Cape Town, South Africa is at the top of the list of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. From Robben Island—made famous for its most famous prisoner, Nelson Mandela—you can see the city across the coastal water nestled in front of Table Mountain.
“Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth…” Psalm 48:1-2
South Africa’s Table Mountain doesn’t come close to the holy mountain of God. That holy mountain is beautiful in elevation. It is the joy of all the earth. It’s our joy because the Lord is there, and he is great and worthy of our purest and most vibrant praise. Joy is available to all the earth, even—or especially—in brokenness and loss.
Breathtaking and exhilarating.
“Within her citadels God has made himself known as a fortress.” Psalm 48:3
This city, while breathtaking in its beauty, is not only beautiful. There’s more than meets the eye. Look further, and you’ll see beyond the beauty is a fortress for protection from long term brokenness. There is safety and protection within these walls.
“For behold, the kings assembled; they came on together. As soon as they saw it, they were astounded; they were in panic; they took to flight. Trembling took hold of them there, anguish as of a woman in labor.” Psalm 4-6
Proffered protection insinuates the need for fortification. Admit it or not, we are in need. Indeed, enemies are mounting an attack until they turn the corner and see this glorious city and its bastion. Would-be attackers are alarmed at what they see. They turn to escape. They tremble in their boots and are in agony as in childbirth. Enemies, like the ships of Tarshish are shattered by the east wind. This fortress is impenetrable.
“As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God, which God will establish forever.” Psalm 48:8
This city and fortress are not some temporary protection. This city is established for eternity. We hear of and we see the city of God. This holy mountain is not imagined. It can be heard about, but it also can be seen.
Protection is palpable.
“We have thought on your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple. As your name, O God, so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth. Your right hand is filled with righteousness.” Psalm 48:9-10
I am reminded over and over throughout The Psalms that his steadfast love is unquestioned. It is trustworthy. In my time of loss, I have contemplated his steadfast love. I have meditated on it. I have reveled in it. I have treasured the steadfast love of the Lord. I have found his steadfast love undeniable, especially in the depths of loss.
He deserves the praises of every tribe and nation. He deserves the praises of the broken and brokenhearted. His name and his praise will be known to the uttermost parts of the earth. He is righteous, and his ways are to be trusted. He is worthy.
Again, the response is to be glad and rejoice. His judgments are trustworthy and right. Look deeply and seek him in his city. You will find no questionable way with our God. Learn of him, experience him, and tell the next generation of his goodness. He will lead us and guide us for his own name’s sake (Psalm 31:3).
“…tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.” Psalm 48:13-14