A Beautiful, Secure City
(H) A song, a psalm of the sons of Korah. (1) Great (is) Yahweh and to be praised exceedingly in the city of our God, his holy mountain! (2) Beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth, (is) Mount Zion, the heights of Zaphon, the city of the great king. (3) God, within her citadels, is known as a secure fortress, (4) for behold, kings joined forces and advanced together. (5) When they saw it, they were astounded. They were terrified and fled. (6) Trembling seized them there, anguish as of a woman in labor. (7) By the east wind you shattered the ships of Tarshish.
Two groups of terms provide us with an outline of this segment. In the opening two verses, we find several designations for Zion where Yahweh chose to take up residence: “city of our God...his holy mountain” (vs. 1) and “Mount Zion...the heights of Zaphon...the city of the great king” (vs. 2). In this lovely setting Yahweh established “a secure fortress,” a place of safety where his chosen nation could worship without fear (vs. 3).
In the remainder of the passage, we encounter several terms describing the reaction of Yahweh’s enemies when they gathered to attack the nation. When they saw Zion, they “were astounded...were terrified and fled” (vs. 5). In addition, they were seized with “trembling and anguish as of a woman in labor” (vs. 6).
I. Yahweh’s glory on display in Zion (1-3)
II. Yahweh’s enemies terrified and scattered (4-7)
If Yahweh is with us, no one can stand against us.
While talking with Yahweh on Mount Sinai, Moses made the following statement: “If your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here” (Ex. 33:15). God had been threatening to send an angel to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land instead of going with them personally because of their idolatrous worship of the golden calf which Aaron had fashioned. Moses interceded for the people and finally extracted from God a commitment to accompany them personally. He knew that God’s presence meant security, protection, and success in reaching their goal.
God’s glorious presence in the temple in Zion, the city of God, guaranteed the nation security and protection from her enemies on every side. God dwelling with us likewise guarantees our security and protection. Jesus told his disciples when he sent them out into the world, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Mt. 28:20). When he was about to ascend to the Father, he promised to send the Holy Spirit to indwell and empower them. The author of Hebrews wrote, “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me’” (Heb. 13:5 & 6)? We can have this same confidence at all times as we rely on God’s promise that his presence will dwell with us always.