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Psalms 48:1-3

Context
Psalm 48 1 

A song, a psalm by the Korahites.

48:1 The Lord is great and certainly worthy of praise

in the city of our God, 2  his holy hill.

48:2 It is lofty and pleasing to look at, 3 

a source of joy to the whole earth. 4 

Mount Zion resembles the peaks of Zaphon; 5 

it is the city of the great king.

48:3 God is in its fortresses;

he reveals himself as its defender. 6 

1 sn Psalm 48. This so-called “Song of Zion” celebrates the greatness and glory of the Lord’s dwelling place, Jerusalem. His presence in the city elevates it above all others and assures its security.

2 sn The city of our God is Jerusalem, which is also referred to here as “his holy hill,” that is, Zion (see v. 2, as well as Isa 66:20; Joel 2:1; 3:17; Zech 8:3; Pss 2:6; 15:1; 43:3; 87:1; Dan 9:16).

3 tn Heb “beautiful of height.” The Hebrew term נוֹף (nof, “height”) is a genitive of specification after the qualitative noun “beautiful.” The idea seems to be that Mount Zion, because of its lofty appearance, is pleasing to the sight.

4 sn A source of joy to the whole earth. The language is hyperbolic. Zion, as the dwelling place of the universal king, is pictured as the world’s capital. The prophets anticipated this idealized picture becoming a reality in the eschaton (see Isa 2:1-4).

5 tn Heb “Mount Zion, the peaks of Zaphon.” Like all the preceding phrases in v. 2, both phrases are appositional to “city of our God, his holy hill” in v. 1, suggesting an identification in the poet’s mind between Mount Zion and Zaphon. “Zaphon” usually refers to the “north” in a general sense (see Pss 89:12; 107:3), but here, where it is collocated with “peaks,” it refers specifically to Mount Zaphon, located in the vicinity of ancient Ugarit and viewed as the mountain where the gods assembled (see Isa 14:13). By alluding to West Semitic mythology in this way, the psalm affirms that Mount Zion is the real divine mountain, for it is here that the Lord God of Israel lives and rules over the nations. See P. Craigie, Psalms 1-50 (WBC), 353, and T. N. D. Mettinger, In Search of God, 103.

6 tn Heb “he is known for an elevated place.”



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