The Lord is great and greatly to be praised
in the city of our God.
His holy mountain, rising splendidly,
is the joy of the whole earth.
Mount Zion – the summit Zaphon –
is the city of the great King.
God is known as a stronghold within it’s citadels
Go around Zion, encircle it;
Count its towers, note its ramparts, tour its citadels,
So that you can tell a future generation:
”This God, our God forever and ever –
He will always lead us.”
In 2008, here in the Midwest we had some crazy flooding going on. Maybe you remember that year, when Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and many cities along the Mississippi River were under water to one degree or another, and it became national news.
One afternoon that summer, I was playing golf in Coralville, when my buddies and I saw a couple military helicopters flying up and down the Iowa and Cedar Rivers to look at the flooding. One of my friends said, “Hey, I think that’s President Bush! I heard he was coming to Iowa!” About 15 minutes later, sure enough, Marine One flew directly over the hole we were playing.
Many years earlier I got to visit Washington DC with my eighth-grade class, and I felt the same way as we stood outside the fence around the White House. We kept watching and watching, all of us hoping for a glimpse of the most powerful person in the country. Then our hearts sank when they told us that the President wasn’t home. It was a totally different feeling on the golf course 15 years later when we knew he was in that chopper, because there’s something special about being in the presence of the most powerful person in the country that stirs up awe and respect and honor in you.
THE KING IS HERE
In Psalm 48, David gives us this great picture of a stronghold on a hill, where the great King of all the world has made his home. He’s describing this walled, protected, and secure city where God lives, called Mount Zion. And when God is on his throne, when people get a glimpse of the King, the world rejoices! And it’s not just because they are seeing someone powerful — it’s because He is a King who loves justice, righteousness, forgiveness, and showing grace, and there is joy and security and justice and provision and goodness when the great King is on his throne. Scripture tells us that in God’s presence, there is fullness of joy! When God is on His throne, the world is better for it!
THE KING IS KNOWN
This King isn’t distant. He’s not bogged down with things so big and so lofty that he doesn’t have time for His people. No, He’s known by the people in the city. They know him as a stronghold, a place of security compared to the other cities the world has to offer. They know him as great, compared to the other kings of earth, and they are confident that forever he will lead them. They know He’s not going to abandon them, or be defeated in war. When the King is on the throne, they rest secure.
THE KING IS OUR KING
Like visiting Washington DC, this King of Creation invites us to visit and tour His dwelling place, except it’s not for a day trip or an hour tour — We are invited to go around Zion, encircle it, make a couple laps, inspect it, count up the towers and ramparts, take a tour of the citadels; Spend time in the city. Learn how the King moves and works and protects. Learn how He provides and nurtures and cares for His people. And there’s a design to this whole invitation: Get to know the place so well that you can look at future generations and tell them all about Him! Spread the word about how good the King is!
THIS IS OUR GOD!
All of creation is witness to the majesty and beauty of our King! We’re invited to walk around it, taking in the trees, the birds, the animals, the flowers, the fragrances, the sounds, the good food, the structure of family, the arts, story-telling, the order of everything around us, and listen to all of it tell us about who God is. Mountains tell of His unwavering and immovable righteousness. The ocean waves, so consistent and predictable, tell of his faithfulness. The height and all-encompassing nature of the air around us, the sky, tell of his inescapable love and presence. Trees that provide shade for rest, food for nourishment, homes for creatures, tell of his provision and protection. Marriage tells of a God who has unconditional covenant love for His bride, the Church. And most of all, His word reveals to us who we are, who He is, and what he expects of us.
LISTEN AS YOU LOOK
Instead of looking down at your phone today, take a moment to look up. Stand still. Notice something about creation you’ve never noticed before, or so familiar that you’ve learned to ignore it, and let it point you to the King who forever and ever will lead us. Instead of walking or running with headphones in, just pull them out for 5 minutes and listen to the birds, who don’t have refrigerators or kitchen pantries to store up food for themselves, sing of a God who keeps them well fed and protects them during long, cold winters. Look at the flowers, who don’t spin clothes for themselves, and hear them tell of a God who has made them more beautiful than any designer fashion on earth.
As you are reminded of how God cares for the birds and the flowers, let it draw you to His Son, who was nailed to a tree for the sins of the world, and was raised to life, so that we too, like flowers bursting out of the ground in Spring, would be called from death to life by this great King of love!
“This God, our God forever and ever – He will always lead us.“