Theme: Rejoicing in Zion
From this week’s lessons we learn that this Song of Zion is fundamentally a song of praise to God, who watches over his people in all times and forever.
Scripture: Psalm 48:1-14
In my opinion, one of the nicest parts of this psalm is the concluding section in which the people are invited to walk around the city, count the towers and consider the ramparts and citadels, that the perfect nature of God’s recent deliverance might be impressed on their minds so they might be able to remember it vividly and so be able to pass it on to their children and their children’s children (vv. 12, 13).
The great Puritan theologian John Owen used the King James Version when he studied this psalm, and the KJV had the word “bulwarks” for “ramparts” in verse 13. It said, “Mark ye well her bulwarks.” Owen thought that this was a very good thing for believers to do. Only he was thinking of heavenly Zion, the church, and of our security in Jesus Christ. He said that heavenly Zion has five great bulwarks.5
“The designation and constitution of Jesus Christ to be King of the church, King of Zion.” The world has seen many different kinds of rulers throughout its history. Some have been cruel and cunning, like King Richard II of England. Some have been magnanimous, like Cyrus of Persia. Some have been weak. Claudius of Rome hid behind a curtain when the Emperor’s Guard chose him to replace his predecessor. Others have been strong. But there has never been a king like King Jesus. He is utterly sovereign, wonderfully compassionate, all-wise, and extraordinarily patient—all at the same time. Moreover, he is the King of kings and Lord of lords. And his is an eternal kingdom. The Bible says, “The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).
If we belong to that Lord and are members of that kingdom, then nothing will ever diminish our security, and we can know that we will reign with him forever. That bulwark is the first great rampart of the church.
“The promises of God, which are innumerable.” A Bible teacher once promised a class of children that he would give ten dollars to anyone who could think of a promise that God had not given to his people. He said later that he might as well have offered a million dollars, for God has promised to meet all our needs and to give us all good things, whatever those needs may be. Mark well those promises. Consider well those blessings. Impress them on your mind so you may live by them and pass them to the next generation.
“The watchful providence of God over the church.” If you and I care for something very much, we keep a watchful eye on it. But we do not always successfully protect the thing we love. We may look away at just the wrong moment, allowing a child to run out into the street and be hit by a car, for instance. Or, even if we are watching, we are not always able to prevent the disaster.
God is not subject to our limitations. His watchful eye is everywhere, seeing all things. We speak of this when we say that he is omnipresent and omniscient. He is also all powerful, so he is able to care for, protect, defend and preserve us perfectly. We get a sense of how carefully God cares for his church from Jesus’ prayer for it just before his crucifixion. He prayed, “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:11).
What are the first three bulwarks John Owen lists? Provide a Scripture reference for each one.
How would you describe the kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ over his church?
What promises has God given to the church?
Reflection: In what ways do you observe God’s watchful providence over the church?
5The points are cited by Charles Haddon Spurgeon in C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 1b, Psalms 27-57 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968), p. 366.