Psalm 48:1–2 (ESV) … “Great is the Lord and 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, in the far north, the city of the great King.”
The cry of adoration, Great is the LORD, appears to be an exclamation widely used in ancient worship (Pss 86:10; 99:2–3; 135:5). The divine names appear: God (’ĕlōhîm), eight times; LORD and great King and LORD of hosts, once each.
The psalm’s focus is on Jerusalem, for which superlative titles abound: city of our God (vv. 1, 8), his holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, city of the great King, a sure defense, the city of the LORD of hosts, your temple, and this is God (v. 14).
These lofty titles suggest theology more than geography. Mount Zion, about 2,600 feet in elevation, is compared to the far north (Mt. Zaphon, NIV), where Phoenician and Canaanite texts located the residence of the gods. The psalmist suggests that Mount Zion is to the LORD what Mt. Zaphon (present-day Mt. Casius) is to Canaanite religion, the dwelling of God and the most hallowed spot of the land. Theologically, Mount Zion is Israel’s equivalent to the highest of all the mountains of the world (Isa 2:2–3; Ezek 5:5; 38:12).
While Zion is celebrated, the psalm’s real object of praise is the LORD. The decisive reason for the invincibility of the city of God is the fact that the LORD dwells there (v. 3; Ps 46:5). The LORD is the great saving king and defender.
As American’s we just celebrated our nation’s birth on July 4th. We celebrate the blessings of God upon our nation and its people. We sing of our nation’s greatness and uniqueness; however, any real praise must go to God and God alone! He is the source and giver of all blessings in life. Take time this morning to thank God for blessing our nation and our lives, for “great is our Lord and greatly to be praised.”