The City of God

Psalms 46, 47 and 48

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 46, 47 and 48

Gordon Churchyard

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

Words marked with a *star are described in the word list at the end.

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Jesus said, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you killed the *prophets and put to death the people that (God) sent to you. I often wanted to bring you together, *like a mother bird that brings her young birds together under her *wings. But you would not come". (Matthew 23:37) (A *prophet speaks for God. A *wing is what a bird flies with.)

The Story of Psalms 46, 47 and 48

We do not know who wrote these 3 psalms. We do not know when their author wrote them. (The author is the person that writes something.) What we do know is that something happened that saved the city of Jerusalem. What was it?

We are not sure, but many Christians and Jews think that it was when Sennacherib attacked Jerusalem. This was in 701 *BC. BC means "years Before Christ came to the earth". Sennacherib was the king of Assyria. Assyria was a strong country, and an enemy of Jerusalem. Assyria attacked Jerusalem in 701 *BC. But God *protected the city. (*Protect is another word for "keep safe".) One night, 185 000 Assyrian soldiers died. We do not know why. It was a strange illness, but we do not know what it was. This is what the Bible says in 2 Kings 19:34-36:

v34  (God said) "I will *protect this city and I will save it. (I will do this) for myself and for my servant David".

v35  So, it happened that night that the *angel of the *LORD went out. In the place where the Assyrians were, he killed 185 000 (of them). When the others woke up in the morning, they saw all the dead bodies.

v36  So Sennacherib, king of Assyria, went away. He went and returned to Nineveh, where he lived.

If Psalms 46-48 are from this date, then perhaps the author was the *prophet Isaiah. Many of the words in these psalms are also words that Isaiah used in his book, but not many other Bible writers used.

But it does not matter who wrote these psalms. What is important is that they tell us that God can *protect his city. The city of Jerusalem is a picture of God’s people. God can *protect his own people! If you want to know more about Jerusalem, read Psalm 87 in this set of psalms.

Psalm 46

    (This is) for the (music) leader.
  (It is) for the *sons of Korah.
  (It is) a song for women’s voices.

v1   God is *like a place where we can go, where he will *protect us.
  He will always give us help when troubles come.

v2   So we will not be afraid when the earth moves (under our feet),
  or when the mountains fall into the middle of the seas.

v3   (We will not be afraid)
  even when the seas make a loud noise and move a lot.
  (We will not be afraid)
  when the mountains move a lot as well.   *SELAH

v4   (There is) a river (and) the waters from it make the city of God very happy.
  (The city) is the *holy place where the *Most High lives.

v5   God is in the middle of it. It will not fall down.
  God will give it help early in the morning.

v6   The *nations made a loud noise. *Kingdoms fell.
  When (God) spoke even the earth *melted!

v7   The *LORD of Everything is with us.
  The God of Jacob makes us safe.   *SELAH

v8   Go and look at the things that the *LORD has done.
  (He has done) surprising things in the earth!

v9   He is the one that makes *wars finish all over the world.
  He breaks bows; he destroys *spears; and he burns *shields in a fire.

v10   Be quiet! Know that I am God.
  I will (make them) lift me high among the *nations.
  I will (make them) lift me high in (all the) world.

v11   The *LORD of Everything is with us.
  The God of Jacob makes us safe.   *SELAH

 What Psalm 46 means

The *sons of Korah sang the music in the *Temple in Jerusalem. The *Temple was the house of God in Jerusalem. You can read more about the sons of Korah in Psalms 42-43 in this set of psalms. You can read about the *Temple at the end of Psalm 4 in this set of psalms.

Verses 1 – 3: A verse is a part of a psalm. This psalm has 11 verses. Many Bible students think that verse 7 should come three times, not twice. It should also be after verse 3. We are not sure what *SELAH means. Perhaps it means a place for music, or a place to think and pray.

Verses 4 – 7: In the psalm, the city of God is Jerusalem. For us it means "the people of God". The *Most High is another name for God. In verse 5 we read "early in the morning". This is when they saw what the *angel of the *LORD had done in the night, look at 2 Kings 19:35 in The Story of Psalms 46, 47 and 48. In verse 6 "the *nations" are people *like the Assyrians. The loud noise was to frighten the people in Jerusalem. But the *kingdoms that fell, because somebody destroyed them, did not include Jerusalem! In verse 7, "God of Jacob" is another name for "God of the Jews". Because Jerusalem did not fall to Assyria, the *psalmist wrote, "The *LORD of everything is with us". He meant that God was fighting for Jerusalem. Christians believe that God still fights for his people. He is the same God that the *psalmist called "the God of Jacob" and "the *LORD of everything". (The *psalmist is the person that wrote the psalm.)

Verses 8 – 11: Verse 8 tells us that God has done surprising things in the earth. These are things that not only surprise us (because we did not think that they would happen) but also make us a bit afraid. Verse 9 tells us that God stopped the *war. Verse 10 tells us that God spoke to the people that were fighting just as a parent speaks to *noisy children. (*Noisy means "making a lot of noise".) It is as if God said, "I am your leader. Stop all this noise". The end of verse 10 means two things. In the time of the *psalmist it meant that God would make people see that he was "the *Most High". For Christians it means that they lifted God high on the cross of Calvary to make everybody see what he was doing. Those that wanted Jesus to save them would then come to him. (They killed Jesus on the cross of Calvary.)

Psalm 47

  (This is) for the (music) leader.
(It is) for the *sons of Korah.
(It is) a psalm.

v1   Peoples from every (country), *clap your hands (together).
  Shout aloud to God with the sound of happy singing.

v2   Because the *LORD *Most High is wonderful.
  (He is) the Great King of all the earth.

v3   He won the fight against peoples (that were our enemies).
  He put their soldiers under our feet.

v4   He chose for us the place where we live.
  Jacob, that he loved, is very happy with it.   *SELAH

v5   God has gone up with a great noise.
  The *LORD (has gone up) with the sound of a *shofar.

v6   Sing *praises to God, sing *praises!
  Sing *praises to our king, sing *praises!

v7   Because God is the King of the whole earth.
  Sing (to him) a *maskil.

v8   God is ruling over the *nations.
  God is sitting on his *holy *throne.

v9   People that want to be his servants
  have joined the people that belong to Abraham's God.
  The people that rule the earth belong to God.
  (They lifted God up) very high.


The Hebrew word for this is zamar, from which we get our word "psalm". Remember, we pronounce "psalm" as "sarm". We pronounce "zamar" as "sarmar". So, psalm means *praise!

What Psalm 47 means

Korah is after Psalm 43 in this set of psalms and *SELAH is in What Psalm 46 means, verses 1 - 3. The other two Hebrew words in this translation are "*shofar" and "*maskil". A *shofar was something that made music. We would call it a "*musical instrument". It made a loud noise that told soldiers that it was time to fight. In verse 5 servants of God, called *priests, blew the *shofars. It was a way of giving God *praises. The Jews called some of the psalms "*maskils". Psalms 42 and 44 are examples. We are not sure what the word means. We think that it means that it teaches us something important.

The important verse in this psalm is verse 5. It says, "God has gone up". Where has he gone to? Where did he go up from? To understand, we must go back to Psalm 46. There, we said that God saved Jerusalem from an enemy, perhaps Assyria. To do this, the Jews believed that God came down from *heaven, to Jerusalem. *Heaven is where God lives. We do not know where it is. After God had beaten the enemy, he went back up to *heaven. So, "God has gone up" means that he has gone up from Jerusalem, back into *heaven. It was the people who made the great noise. They were so happy that God had saved them that they shouted and sang. They also made a noise by *clapping their hands together. Today we call this "applause".

Verse 9 is interesting. It tells us that people who are not Jews have joined with the Jews. Together, they *praise and *worship God. *Worship means that they love God, and so they want to obey him. It also means that they are a bit afraid of God. Some people show this by getting down on their knees in front of God. We call this "kneeling". It does not matter who we are, we can all *worship God. We only have to "want to be his servants".

For centuries, Christians have sung this psalm on Ascension Day. That is the day when Christians remember Jesus going up to *heaven. Jesus did what God did in the psalm. He came down to the earth, he saved us from our enemy, and he went back up after he had finished his work. Our enemy is not Assyria, but death. If we believe in Jesus, we will live with Jesus *for ever when we leave this earth. That is why Christians love Psalm 47:6.

Psalm 48

  (This is) a song.
  (It is) a psalm for the (music) leader.

v1   The *LORD is great. He really is worth our *praise.
  His *holy mountain is in the city of our God.

v2   Mount Zion is in a beautiful place,
  and it makes the whole world very happy.
  It is the city of the Great King.
  (It is also called) the High Place of Zaphon.

v3   God was in its *defences and he made them very safe.

v4   (This was) when we saw the kings meeting each other.
  They crossed (into our country) together.

v5   (Then) they saw (something) that really surprised them.
  It made them very frightened (so that) they hurried away!

v6   They were so afraid that they felt pain *like a woman having a baby.

v7   It was *like the east wind that destroys great ships,
  (*like those from) Tarshish.

v8   We have seen in the city of the *LORD of Everything
  that it was just as people told us.
  (They told us that) God would keep the city of our God safe *for ever!

v9   When we are inside your *temple, God, we think of your kind love.

v10   Your name reaches to the ends of the world
  so that (people) give you *praise.
  Your right hand is full of the good things that you do.

v11   Because of the things that you decide to do:
  · Mount Zion will be very happy
  · the daughters of Judah will *praise you.

v12   Walk all round Zion, go to every side of it. Count the *towers,

v13   think about its strong buildings and make a note of its *defences.
  Then you may describe it to your children.

v14   For this God is our God *for ever and ever.
  He will be our guide until we die.

 What Psalm 48 means

Verses 1 – 2: The *holy mountain is Mount Zion, where they built the *temple. But, in this psalm, the *holy mountain is all the city of Jerusalem. They had built it on the edge of high land, so when you came to it, it looked beautiful. The High Place of Zaphar was where all old religions thought that their god came to the earth. The *psalmist is saying that there is only one Zaphar, and only one God: Jerusalem is the real Zaphar, and the *LORD is the real God.

Verses 3 – 8: The kings in verse 4 were the leaders of the Assyrian army. (Look at The Story of Psalms 46, 47 and 48 again.) They attacked Jerusalem, but God kept his city safe, and the people that were in it. The kings saw something that frightened them away. We do not know what it was. Perhaps it was the 185 000 dead bodies! God did this just as easily as he could send a wind to destroy a ship! Tarshish was a place in Spain that had the biggest ships in the world at that time. The people living in Jerusalem saw that what they had heard was true: God will keep his people safe! But they must believe in him, obey him and love him. Later, when the Jews did not do these things, God did not keep their city safe.

Verses 9 – 13: After the *war was over, the *psalmist tells the people to remember what happened. They were to look at all the places that God had made safe. Then they could tell their children what had happened, and the places where it had happened. This would help their children to believe, obey and love God also. The Bible teaches us that it is important to tell our children what God has done for us.

Verse 14: "God will be our guide until we die" means that he will lead if we will follow him. "*for ever and ever" means "always". After we die, we will be with God if we believe, obey and love him.

Something to do

1.  If you have a Bible, read Isaiah chapter 37. It will tell you more about Sennacherib's attack on Jerusalem.

2.  How many names for God can you find in Psalms 46, 47 and 48?

3.  Learn to say Psalm 48:14 by heart. "By heart" means that you can say it without looking at the words.

4.  Read about the *temple, and the *sons of Korah, in Psalms 4 and 43.

Word list

angel ~ a servant of God (usually) in *heaven.

BC ~ years Before Christ came to the earth.

clap ~ hit the fronts of your hands together a lot.

defences ~ safe walls and buildings.

for ever (and ever) ~ always, with no end.

heaven ~ the home of God.

holy ~ very very good; only God is really holy (because he always obeys his rules); Jerusalem was holy because people *worshipped God there.

horn ~ on the head of animals *like cows and goats.

kingdom ~ a country that has a king.

like ~ another word for "as".

LORD ~ a special name for God; only his people use it (look after Psalm 25).

maskil ~ a psalm that teaches you something.

melted ~ *like ice changing to water.

Most High ~ a name for God which means that he is very important.

musical instruments ~ something that you make music with.

nation ~ a group of people (or a country) with a government.

noisy ~ making a lot of noise, not very quiet.

praise ~ (noun, or being something) words that say that someone or something is very good.

praise ~ (verb, or doing something) say that someone or something is very good.

praises ~ saying good things about someone, and how great they are.

priest ~ servant of a god in a *temple (here servant of true God).

prophet ~ someone who speaks for God (makes a prophecy).

protect ~ stop an enemy hurting or killing someone.

psalmist ~ the person that wrote a psalm.

queen ~ the wife of a king.

SELAH ~ a word often used in the psalms; we do not know what it means, probably stop and think, or pray, or make music.

shield ~ something that a soldier uses to stop things hitting him.

shofar ~ a *horn from the head of a cow; when you blew into it, it made music; an early trumpet.

sons of Korah ~ the people that sang in the *Temple (look in Psalm 43).

spear ~ a long stick with a very sharp end.

temple ~ a special building where people *worship God.

throne ~ a special chair that a king or *queen sits on.

tower ~ a tall, safe building made of stone and/or wood.

war ~ people (or *nations) fighting each other.

wings ~ what a bird uses to fly with.

worship ~ say that someone is very wonderful.


© 2000-2001, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words)

July 2001

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