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Satisfying Sights from The Psalms

by Julius Hovan

HovansWelcome to this broadcast of Words of Life, a broadcast message from the very Word of God and we are so glad you have joined us. If you know somebody who would like to tune in with you, give them a call and tell them to listen in as we share wonderful words from the Bible, God’s inspired book.

I would like to turn this morning to one of the psalms. Someone has said about the psalms: Among all the books of antiquity, none has made such a powerful appeal to the human heart as the Psalms, a great variety of religious experience is recorded there and you can be blessed by reading. Various authors wrote these psalms as we call them. Some of them are called praises and you can look at the various titles of each psalm would indicate their usage, some of them to be sung with musical accompaniment. Some of them are a song, some of them an anthem. Some are a lamentation, a time of sadness in a person’s life and they wrote about it. The psalm of David belongs to David. Maybe David wrote it or it was dedicated to David or maybe it was written in the style in which he normally spoke or some other.
Solomon wrote. Asaph wrote. The sons of Korah, Ethan, Moses.  So many authors have written this beautiful collection that we call the Psalms.

The book is divided into five sections and they represent the various collected books that are brought together in the Word of God.  Some indicate and believe that these books correspond to the books of the law. And whether that be exactly true we don’t know, but man’s response to God’s summon is contained through the psalms. The hallelujah psalms are psalms of praise. The songs of ascents, when the pilgrims came into Jerusalem and they san those beautiful, beautiful hymns of praise to God, they are called songs of ascent. They would stop along the away and sing a different one at various places.

All of these form the background for the ministry of the Lord Jesus.  He learned them as a young boy going to synagogue school. They are quoted at his baptism. They are quoted in his time on the cross. And in the New Testament there are almost 100 references or allusions to this book of Psalms. My, it is a great book of devotional material about that joy of forgiveness and the sense of trust and praise and all of the marvelous things that we need to know about to be happy and successful people.

Surely it could be called the hymnbook of the ages.  No other book of hymns and prayers has been used for so long a time and by so many diverse people in our world.  Our hymnal that we use at our church contains 126 psalms taken from 50 of the different psalms. And so we may be assured that the Spirit inspired writing in these books will provide us many satisfying thoughts if we will pause to look them over, let them touch our hearts and bless us and change our lives.

So if you are where you can, take your Bible and we are going to turn to Psalm 48 for our text this morning and see what kind of blessing God has for us there.

The first verse of that psalm reads: Great is the Lord or Jehovah. Great is Jehovah and greatly to be praised in the city of our God in his holy mountain.

The first thing we learn as we come here is the greatness of God and the fact that we need to sing about that. Great is the Lord, great in the delivery of his people Israel, great at protecting and providing for their every need. Their esteem for their Jehovah God was very great and even on often times his enemies, those that were not followers of God acknowledged his greatness.

The great God of the Old Testament entered man’s world in the New Testament in the from of the man that we call Jesus Christ.  It is no surprise that the New Testament likewise describes Jesus when it says he shall be great and shall be called the son of the most high.  I bring you good tidings of great joy. For the people in darkness have seen a great light.  All of these things are found in the New Testament against the background of the Psalms and the person of Jesus as he lived on this earth hundreds of years ago.

Now great things Jesus has done. A greater than Jonah is here we are told. A greater than Solomon is here. Oh, this great God he is called, our Savior Jesus Christ and our great high priest, according to Hebrews four. And Hebrews 13 says he is the great shepherd of the sheep and he has great love wherewith he has loved us. And what else, it is going to end when he returns with power and great glory.  So great is this God of the Bible, this Jehovah God, the God of Israel as he would have been in those Old Testament Scriptures.

The good news is, my friend, for the Christian today he is our God and he has further shown his greatness in the giving of the great gift of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

What is our response as we look at these verses in the Psalms like Psalm 48? We find that the God of Israel being so great ought to be praised. It is greatly a thing to praise this great God of ours.  According to his nature, the very nature of God, demands that we acknowledge and worship him. We can’t do it too much, too earnestly, too reverentially, too big. We just must reverence this God and offer praise to him.

There are none like him anywhere. There are none to be praised like this God. Well, where is this praise to take place? Well, obviously the writer of this psalm, the sons of Korah, they would have known that would indicate a place called Jerusalem or Mount Zion and certainly the beautiful temple in that great city. And so surely he, Jesus, to us today and the God of the Old Testament is great in that city. And he is to be greatly praised there.  This was the meeting place between the people of God and the people of Israel. No matter what other nations were doing, what other cities had for their place of worship, the chosen people are to come to the favored city and there they are to offer praise and continue to adore this great God. For most all have seen his glory as he works among mankind.

Now what was true of Israel in the Old Testament has become now true for those of us in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Though all nations rage against him, many, a majority even, ignore him. They reject his power and his love.  We are not going to be guilty of that. We are going to praise this God.

Listen to the apostle Paul’s writing in Philippian chapter there, the closing two verses.  Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us, unto him be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations forever and ever.

And so the writer of Psalm 48 says our great God needs to be praised. But now we come to the New Testament and find, indeed, we are to praise him even more.

Notice the reference there to the mountain of his holiness. The temple is referred to as holy.  The priests were holy. The sacrifice was holy. It simply means they were set apart for God in a special way. Zion, as we often call the city of Jerusalem was and is a mountain. It is a high point there.  I have had the privilege of climbing to the top part of the city of Jerusalem. It was the renowned part of the city. The synagogue was there and other places of worship and even today that place is reverenced by the Jewish faith.

And so the Church, as we are now a part of the followers of God, the Church is a mountain of elevation for the greatness of God. It is in the Church. It is we who are in Christians that we are to be very conspicuous in our living for God and glorifying him. And we must adorn him with holiness as he desires us to have. Only by holy men can the Lord be fittingly praised.  And our entire lives should be occupied with the worship of our great God.

And so listen to the words again. Great is Jehovah and greatly to be praised in the city of our God and in his holy mountain. And then verse two adds: Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.

Oh, my friends, has the praise under the Old Testament law, how much greater should we in this marvelous age of grace bring glory and honor to our great God Jehovah and his Son Jesus.

That second verse relating there to the city of Jerusalem, it is a place that is naturally situated for beauty. It is referred to by some as the queen of the East. And so the Church now God’s place of fellowship, the Church is paced very near to the heart of God, within the mountains of his power, the Church operates upon the hills of God’s faithfulness that is the only way we can continue to be what we ought to be as people of God in this modern age. We want to be in the center of his providential operations. In our life, the providence and power of God are shown. And the more we are elevated above the world and the world’s system, the more beautiful and useful we are as people, we who are the church of Christ.
Notice the references there. The joy of the whole earth. And is it not true that today, even through a broadcast like this one, Words of Life, we send words of joy to the entire world that will tune in and listen. Ardent Israel considered holy themselves as holy. And they were the eye of the nations of that time and the precious pearl of all the lands.  The nation of Israel, yes, but now it is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Someone has written: The Church of our Lord is no less the true joy and hope of the world.
I don’t know where you live, what country or city, either in America or some far place from there. I don’t know where you live, but I don’t know any way to say this except to say our present world is in great turmoil. The floods of people coming out of Syria seeking asylum in the cities of Europe, trying to escape the horrors of what is going on there, the horrible moral conditions that exist in our world today and even in the country of America where I live and where I have been raised to know about Jesus and the Church. But, oh, what other answer can we find to solve the problems that exist in our society.

And so we must hold ourselves up. We must let people see our light shining. And Jerusalem was certainly such a city, situated for beauty, the joy of the whole earth.  Should not the Church be that? Should not Christians who are called upon to be the light of the world and like salt to purify the age in which we live?  Yes. That is our responsibility. And we are no less possessors of this true joy. And we can offer the hope of the world as it stands in such great need.

And so we have a great God. We are to offer great praise.  And even in that day in the great city praise to a great king. Those among whom this great one dwells are privileged above all others. They are, indeed, richly blessed and have a goodly heritage.

In visiting the city of Jerusalem as I have been privileged to do on one occasion, you can just feel the presence of the power of God there. For it is the area of the world into which Jesus was born.  It is the place where he walked, where he performed miracles, where he taught the people. And so, my friends, this is, indeed, a great part of the world.  And now the Church stands to likewise influence the world for God wherever we may exert that influence.

Let me read this psalm as we close this broadcast this morning. Listen to it in its entirety.
Great is Jehovah, and greatly to be praised, in the city of our God, in his holy mountain.  Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, Is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, The city of the great King.  God hath made himself known in her palaces as a place of refuge. For the kings assembled themselves and they went by together. And they saw it, then were they amazed and they were dismayed and they hasted away.  Trembling took hold of them there, pain, as of a woman in birth and in travail. With the east wind you broke the ship of Tarshish.  As we have heard, so have we seen.  In the city of Jehovah of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it forever.

     We have thought on thy loving kindness, O God, In the midst of thy temple as I praise they name is, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth. Thy right hand is full of righteousness.  Let mount Zion be glad. Let the daughters of Judah rejoice because of thy judgments.  Walk about Zion, and go round about her. Number the towers thereof.  Mark her bulwarks well. Consider her palaces that you may tell it in the generations following.

And the psalm closes with verse 14.  For this God is our God forever and ever: He will be our guide even unto death.

Israel did not want to change her God, though in some periods of her history she worshipped many false idols. But she did not want to change from this Jehovah God, Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament and the New. And, no, we should not either change our God. We must not give him a ... God will not change. He is faithful forever and ever. There is no other god and we need not wish for any other. We should have no other god even if other gods were possible and we know God is the only true God. Make sure that we understand that, who our God is and there is no other like him. We exalt in the hope of the eternal bliss of a forever and ever and everlastingness in the very presence of this great God. And, notice, even unto death and then the great beyond when we spend eternity with him.

Listen to the words of Mr. Spurgeon writing along this line when he says this—and I quote: Throughout life and to our dying couch, he will graciously conduct us and even after death he will lead us to the living fountains of waters. We look to him for our resurrection and for eternal life. This consolation is clearly derivable from what has gone before. Hitherto our foes have been scattered. Our bulwarks have defied attack. Our God has been in our midst. Therefore all possible assaults in the future will be equally futile.  Fare well, fear, come hither, gratitude and faith and sing right joyously, Mr. Spurgeon said.

Do you have the possibility of singing as you listen to this broadcast? Do you know the precious truth of the great God we have talked about? Have you heard of his Son Jesus and his death at Calvary for you and that if you will turn to him in a simple faith and repentance, submit to him in the watery grave of baptism? The Bible says we will be raised to walk in a new life. What a great joy it is to know that.
We thank you for joining in to our broadcast today. We hope you will come weekly and listen to the messages brought to you from the Word of God. May God bless you today as we close this broadcast regarding our wonderful and great God.


Julius Hovan is minister of the Bohon Church of Christ, Bohon, KY.

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Philippians 4:13