Our reading today begins with Psalm 48. It begins with praise to God, Who is in the “city of our God,” His holy mountain, Mount Zion, the far north, and in the city of the great King (48:1-2). These are all references to the dwelling place of God, which was in Jerusalem, but which is ultimately His church – the place of His presence and the place where heaven (cosmic north) meets earth on Mount Zion.
The description of the kings of the world coming together and being in terror of the presence of God and His shattering them (vv. 4-7) will ultimately be fulfilled at Christ’s Second Coming. Shattering the ships of Tarshish (v. 7) represents destruction to the ends of the earth (like His salvation will be – see v. 10). The city of God that will be established forever is His presence in the New Heaven and the New Earth.
Then the Psalmist turns his focus to our final salvation. God’s hesed love is in the midst of the spiritual Temple – His presence is in the midst of His people. His praise is for the whole earth because His salvation will cover the whole earth (v. 10). In this His people rejoice (v. 11). Because until our final salvation, God is our protector (vv. 12-13) and will guide our steps into eternity (v. 14).
Psalm 81 is a corporate song of praise to be used at the monthly festivals (81:1-3). The song remembers what God has done for His people. He judged Egypt (v. 5) to save Israel from their bondage (v. 6). He tested them (and provided for them) at Meribah (v, 7 – see Ex 17:7). But God also remembers what His people did, and admonishes them (v. 8) for their failure to keep themselves from false gods (v. 9) and accept provision from God alone (v. 10). He warned them what would happen, but they did not listen (v. 11). So He let them go their own way (v. 12).
God then laments that Israel has been unfaithful and disobedient (v. 13). Had they obeyed, they would have conquered rather than being conquered (v. 14). Those nations who were against God would cringe before him and face eternal judgment (v. 15), but God’s people would be provided for by the hand of God (v. 16). This is what did not happen. God is telling them that they chose to become like the nations around them instead of being His people.
Psalm 129 is a Song of Ascents. It speaks of God’s salvation of His people. They have been greatly afflicted (129:1, 3) but have not been overcome (v. 2), because God has saved them (v. 4). The Psalmist prays that all who make themselves enemies of God’s people would be defeated by God (v. 5). He prays they would be like withering grass (v. 6) which is good for nothing (v. 7). Indeed, those who are enemies of God’s people will not be blessed by YHWH (v. 8).