Psalm 48: The City of God
March 1, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Today it is not uncommon to think that the institution of the church is unappealing. People may be in favor of Jesus, but they are less enamored by Jesus’ church. But in the Bible the connection between God and the corporate identity of God’s people—the city of Jerusalem, the temple, the church—is always close. But why?
Have you ever felt disappointed by church or unable to connect to church? This psalm will help. It starts with a strong affirmation of God’s greatness: “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised.” But this affirmation is immediately associated with the corporate identity of God’s people. Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised “in the city of our God.” The praise and greatness of God is seen nowhere more truly than in the love that he has for his people, as expressed in the Old Testament in the city of God in Jerusalem, and in God’s New Testament church, the city of God. It is “holy”; it is “beautiful”; it is “the joy of all the earth.”
There were indubitably many problems in Jerusalem even then (as there are problems in all churches today). But the psalmist knows and believes and sees that the city of God is beautiful and the joy of all the earth. Why? Because of the protection that God has for this city: “you shattered the ships of Tarshish.” This is the “city of our God, which God will establish forever.” And therefore, the psalmist says, “We have thought on your steadfast love, O God.”
The protection of God for his city reveals God’s love for his people. Similarly, today the blood that Christ shed for his people saves his people, and his protection and shepherding of the church reveals his love. What is more, this association with God’s people to “tell the next generation that this is God” provides us with an opportunity to pass on the word of God to the next generation. Church—the corporate identity of God’s people—therefore shows God’s power by showing his loving saving of God’s people. And in the church we are able to train up the next generation that God is God. The city of God honors God. As Augustine put it, “The earthly city glories in itself, the Heavenly City glories in the Lord.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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