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Radiant City, Glorious God

The City of our God. Psalm 48

Psalm 48

Opening Prayer: Psalm 48.1-3
Great is the LORD, 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 is in her palaces;
He is known as her refuge.

Sing Psalm 48.1-3
(Cwm Rhonda: Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah)
Great is God, now greatly praise Him in the city of the Lord.
Holy she, His lovely mountain, great and glorious by His Word!
God her King is great within her, He, her Stronghold ever sure!
He, her Stronghold ever sure!

Read Psalm 48
; meditate on Psalm 48.9-11

1. What are the primary characteristics of the city of God?

2. What are the characteristics of those who inhabit this radiant city of God?

Light is a very powerful metaphor for thinking about God and His people. Jesus declared Himself the light of the world (Jn. 8.12), echoing John’s declaration that in Him is the light of life (Jn. 1.4, 5). In Jesus, the light of life, truth, love, understanding, and power over all darkness came to earth. And when He returned to His heavenly throne, He left His light in the Church, the city of the living God.

Psalm 48 works like a prism to separate the eternal and holy light of God into its polychromatic splendor. As God shines His light in and through His city, it becomes recognizable as holiness, praise, beauty, joy, witness, gladness, boldness, and the radiance of every virtue. The light of God shines forth from His city, making the Church the light of the world (Matt. 5.13-16) and empowering believers to roll back the darkness of wickedness and unbelief by their mission of worship, works, and witness (1 Jn. 2.8; Acts 1.8; Eph. 2.8-10). The praise of God reaches to the ends of the earth (Ps. 48.9), generation after generation (v. 13), as believers and their churches contemplate their glorious God and King (v. 9) and radiate light through Jesus Christ.

The unbelieving nations may tremble and flee (vv. 4-6). They may even counsel rebellion or violence (Ps. 2). But they cannot prevail to stop the increase of the light when the followers of Christ, recognizing our calling and banding together as palaces of the Lord (vv. 3, 13), shine the light of Jesus into the darkness of our unbelieving age.

The world is dark because of unbelief. But we can overcome that darkness by basking in the light of Jesus and letting His light shine through us, in all its varied and wondrous colors.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162

The unbelieving nations “cannot prevail to stop the increase of the light when the followers of Christ…shine the light of Jesus into the darkness of our unbelieving age.”

But what if we do not?

The apostle Paul answers this question succinctly: “For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced” (2 Cor. 12.20, 21). He wrote this to the church in Corinth. But sadly, it could still be written to many churches today.

A Christmas Disaster takes place each year as we leave the Baby in the manger, and do not follow Him as King of kings and Lord of lords! We smile to see Him sleeping in heavenly peace, but we ignore the fact that He came to make the blessings of the light shine as far as the curse is found – through us!

And because we tolerate this situation year after year, there is no fear of God before our eyes (Rom. 3.18). And because there is no fear, there is very little obedience.

Jesus wants to know whether we truly know Him as “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16.16). For if we know and love Him as such, we will keep His commandments and all His judgments. (Jn. 14.15) These are the demands of a King, not a baby: “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him” (Ps. 2.12).

“The world is dark because of unbelief.” So let us make sure that we believe, and that we serve our Lord who is greatly to be praised. Let us follow His commands and fear Him so that our “light will shine before men, that they may see [our] good works and glorify [our] Father in heaven” (Matt. 5.16).

Let’s not let another Christmas Disaster happen again this year. Let us rejoice that He came as a baby, and embrace Him as the King of a Radiant City and our Glorious God! Believing that makes all the difference.

1. Why do you think so little of the many-colored light of God shines throughout our world today?

2. What can you do to turn a Christmas Disaster into Kingdom Advance?

3. How can believers encourage one another to be more consistently obedient to our King and Lord?

whatever dignity or excellence shines forth in the Church, we are not to consider it otherwise than as the means of presenting God to our view, that we may magnify and praise him in his gifts. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on the Psalm 48.14

Closing Prayer: Psalm 48.12-14

Praise and thank the Lord that He is building His Church, and not even the counsels and stratagems and powers of hell can stand against it (Matt. 16.18). Commit yourself to being light for Him today.

Sing Psalm 48.12-14
(Cwm Rhonda: Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah)
Walk about the blessèd city, see her beauty, see her power.
Count her ramparts, filled with glory, look on ev’ry mighty tower.
Tell her glory to the nations: God will guide her evermore;
God will guide her evermore!

T. M. and Susie Moore

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.


T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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