Psalms 45 – 48 all speak, in different ways, of the greatness of God. In Psalm 48, the greatness is applied to the city of God, Zion, Jerusalem.
George Knight, who served as a professor of Old Testament at the University of Chicago as well as University of St. Andrews in Scotland remarks “The nations round about Jerusalem all believed in the existence of a mighty mountain [Zaphon – mt] that lay away far off in the north. It was a divine mountain; it was so lofty that it passed through the clouds right into the heavens, right up to the divinities who dwelt above it there in the bright blue sky.”
For the writer of Psalm 48, Jerusalem is that mountain. It is the place of God’s dwelling, a magnificent city that causes would-be conquerors to flee in terror.
Jerusalem, however, is but on a hill, only 2400 or so feet high. In a list of the world’s highest mountains, Mount Zion wouldn’t even rank. Even the Mount of Olives to the east is higher. And so, when the Psalmist tells his reader to take a walkabout and be amazed at the city, her towers, ramparts and citadels, they all may very well be impressive to him, but we can be sure they were not the most impressive in the world.
What sets Jerusalem above all others and makes her so glorious is that God dwells there; and that gives a new perspective to everything. Using worldly eyes, Jerusalem is but a “town” (Robert Alter calls it that in his translation), but through God’s eyes, there is no greater city.
Is God deceived?
No. The greatness of anything is determined by its relationship to God. May God help us to see ourselves the way He sees us, His dwelling place now, as He saw Zion then.