Psalm 48, the third verse of the bridal song, is dedicated to the wonders of the glorious house to which the bride has been taken by her groom, (see Psalm 45: A Wedding for All Ages). This psalm describes the groom’s house as a mighty fortress the size of a city and with the strength of a mountain. It is beautiful beyond all comparison, likely even humbling the beauty and strength of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It is further described as the joy of the whole earth (v. 2) causing all enemies of the world to shake in fear and flee in terror (v. 4-7). This is no small, plain, and humble abode, for it is a truly magnificent house that lasts forever (v. 8). But do not think these facts alone are the reason for the magnificence of the groom’s fortress: these facts are merely consequences of the true reason for its magnificence. This fortress is magnificent because it is eternal God himself: “God is in her citadels; he has shown himself to be her fortress” (v. 3).
The groom takes his bride home to become one with God and to live eternally within the embrace of God’s unfailing love and unbounded righteousness. Furthermore, the bride is given the freedom and privilege to “walk about Zion, go around her, count her towers, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels” (v. 12-13). This walk is not merely through a building constructed of stone and beam, rather, it is an unmediated immersion into the very nature and works of God himself.
I have toured some fairly sizable houses and castles in the past. I have walked the halls and rooms of Castle Neuschwanstein, the Palace of Versailles, the Biltmore Estate, the Hearst Castle, and our own local Stan Hywett, but as vast and beautiful as they all are, they are finite and exhaustible in their riches. Don’t get me wrong, I love castles, palaces, and grand estates with their large rooms, exotic decorations, and strong foundations and if allowed, I could easily become occupied with the study of any one of them for years. But eventually, I know there would come a point in time when these rich homes would no longer satisfy and I would have to move on looking for something else new to fill my time. But it is not so with the fortress that is our God. Have you ever wondered how much time it would take for a finite creature, like us, to study the full glory and riches of the eternal creator? I’m pretty sure the correct answer is an eternity.
This answer resolves of an ongoing debate I’ve had with myself for years. I’ve often wondered what we will spend our time doing when we find ourselves in eternity: will we play endless games of soccer or basketball; will we explore the galaxies and the innumerable planets; or will we merely live in a humble home in the shadow of mountains, within sight of the ocean and on the edge of a field harvesting food? While we might actually do any and all of these things, every one of these options has the same outcome: we will find the end of the joy they can provide. Thus, the only answer making sense is that our eternity will be filled with constantly discovering the unsearchable riches of the infinite God, our creator, the father of our groom!
But we must be aware of the unexpected twist at the end of this tripartite bridal song. Psalm 48:13 says, “consider well her ramparts, view her citadels, that you may tell of them to the next generation.” While I believe it accurate to say this song is about the end of all things, the inclusion of the phrase, “the next generation” indicates there is something more to discover. Yes, we are promised a coming marriage beyond all comprehension, but presently we still live in the mire and muck of life, often left to wonder where God is. I think these chapters provide a moment of majesty with a glimpse of eternal beauty that encourages us in the midst of our struggles to begin exploring the beautiful and majestic nature of God, a task that even eternity will not be sufficient to complete! And as we discover new delights of God’s goodness and righteousness, it should be our joyful task to inform those who come after us. We are asked to pass our understanding of and experience with God to the next generation so they are able to sing the great bridal song of anticipation while in the midst of their own unique problems. And then one day, one glorious day, when we gather in the holy city that is God himself, we will all explore together the infinite riches of his righteousness for eternity: a wonderful future promise giving us hope even in the midst of the most horrid of our present-day struggles.