It is always a pleasure to read the Psalms and discover what must have been on each author’s mind as he penned Holy Spirit inspired words. Sometimes the psalms are melancholy. They have a sadness to them such as Psalm 137 which speaks of despondent captives in Babylon weeping over their beloved city of Jerusalem. There are psalms that are powerful in their encouragement of trust in God’s Word such as Psalm 119. Other psalms are simply joyful ecstatic praises. Just about every human emotion is reflected in at least one of the psalms.
I particularly like psalms such as Psalm 48. There is a mystery about them. There is some uncertainty as to the exact events that prompted these psalms. Nonetheless, the themes are often filled with wonder. They are marvelous in their implications. This psalm speaks of a siege against Jerusalem. It is an unnamed war that could have occurred almost any time during the one thousand years of the Old Testament history of Jerusalem. We can well imagine there were many unrecorded battles and we only get the highlights of many years of war.
We cannot pinpoint the exact siege, but we do know there was a force of several nations that was ready to attack the city (v. 4). Many kings were assembled and as they were ready to attack they saw something that stopped them dead in their tracks. Jerusalem was not an immense heavily fortified city like Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire. Nineveh had walls one hundred feet high and wide enough for six chariots to drive side by side. Its circumference was sixty miles with twelve hundred towers. A force contemplating attacking Nineveh might well turn back just because of the immensity of the city.
Jerusalem was nothing like this. The sight of it would not likely frighten a league of many nations. And yet, verse 5 says this coalition of armies came upon the city, saw it, and immediately fled away. What was it that caused them to turn around and high-tail it away? At one time, Sennacherib’s army was ready to attack Jerusalem and it was those inside that were gripped with fear. King Hezekiah thought their doom was sealed until he earnestly sought God for deliverance.
This time was different. The invaders saw something that turned them away. Perhaps God pulled down the veil that separates the physical world from the spiritual and He allowed them to see who the real protectors of God’s people are. The sight of ten thousands of angels with flaming swords of fire would be enough to cause the bravest soldiers to quake with fear. Whatever it was, there were no Jewish casualties. Not one tower of Jerusalem suffered a blow. In verses 12 and 13, the people were invited to come outside the city, to inspect it, and to see that despite such a formidable foe Jerusalem was left untouched.
It seems Psalms 46-48 are connected and may have a view towards the millennial kingdom. In that day, Jerusalem will be a magnificent city, and apparently immune from attack. However, this will not stop Satan from trying. He will gather his forces against Jerusalem, but before he ever gets the chance to attack, fire falls from heaven and consumes them all (Revelation 20:9). Does this psalm reflect the celebration of God’s victory on that day? There is no way we can know for sure, but we do know the same will happen then. There is no enemy too great for the armies of God.
Think about this when you wonder who is on your side. Our victory with Christ is assured. The last verse of the psalm can be personalized to you. God is your God forever. Not even death can separate you from Him. This is a great thought for saints that patiently await the coming of Christ. Do you have this hope? It is yours by faith in Jesus Christ. Trust Him today and know you are on the winning side.
Pastor V. Mark Smith