By Debbonnaire Kovacs, posted July 1, 2015
Psalm 48, version found in the Book of Common Prayer
Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised;
in the city of our God is his holy hill.
The earliest forms of castles or fortresses were hills with wooden palisades on them for defense. If you were the city of our God, what would be the hill within you? Where is the high place where you praise God, the place from which you can look back and look (in a limited way) forward—the place of sure defense?
Beautiful and lofty, the joy of all the earth, is the hill of Zion,
the very center of the world and the city of the great King.
In a very real sense, each one of us is the center of our own worlds—not in a selfish or self-seeking way, just in the sense that we can only look outward from where we are. Does the great King dwell in your center?
God is in her citadels;
he is known to be her sure refuge.
When others look at you and at what they can see of your life, can they see that God is your sure refuge? Do they know that God is your first recourse in every difficulty and in every joy?
Behold, the kings of the earth assembled
and marched forward together.
They looked and were astounded;
they retreated and fled in terror.
Trembling seized them there;
they writhed like a woman in childbirth,
like ships of the sea when the east wind shatters them.
Stand on your inner hill and look back. Mentally assemble all the troubles and evils that have come against you. How quickly did they retreat in terror? Were you able to hold your ground and cling to the King until they did? What did you learn, each time, that served you for the next assault?
As we have heard, so have we seen,
in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God;
God has established her forever.
We may be wailing, “How long, O Lord?” until the true consummation comes. But we can be established forever now. The Lord of all the hosts of angels can inhabit our city and reign on our hill, making it holy.
We have waited in silence on your loving-kindness, O God,
in the midst of your temple.
Do you know your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit? Do you spend time in silence within, waiting on God’s chesed, that quality for which there is no good English term—or indeed, human term—that we call “loving-kindness”?
Your praise, like your Name, O God, reaches to the world’s end;
your right hand is full of justice.
Everybody knows, really. They may not all recognize what they know. Some may consciously reject it. But all humans know, at the heart of them (on their own inner hills, which they may rarely visit) that there is a Creator who judges wisely and who will make things right.
Let Mount Zion be glad
and the cities of Judah rejoice,
because of your judgments.
Does the thought of God’s justice make you rejoice? If not, you may need to reconsider how you define God’s justice.
Make the circuit of Zion;
walk round about her;
count the number of her towers.
Consider well her bulwarks;
examine her strongholds;
that you may tell those who come after.
On a regular basis, make the circuit around your soul. Count the towers. Be sure they’re in good repair. Consider foundations and fortifications. Examine your strongholds and be sure they are ones you truly want to live within. Then tell the world:
This God is our God for ever and ever;
God shall be our guide for evermore.