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48. Psalm 48

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.

2Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.

3God is known in her palaces for a refuge.

4For, lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together.

5They saw it, and so they marvelled; they were troubled, and hasted away.

6Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail.

7Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east wind.

8As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever. Selah.

9We have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple.

10According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth: thy right hand is full of righteousness.

11Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments.

12Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof.

13Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following.

14For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.

7. By the east wind 194194     The east wind in Judea and in the Mediterranean is very tempestuous and destructive. It is also very dry and parching, as well as sudden and terrible in its action. Genesis 41:6; Exodus 14:21; Ezekiel 19:12; and 27:26; Job 27:21; Isaiah 27:8; Jeremiah 18:17; Jonah 4:8. Hence the LXX. translate the original words, “Εν πνευματι βιαίω,” “With a violent wind;” and the Chaldee reads, “A strong east wind as a fire from before the Lord.” “Such a wind,” says Bishop Mant, “is well known to the modern mariner by the name of Levanter, and is of the same kind as that spoken of in the twenty-seventh chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, under the name of Euroclydon.” thou breakest in pieces the ships of Tarshish Commentators are divided in their view of this passage. 195195     It is supposed by some that there is in it an implied similitude; the particle of similitude used in the preceding verse being understood. Thus French and Skinner translate the 6th and 7th verses — “Then did trembling seize upon them — Pangs as of a woman in travail — As when with a stormy wind, Thou breakest in pieces the ships of Tarshish.” According to this translation, “the ships of Tarshish” do not refer to an invading army, nor “the breaking in pieces of them” to an actual storm which had this effect; but the sacred writer employs another figure, the more vividly to describe the terror which seized upon these confederate powers. He had in the preceding verse compared it with the pangs of a woman in travail; and here he compares it to the trembling which seized upon mariners when the fury of the east wind, which shattered in pieces the largest and strongest vessels, as the ships of Tarshish probably then were, was let loose upon them. But let us rest contented with the natural sense, which is simply this, that the enemies of the Church were overthrown and plunged into destruction, just as God by suddenly raising storms sinks the ships of Cilicia to the bottom of the sea. The Psalmist celebrates the power which God is accustomed to display in great and violent storms; and his language implies that it is not to be wondered at if God, who breaks by the violence of the winds the strongest ships, had also overthrown his enemies, who were inflated with the presumptuous confidence which they reposed in their own strength. By the sea of Tarshish the Hebrews mean the Mediterranean Sea, because of the country of Cilicia, which in ancient times was called Tarshish, as Josephus informs us, although in process of time this name came to be restricted to one city of the country. But as the chief part of the naval traffic of the Jews was with Cilicia, there is here attributed to that country by synecdoche what was common to other countries which were at a greater distance and less known.


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