A song, a psalm of the Korahites
“Great is Yahweh!
Greatly to be praised
In the city of our God!
His holy mountain,
Beautiful in elevation,
Is the joy of all the earth.
Mount Zion is
In the far north,
In the city of the great king.
Within its citadels
God has shown himself
A sure defense.”
Psalm 48 is yet another of the 11 psalms of the sons of the Korah, like the preceding ones. There is a glorification of Mount Zion, the northern mountain in Jerusalem, where the Temple and the palace of David were built. Yahweh was great and thus greatly praised. His holy beautiful mountain was a joy to the whole world. This Mount Zion was in the far northern part of the city of the great king, the city of David. Within its walls, God had shown himself to be a great defender of this mountain.
“God is king of all the earth.
Sing praises with a psalm!
God is the king over the nations.
God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of the peoples gather
As the people of the God of Abraham.
The shields of the earth
Belong to God.
He is highly exalted!”
This short psalm comes to an end where it began, proclaiming that God is king of the world, not just Israel, as in the first verses. He is the king of everyone. He sits on his throne. The princes of the world gather together with the people of the God of Abraham. All the protections or shields of the world belong to God. This might be a reference to the shields of the various rulers with their gang sign symbols. Once again we end with the idea that God is highly exalted in this psalm of worship.
“God has gone up with a shout.
Yahweh has gone up
With the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God!
Sing praises to our King!
In case you missed the point, “sing praises to God.” This refrain is repeated 4 times. There must be noise. There were shouts and at least a trumpet. They were to sing praises to God, the King, Yahweh. This psalm may have been used in the transport of the Ark of the Covenant.
To the choirmaster leader, a psalm of the Korahites
“Clap your hands!
All you peoples!
Shout to God!
Shout with loud songs of joy!
The Most High is awesome!
He is a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us.
He subdued nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us.
We are the pride of Jacob.
He loves us.”
Psalm 47 is another in the string of Korahite choral songs that proclaims Yahweh as king. They were to clap their hands and shout for joy because Yahweh was awesome. He was and is the king of the earth. He has subdued peoples and nations under the pride of Jacob, the Israelites. Yahweh has chosen Jacob and his descendants as his heritage because he loves them. This section ends with the musical interlude pause of the Selah.
Behold the works of Yahweh!
See what desolations
He has brought on the earth!
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth.
He breaks the bow.
He shatters the spear.
He burns the shields with fire.
Know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations!
I am exalted in the earth!’
Yahweh of hosts is with us.
The God of Jacob is our refuge.”
The psalmist wants you to come and see the work of Yahweh. He has brought a peaceful desolation to earth. Wars have ceased. All the bows and spears have been broken. The shields have been burned. Everyone should know that Yahweh is truly God since he is exalted among the nations and on earth. Then this psalm ends with the refrain of Yahweh, the God of Jacob, as his refuge. Like in the preceding section, there is the Selah, the musical interlude pause.
“There is a river whose streams
Make glad the city of God.
This is the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city.
It shall not be moved.
God will help it
When the morning dawns.
The nations are in an uproar.
The kingdoms totter.
He utters his voice.
The earth melts.
Yahweh of hosts is with us.
The God of Jacob is our refuge.”
The symbolic river around the holy city of Jerusalem called streams only leads to the enchantment of this city of God. Those who live there are holy because God is in the midst of them. The city will not be moved since God is with them from early morning on. Even when the nations are in an uproar, or kingdoms are falling, God’s voice would be there to melt the earth. This section ends with the refrain of Yahweh, the God of Jacob, as his refuge. Perhaps this should have been in the first section also, before the Selah, musical interlude pause, as it is here.
To the choirmaster leader, a psalm of the Korahites, according to Alamoth, a song
“God is our refuge.
God is our strength.
He is a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear!
Even though the earth should change.
Even though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea.
Even though its waters roar and foam.
Even though the mountains tremble with its tumult.”
Psalm 46 is another of the psalms or songs of the sons of Korah. However, this is a victory song that inspired Martin Luther to write his famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress.” In fact, it is a hymn of Mount Zion that was to be sung by an Alamoth, who was a soprano or female voice. God was their refuge and strength. He was present during any time of trouble. Therefore they would not fear. Even though great changes on the earth were taking place, they would not be afraid. There was a mention of the underwater earthquakes, tsunamis, or above ground earthquakes, when God would be there. At this thought there is a musical interlude or pause, a Selah.
Is decked in her chamber
With gold-woven robes.
In many-colored robes
She is led to the king.
Behind her are
Her companions follow.
With joy and gladness,
They are led along.
They enter the palace of the king.
In the place of ancestors,
You shall have sons.
You will make them princes on all the earth.
I will cause your name
To be celebrated in all generations.
Therefore the peoples
Will praise you forever and ever.”
Here comes the bride! She is the center of any wedding. This psalm ends with the happy ending for both the bride and groom with the hope that they live happily ever after. Instead of the romantic ending, the king is told by this scribe psalmist that he will have sons instead of ancestors to worry about. These sons would become princes all over the place. The king’s name would be celebrated for generations to come, even forever. Forever is the like the marriage forever, since it appears to be a wish rather than a reality.
Incline your ear!
Forget your people!
Forget your father’s house!
The king will desire your beauty.
Since he is your lord,
Bow to him.
The people of Tyre will sue your favor with gifts.
The richest of the people,
With all kinds of wealth,
Will come to you.”
This psalmist scribe asks that the daughter listen carefully and consider her words. She was to forget her people and her father’s house. She was to go forward to the king, her new lord. She was to bow to him. She would become powerful and rich with this marriage. These are like the words of encouragement to a reluctant bride before a marriage. Clearly she is to be subject to her new husband, the king. The consequences of this marriage will be enormous power and wealth. There is an interesting note about the new queen coming from Tyre. She may have been a Phoenician or a Philistine, the mortal enemy of David.
Endures forever and ever.
Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity.
You love righteousness.
You hate wickedness.
Has anointed you
With the oil of gladness.
Thus you are beyond your companions.
Your robes are all fragrant
With myrrh, aloes, and cassia.
From ivory palaces
Stringed instruments make you glad.
Daughters of kings are
Among your ladies of honor.
At your right hand
Stands the queen in gold of Ophir.”
Is this throne the throne of God or the king that endures forever? Once again, the scribe psalmist treats the king like a mini-god. The royal crown helps insure equality. Then we have the famous saying about being anointed with the oil of gladness that had such a resonance with Christian prayers about anointing. This is a royal anointing of the new king. This new king was beyond his companions. His robes were fragrant or smelly. They were filled with myrrh, aloes, and cassia. Myrrh was an aromatic perfume from the Asian bushes. Aloes was a bitter tasting leaf that was used in perfumes. Cassia is an Asian evergreen tree with an aromatic bark that also was used in perfumes. Ivory and stringed instruments were also there. All this adds to the concept of wealth. Of course stringed instruments and beautiful ladies of honor were also added to the scene. Then there was queen in her gold from the mysterious unknown but often mentioned Ophir.