By Henry Law
The beauty of Jerusalem is a picture of the beauty of the Church. God's favor to it foreshadows His favor to His people in all ages.
1, 2, 3. "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. God is known in her palaces for a refuge."
Great indeed is the Lord. In His power, His love, His dealings, His every attribute, His greatness is unspeakable. In every faculty of mind and body, at every period of our time, His praise should be our glad employ. As Jerusalem stands preeminent above all the abodes of earth in charms of climate and loveliness of local beauty--as admiration proclaims Mount Zion to be the joy of the whole earth, so God's people surpass in every excellency.
The Spirit, in a preceding hymn, had depicted the Church as all-glorious within, and as arrayed in clothing of wrought gold. Her inward beauty is the grace so plentifully bestowed by His hand. Her outward glory is the robe of righteousness with which she is invested by her Lord. Zion's royal residents dwelt in security. If any foe frightened them, they fled to the Lord as a sure refuge, and were in safety.
4, 5, 6. "For, lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together. They saw it, and so they marveled; they were troubled, and hurried away. Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail."
Jerusalem was often threatened by mighty potentates, and with all their power; but vain were their assembled troops. They were compelled in shame and distress to seek security in flight.
Thus, also, the legions of darkness have encamped around God's people. The arch-enemy, their malicious leader, has urged them forward. But the city of the righteous has been impregnable. Inglorious flight has dispersed all foes, and victory has signalized the Church.
7. "You break the ships of Tarshish with an east wind."
Another image here depicts the utter ruin of the Church's foes. How weak are ships to withstand the fury of the raging wind! It raises huge billows to overwhelm them. It dashes them resistless against the iron rocks. Thus weak are all adversaries against the might of God.
8. "As 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 forever."
Many are the promises and predictions that God will uphold His people. Many realizations are before us to confirm our faith. We have every assurance that no destruction shall extinguish the true Church.
9, 10. "We have thought of Your lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of Your temple. According to Your name, O God, so is Your praise to the ends of the earth; Your right hand is full of righteousness."
Troubles should not detain from public ordinances. In the holy services we should be taught that our God is love. Not only are all His dealings full of lovingkindness, they are altogether righteous. To God's people His love is righteous, and His righteousness is love. Therefore no fear should harass or disturb.
11, 12, 13, 14. "Let Mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad because of Your judgments. Walk about Zion, and go round about her; count the towers. Mark well her bulwarks, consider her palaces, that you may tell it to the generation following. For this God is our God forever and ever; He will be our guide, even unto death."
God's people have indeed cause for constant joy. On every occasion He appears on their behalf. It is wisdom fully to contemplate the Church. Behold her type, the city upon Zion's hill. Her fortifications render her impregnable. As her walls and towers protect her, so God defends His people with all His attributes and all His might. Let us realize, also, that we have covenant property in God. He is our own God, and never will cease to be so. While life lasts, He will lead in the way everlasting, and then receive us to be with Him forever.