Psalm 48 – Oh Great, It’s Time to Praise God

Bible opened to Psalm 48 with Endangered Species dark chocolate with cacao nibs on white plate

Today’s passage: Psalm 48

Today’s chocolateEndangered Species dark chocolate with cacao nibs

As I read these psalms by the sons of Korah, I find myself wondering about the process of their composition. What sort of music accompanied the psalms, what did they sound like? How did the sons of Korah collaborate to bring their disparate ideas together into a single musical piece? The nationalistic love for Israel and the King in their songs: was it sincere? To what extent was it that when the king wants a song commemorating his marriage, you write him a dang song commemorating his marriage?

Honestly, they seem pretty sincere to me, as far as one can judge from words on a page–at least as sincere as any given “God Bless America” bumper sticker. Psalm 48’s signature move is to associate Israel’s material prosperity with God’s protection and guidance. Jerusalem, the Jewish nation’s original “city on a hill,” is the crown jewel of the kingdom:

Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth,
Is Mount Zion in the far north,
The city of the great King.
God, in her palaces,
Has made Himself known as a stronghold. (2-3)

Here you’ve got the beauty of the mountain, the defensible position of the higher ground, the riches of the king’s palaces, and it’s all viewed as a gift from God. The people sing, “We have thought on Your lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of Your temple” (9). And we may not be in Solomon’s temple–in fact, it is technically no longer possible to be in Solomon’s temple–but let’s think on God’s lovingkindness to close this post out.

It’s hard for me to admit sometimes, but yeah, I do think God is great. I agree with the psalm’s opening call to worship: “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised” (1). And I disagree with Christopher Hitchens when he asserts that God Is Not Great and religion poisons everything. Or at least that’s where I’m at today. Tomorrow I may well think that God is not so great, but if God is in fact great after all, then I am going to run up against the reality of his greatness at some point. And it will knock me on my back; it will disorient me. But that’s just part of the process of reorientation by which we discover that God is greater than we thought he could be.

Question of the Day: Is God great?

 

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