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Psalm chapter 48

What does Psalm chapter 48 mean?

This passage parallels ideas found in Psalms 44, 46 and 47. The city of Jerusalem is held up as a living example of God's greatness. The writer notes that history—to that point—had established the city as a place fortified by the power of the Lord (Psalm 48:1–3).

During the reign of Jehoshaphat, several nations combined forces to attack Jerusalem. Through God's miraculous intervention, the assault was thwarted without Israel needing to fight, at all (2 Chronicles 20). This psalm's description of kings fleeing in panic may refer to that event. Symbolically, the enemy's fear was as all-consuming as the pain of a woman giving birth. Likewise, mention of "ships of Tarshish" and "the east wind" appear to be symbolic notes describing God's vast superiority to any forces which might attack Jerusalem (Psalm 48:4–9).

Those viewing the city in the psalmist's time are encouraged to look at the intact walls, towers, and other defensive measures. These inspire the people living there—the "daughters of Judah"—to acknowledge God's favor. This reputation spreads around the entire world, along with God's glory. That the city is untouched hints at the failed siege of Sennacherib (2 Kings 19), which was routed by the Lord before any attack could be mounted. Just as prior generations passed along stories of God's redemption, so too should those who hear the psalm plan to tell others about the great things God had done for Israel (Psalm 48:10–14).
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