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.
“I know that my redeemer lives.
Then at the last he will stand upon the earth.
After my skin has been thus destroyed,
Then in my flesh I shall see God.
I shall see him on my side.
My eyes shall behold.
Not another shall behold.
My heart faints within me!”
This passage has a different translation in the Greek, Syriac, and Latin. It is often referred to as a precursor of Jesus the redeemer, or the Messianic savior who came to earth. Redeemer could also mean defender or vindicator. The Hebrew word of ‘goel’ or redeemer means a member of the family who avenged your honor, despite debts. Job believed that someone would help him. Whether this is God or not is not clear. However, even more controversial is the idea that his flesh will see God after his skin has been destroyed. Is this a hint at a resurrection, since throughout this work he talked about Sheol as a dead end place? His eyes will see even though he was faint.
“Having said this, he went away. Then the priests stretched out their hands toward heaven. They called upon the constant defender of our nation, in these words.
‘O Lord of all,
Although you have need of nothing,
You were pleased
That there should be a temple for thy habitation among us.
O holy One,
Lord of all holiness,
Keep undefiled forever this house that has been so recently purified.’”
When Nicanor left the Temple, the priests stretched out their hands to heaven and began to pray. They prayed to the defender of their nation. They realized that God, the Lord of all, did not need anything. However, he had been pleased by this Temple so that he could live among them. Now they were asking him, the holy one, the Lord of all holiness, to keep this Temple or house of the Lord undefiled since it had been so recently purified.
“The thrice-accursed Nicanor had brought one thousand merchants to buy the Jews. He was now humbled with the help of the Lord by opponents whom he regarded as of the least account. He took off his splendid uniform. He made his way alone like a runaway slave across the country until he reached Antioch. He had succeeded chiefly in the destruction of his own army! Thus he who had undertaken to secure tribute for the Romans by the capture of the people of Jerusalem proclaimed that the Jews had a Defender. Therefore the Jews were invulnerable, because they followed the laws ordained by him.”
Nicanor comes in for a heavy dismissal since he was cursed 3 times. He was the one who brought 1,000 merchants to buy the Jews for slavery. He was humbled by his opponents with the help of the Lord. However, he took off his wonderful uniform, and fled across the countryside like a runaway slave until he reached Antioch. His only success was that he had destroyed his own army. He now claimed that the Jews were invulnerable as long as they followed the laws of their almighty defender. Nicanor will appear again later in this book.