Verse 2. Beautiful for situation. Jerusalem was so naturally, she was styled the Queen of the East; the church is so spiritually, being placed near God's heart, within the mountain of his power, upon the hills of his faithfulness, in the centre of providential operations. The elevation of the church is her beauty. The more she is above the world the fairer she is. The joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion. Jerusalem was the world's star; whatever light lingered on earth was borrowed from the oracles preserved by Israel. An ardent Israelite would esteem the holy city as the eye of the nations, the most precious pearl of all lands. Certainly the church of God, though despised of men, is the true joy and hope of the world. On the sides of the north, the city of the great King. Either meaning that Jerusalem was in the northern extremity of Judah, or it may denote that part of the city that lay to the north of Mount Zion. It was the glory of Jerusalem to be God's city, the place of his regal dwelling, and it is the joy of the church that God is in her midst. The great God is the great King of the church, and for her sake he rules all the nations. The people among whom the Lord deigns to dwell are privileged above all others; the lines have fallen unto them in pleasant places, and they have a goodly heritage. We who dwell in Great Britain in the sides of the north, have this for our chief glory, that the Lord is known in our land, and the abode of his love is among us.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 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. What is there, or was there, about Zion to justify the high eulogium of David? The situation is indeed eminently adapted to be the platform of a magnificent citadel. Rising high above the deep valley of Gihon and Hinnom, on the west and south, and the scarcely less deep one of the Cheesemongers on the east, it could only be assailed from the northwest; and then on the sides of the north it was magnificently beautiful, and fortified by walls, towers, and bulwarks, the wonder and terror of the nations: "For the kings were assembled, they passed by together. They saw it, and so they marvelled; they were troubled, and hasted away." At the thought of it the royal psalmist again bursts forth in triumph: "Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following." Alas! her towers have long since fallen to the ground, her bulwarks have been overthrown, her palaces have crumbled to dust, and we who now walk about Zion can tell no other story than this to the generation following. There is another Zion, however, whose towers are still more glorious, and shall never be overthrown. "God is known in her palaces for a refuge." And "this God is our God for ever and ever." How often is this name synonymous with the church of the living God! and no other spot but one can divide with it the affection of his people -- no other name but one can awaken such joyful hopes in the Christian's heart. The temporal Zion is now in the dust, but the true Zion is rising and shaking herself from it, and putting on her beautiful garments to welcome her King when he comes to reign over the whole earth. W. M. Thompson, D.D.
Verse 2. When I stood that morning on the brow of Olivet, and looked down on the city, crowning those battlemented heights, encircled by those deep and dark ravines, I involuntarily exclaimed, Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. And as I gazed, the red rays of the rising sun shed a halo round the top of the castle of David; then they tipped with gold each tapering minaret, and gilded each dome of mosque and church, and at length, bathed in one flood of ruddy light the terraced roofs of the city, and the grass and foliage, the cupolas, pavements, and colossal walls of the Haram. No human being could be disappointed who first saw Jerusalem from Olivet. J. L. Porter.
Verse 2. (first clause). Beautiful in climate, that is, Mount Zion is situated in a fair and lovely climate. This is the view taken by Montanus and Ainsworth. Bate and Parkhurst read, "Beautiful in extension, i.e., in the prospect which it extends to the eye." Editorial Note to Calvin in loc.
Verse 2. Beautiful for situation. This earth is, by sin, covered with deformity, and therefore justly might that spot of ground, which was thus beautified with holiness, be called the joy of the whole earth, i.e., what the whole earth had reason to rejoice in, because God would thus in very deed dwell with man upon the earth. Matthew Henry.
Verse 2. Beautiful for situation.
-- Fair Jerusalem
The holy city, lifted high her towers,
And higher yet the glorious temple reared
Her pile, far off appearing like a mount
Of alabaster, topped with golden spires.
John Milton in "Paradise Regained."
Verse 2. On the sides of the north. Jerusalem, that is the upper and best part of it, was built on the north side of Mount Zion. Hadrian Reland, 1676-1718.
Verse 2. Jerusalem lay to the north of Sion, and this circumstance is mentioned as a proof of Mount Zion's greatest security, for it was almost inaccessible on any other side except the north, and there is was defended by Jerusalem, which was very strong. Samuel Burder.
Verse 2. The great King. God is named the great King in opposition to the kings in Psalms 48:4 . E. W. Hengstenberg.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- Was the ancient Zion beautiful for situation? So is the New Testament church founded upon a rock, upon eternal purpose and grace.
- Was it the joy of the whole earth? So the New Testament church will become.
- Was it the special joy of the tribes of Israel that were almost entirely to the north of Jerusalem? So the church is to the saints.
- Was it a royal as well as a holy city? So is the church. "Yet I have set," etc.