our God forever – even unto death!

Conclusion:
When was the last time you erupted in worship?  Jesus is worthy of our praise!

  • Jesus is our protector – don’t fear!
  • Jesus is the exalted one – give Him passionate praise!
  • Jesus is the victor & the master builder – rejoice in His work & grace!

The work that our Lord has done for His people is utterly astounding!  We’ve seen it in the days of the psalmists when God delivered Judah out of multiple threats – we’ve seen it in our own days when Jesus procured our personal salvation – we will see it in the future when the enemy is forever defeated & Jesus is visibly established as the reigning King of kings.  He is certainly MORE than worthy of praise.

Don’t miss out on the joy of praising the Lord!  How often people come & gather for a “worship” service thinking that the songs are just something to “get out of the way.”  May it never be so with us!  Worship is certainly far bigger than our singing, but God certainly commands us to worship Him WITH our singing.  And He’s worthy to receive any and all of the worship that we give Him.  So may we give it to Him in abundance!  We know we will be praising Jesus in eternity – but may we take every opportunity to join in it today, as well.

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