Security. One of our greatest desires. Most people would agree it is a need for an emotionally healthy life. It is very difficult to thrive when we feel insecure. So how can I find the security I need? People seek security in money or power or knowledge. Others give up and find escape from their insecurities in entertainment or addictions. Some try to keep themselves walled off from everyone in hopes that if no one knows them, then no one can hurt them. Psalm 48 gives us the answer to our need for security.
The central phrase in Psalm 48 summarizes the poem.
As we have heard, so we have seen
in the city of the Lord Almighty, in the city of our God:
God makes her secure forever. Psalm 48:8
This central phrase is highlighted by being preceded by and followed by a prayer. Notice that verse 7 is addressed to God and verses 9-11 are addressed to God, but verse 8, alone in this section, returns to talking about God. This technique in addition to the selah makes this verse stand out as unique.
An interesting hidden feature of this psalm is the use of the number 48. In Hebrew, the number 48 is the numerical value of the word "Zion." The first and last sections of the psalm, in Hebrew, are 24 words in length, adding up to 48 words, and the psalm is the 48th psalm in the book. Although this could be coincidence, it does seem that the author of the psalm and the editor of the book of psalms has intentionally highlighted this number to emphasize the psalms focus on Zion, the city of God.
Zion, the City of God
The psalm begins by praising God because He is in the citadels of Zion. The city is great, but its real strength is not in its size or the thickness of its walls. Its real fortress is God Himself.
God is in her citadels;
he has shown himself to be her fortress. Psalm 48:3
What am I trusting in to make me secure? It would be easy for the psalmist to point to the walls of the city and declare that they will keep him safe. But, instead, he points to God and says that it is truly God that is the fortress of Zion. Am I making God my fortress or have I tried to protect myself through other means?
God Makes Her Secure
The Kings Flee in Terror
In verses 4-7 the psalmist paints a picture of kings joining forces to destroy Zion. But once they see the city they loose all hope and are quickly destroyed.
they saw her and were astounded;
they fled in terror. Psalm 48:5
God's presence in the city protects them even before the enemy attacks.
God Makes Her Secure
Just in case you may be thinking it was the city walls that caused the kings to flee, it is here that we find the meaningful center of the psalm: "God makes her secure forever." Yes, the walls are imposing, but its real strength, its real security is found in God.
But maybe, if you know your Bible history, you are wondering, "If God makes her secure forever, then how did Jerusalem fall to Babylon?" I think the key is to remember it is God's presence that makes her secure. But Ezekiel, in Ezekiel 10, describes the glory of God leaving the temple. Jerusalem was no longer secure because God's presence was no longer there. It was God who made them secure forever and once He removed His protection they were no longer secure. They had rejected God and so He had removed His protective presence.
Meditate on God
Because it is God that makes us secure the next section calls us to meditate on our great God.
- His love is unfailing
- His praise extends through the whole earth
- He is righteous
- He is just
As we focus on God, our insecurities diminish in the light of His greatness and love.
This God is Our God
The psalm closes by reminding us that it is this great God that protects Zion.
For this God is our God for ever and ever;
he will be our guide even to the end. Psalm 48:14
Are you feeling insecure? There is truly only one answer: trust in God. Only God can make you secure.