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Devotional: September 4, 2020

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, Mount Zion, in the far north,     the city of the great King.

Psalm 48: 1-2     The Message

This Psalm is speaking of God’s greatness, and encourages us to praise Him. We know that we can literally praise the Lord anywhere, but here the Psalmist wants us to be aware of Praising God in the “city of our God”: Jerusalem.

Jerusalem sits on a series of hills, and one of those hills, Mount Zion, was the site of the temple. Thus, it was known as “Temple Mount”. It is one of the highest points in Jerusalem. People would need to lift their eyes to look up to it. Although the temple itself was destroyed in the year 70 AD, the massive support stones for the plaza it sat upon are still in place. These cornerstones are so massive that it is hard to believe that when it was built, excavation equipment and heavy machinery was not used. The size of the temple was also significant. In those days, many would gather for celebrations, and the people lifting their praises to the Lord were numbered in the thousands. 

The Psalmist finds joy in offering praise to God from Jerusalem.  With its high elevation, and being the seat of the throne of King David, I believe the Psalmist found great comfort in worshiping from the temple.

As you look back over your life, are there specific places where you have found worshiping the Lord to be exceptionally meaningful? Some of us may have visited a place only once, yet felt especially drawn to the Lord at that moment. For others, it may be a recurring place in your life. Regardless of the frequency or timing of those encounters with the Lord, have you made a spiritual memory of them? We may not be able to return to those places, but we can draw upon the memory of those visits. When we do so, we may find that closeness that we all yearn to have with our Lord. 

Here the Psalmist is directing us to worship and praise the Lord. His preferred place of worship is Mount Zion. In actuality, there is absolutely no one perfect place for worshipping God. We know that wherever we choose to worship the Lord, He is present with us. 

Several places, throughout my life, stand out as very worshipful for me. For a number of years, we would travel to The Gorge for “The Creation Festival”, with our youth group. Although packed full of people, there was an amazing sense of worshiping the Lord out in the beautiful Columbia Basin, along with hundreds of others. Tall Timber, our Christian Church camp near Lake Wenatchee is another special place. Several years ago, when we went to Israel, Mount Zion was a deeply meaningful place to feel the presence of the Lord. Yet with each specific place, it was not as if I traveled to the Lord. He traveled with me. 

Certain places and even songs and hymns are touchstones on our walk with the Lord. I have attended numerous camps at Tall Timber. Along with countless campers, I have praises to the Lord by the waters of the Napeequa and White Rivers. Sitting in front of the fire circle, with the cross behind the fire, and the mountains in the background: it is always one of my most cherished places to worship. 

One of the songs sung at Tall Timber is based on this very Psalm, drawing its lyrics almost directly from the biblical text. Those lyrics go like this:

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,

  In the city of our God,

  In the mountain of His holiness.

Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth,

  Is Mount Zion, on the sides of the north,

    The city of the great King.

  Is Mount Zion, on the sides of the north,

    The city of the great King.”

If you want to listen to the song, here is a link to the song on YouTube:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kg-phxnVdM 


Today, offer praise to the Lord, wherever you may be. Also, give thanks to God for those special geographic locations in your life where you have felt especially close to the Lord. Yet realize that with the Lord, it’s not, “location, location, location”. Unlike that real estate selling phrase, the truth is that the Lord owns all the earth. We can worship God anywhere, and everywhere! Hallelujah! 

Prayer

Holy God,

You are great! Your name is worthy of praise! We praise You, and thank you for blessing us with places throughout our lives which draw us closer to you. We thank you for those meaningful times of worship. Help us to realize that no matter where we are, we can worship You. That includes right here, and right now. Thank you for this solid promise which we can always rely upon. We pray this prayer in the name of Your son, the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. Amen.


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