These Psalms could be an extension of 46. God is king over his city and his people, and Jesus is again referred to in this verse in 47:
5 God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets.
How can God ascend unless he first descended. Jesus seems to reference this exact verse in John 3 speaking to Nicodemus:
This idea of the nations and the kings of the earth belonging to God seems counterintuitive. It surely doesn’t appear to be the case as we look through history or now. Nations and kings revel in their own power, not that they belong to God. But this is clearly eschatological. The last two verses in 47 gives that away:
8 God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne.
9 The nobles of the nations assemble
as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kings of the earth belong to God;
he is greatly exalted.
As in previous Psalms, the writer goes back to God’s universal covenant given to Abram; all the nations of the earth would be blessed through him. Thus there will come a time when this will happen. In one sense it is happening now because he gives all men life and breath and everything else. God in his sovereign providential power allows whatever and whoever rules at this time, but there will come a time when “the nobles” will actually be his! That is purchased by the blood of Christ.
Psalm 48 takes us back from the nations to God’s city, where he dwells. Got makes this city secure “forever” because he dwells in her. This is kind of a strange phrase if you think about it. How can God, an omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent spiritual being “dwell” somewhere. Living in a place is a spatial concept, and God permeates all space; he invented it! So there has to be an idea of his favor here. As Charles Hodge so beautifully put it in his Systematic Theology, the favor of God is the life of the soul. You only have two options with the holy God of Scripture: wrath or love, enmity or peace (not to ignore the truth of common grace to his creation).
We have a hint of what this means for God’s city, Zion, which is where his people dwell. In verse 10 it says that his “right hand is filled with righteousness.” The reference to the right hand in scripture refers to power, and we could say the Psalmist here is inferring that God has the power to give us his righteousness. We know this is true in the light of Christ’s life of perfect obedience, death on a cross, and resurrection. God dwells with us and in us only because he pulled it off, justly forgiving our sins so he would not be tainted by our sin, and imputed Christ’s righteousness to us. There is no other way outside of the gospel this could have been done because we are hopeless sinners. I love the last few verses that prefigure the gospel to me:
12 Walk about Zion, go around her,
count her towers,
13 consider well her ramparts,
view her citadels,
that you may tell of them
to the next generation.
14 For this God is our God for ever and ever;
he will be our guide even to the end.
What a great metaphor: walk about, count, consider, view, all imply impregnable strength and power, and that we should not only immerse ourselves in contemplating it all, but pass it on to generations to come. I also like when he says “this” God, because it isn’t just any God, but the God who is unequivocally for us. He is our God. Only in the fullness of time were we able to see what a radical concept this is, God himself laying down his own life for miserable sinners like us. Not a little profound when you think about it.