1 [A Song and Psalm for the Sons of Korah.] The LORD is great and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.
2 Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.
3 God is known in her palaces for a refuge.
4 For behold, the kings were assembled. They passed by together.
5 They saw it, and so they wondered. They were troubled and hasted away.
6 Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail.
7 You break the ships of Tarshish with an east wind.
8 As we have heard, so we have seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God. God will establish it forever. [Selah.]
9 We have thought of your loving-kindness, O God, in the midst of your temple.
10 According to your name, O God, so is your praise to the ends of the earth. Your right hand is full of righteousness.
11 Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad because of your judgments.
12 Walk about Zion and go around her. Number her towers,
13 Mark well her bulwarks, and consider her palaces so that you may tell it to the generation following.
14 For this God is our God forever and ever. He will be our guide even to death.
John Calvin's Chapter Summary:
In this psalm there is celebrated some notable deliverance of the city of Jerusalem at a time when many kings had conspired to destroy it. The prophet, (whoever was the author of the psalm,) after having given thanks to God for this deliverance, takes occasion from thence to extol in magnificent terms the happy state of that city, seeing it had God for its continual guardian and protector. It would not have been enough for the people of God to have felt and acknowledged that they were once preserved and defended by the power of God, had they not at the same time been assured of being also preserved and protected by the same God in the time to come, because he had adopted them for his peculiar people. The prophet, therefore, chiefly insists upon this point, that it was not in vain that the sanctuary of God was erected upon mount Zion, but that his name was there called upon in order that his power might be conspicuously manifested for the salvation of his people. It is easy to gather from the subject-matter of the psalm that it was composed after the death of David. I indeed admit that among David's enemies there were some foreign kings, and that it was not for want of will on their part that the city of Jerusalem was not utterly destroyed; but we do not read that they ever proceeded the length of besieging it, and reducing it to such extremity as to render it necessary that their efforts should be repressed by a wonderful manifestation of the power of God. It is more probable that the psalm is to be referred to the time of king Ahaz, when the city was besieged and the inhabitants brought to the point of utter despair, and when, nevertheless, the siege was suddenly raised (2nd Kings 16:5); or else to the time of Jehoshaphat and Asa (2nd Chronicles 14:9; 20:2), for we know that under their reigns Jerusalem was preserved from utter destruction only by miraculous aid from heaven. This we are to regard as certain, that the Psalmist here exhibited to true believers an example of the favor of God towards them, from which they had reason to acknowledge that their condition was happy, seeing God had chosen for himself a dwelling-place upon mount Zion, that from thence he might preside over them for their good and safety.
[v.2] - Quoted in Matthew 5:35.