The City of God

All the earth! Praise the Lord for his mighty deeds! He is God and there is no other!

Psalm 48:1 Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised
in the city of our God!
His holy mountain, 2beautiful in elevation,
is the joy of all the earth,
Mount Zion, in the far north,
the city of the great King.

The city of God is an illustration pointing us to consider the place on earth where God has chosen to live – that is, the congregation of those who believe in him, in their hearts and in their praises.

It is called the joy of all the earth because it is there God is found. His glory is told in stories of the past and promises for the future. Where God is true and lasting happiness is found. This world is full of darkness and misery due to sin. Man lies awake at night, in distress and turmoil because of graceless pride, keenly aware of his helpless slide toward inevitable doom, but unable to stop himself from rushing into it, more and more obstinancy. Not so where God is found! Where God dwells there is humility, broken heartedness, and silent awe – leading to refreshment in God’s word, his promises – man’s emptiness filled with divine beauty. The joy of all the earth.

It is said to be in the far north to inspire our imaginations that we might strive to reach its gates by impossible measures, that is by faith. It is said to be in the far north so as to set our minds on its future glory just as much as we set our minds on our present present sufferings. It is said to be in the far north to fill our souls with a sense of its awesome glory which no eye has seen and no heart imagined. A reality that God has in store for us, but only partially revealed in the present age.

It is called the city of the great King! It is where Christ lives. It is where songs of quiet daily contentment and shouts of Sunday victory are heard echoing through the streets as his royal procession bends and turns through her streets, that is, as Christ is honored and his people cling to him by faith. Where he stands and addresses the helpless and anguished with words of comfort and consolation and fill their ears with blessings eternal. Where he gifts the poor and needy with the presence of His Holy Spirit from the treasure-hordes of the eternal Father’s stores. Where he governs with truth and grace in perfect balanced justice calling to the whole earth saying “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden. I will give you rest! Learn from me for I am gentle and lowly in heart! Take my burden upon you, for it is easy and light.” That is, it is the place his word is preached and his people instructed.

His banners are not cloth, but spiritual realities – his people’s trust in him. His ramparts are not stone, but spiritual realities – grace and truth. His high towers are not bronze, but spiritual realities – the presence of the invisible and only God, made known by faith, and enjoyed in the Spirit, through the work of the Son, to the ever-enduring glory of the Father!

Her mountain is white. Her gates are lofty. Her citizens are many. Her King is Christ. Her truth enjoyed only by faith.

Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised in the city of our God!

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