We are continuing our series of reflections on the Psalms. Each day we will upload a new reflection to the website. We hope and pray that you will find them helpful and that they bring hope during this season. Click on these buttons to read the text of the psalm or listen to a recording of it. You can also listen to the reflection using the audio player below.
This psalm is a hymn of praise to God, one of the Songs of Zion. It was sung by the congregation, possibly during one of their pilgrim festivals when the people would gather from across Israel and go up to Mount Zion. Although, on the face of it, it seems to be a song in praise of a mountain – Mount Zion is the location of Jerusalem, the city of David, which was a fortress and the location of the temple – these, however, are symbolic and the actual object of praise is the Lord. Part of the symbolism was participating in the ritual of walking around Zion (verse 12). Psalm 48 has been used in Christian worship at Pentecost, and the words have inspired contemporary worship songs. Worship is words and music, to form a song, but also it is ritual and symbolism which can employ all the senses.
During lockdown such pilgrimages and gatherings are not permitted. The large Christian festivals like Spring Harvest, New Wine, Keswick, Focus, etc. are not taking place as usual. I really miss the gathered worship, whether at one of these events amongst thousands, or our Sunday mornings with dozens. There is something not quite the same about singing along in your living room to one musician on a video conference. That is helpful at this time, and I am grateful for the musicians who faithfully lead our sung worship. For many around the world where Christians are facing persecution, individual worship is all that has been possible.
But I still miss the gatherings.
It was a few weeks ago that I realised the sung worship in gathering was what I was particularly missing during the lockdown. Then someone sent me a link to the recording of the UK Blessing which had just been released. As I watched it I found tears streaming down my face. Something happens in these moments when we sing our praises to God. One day we will gather again, in our church buildings, in schools, in stadia, in big tops. Until then…
Father God, thank you for the gift of worship. May we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to you, as our spiritual act of worship.