Description
This psalm is a prophetic picture of the awesomeness of Millennial Jerusalem, seen from the perspective of both Gentile kings and Jews. Its comparison to Mount Zaphon implies that Mount Zion is the true assembly of God before his elders.
Commentary
This psalm is a prophetic picture of Millennial Jerusalem, God's holy mountain city (v1). Jerusalem is the city of Jesus the great king (v2), where God himself lives in its fortress and reveals himself as its defender (v3).

Verse 2a says, "It is lofty and pleasing to look at, a source of joy to the whole earth". Regarding its loftiness, Isaiah 2:2 says, "In the future the mountain of the LORD's temple will endure as the most important of mountains, and will be the most prominent of hills". In a metaphorical sense, mountains symbolise kingdoms, so this verse implies that Christ's kingdom, with its capital in Jerusalem, will rule over every other kingdom. But together with Zechariah 14:10, it seems God will literally raise up Jerusalem to make it the highest mountain, and millennial Jerusalem will be rebuilt upon this high mountain.

The phrase 'pleasing to look at' speaks of the beauty of Millennial Jerusalem. Describing the eternal New Jerusalem, Revelation 21:10-11 says, "So he took me away in the Spirit to a huge, majestic mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. The city possesses the glory of God; its brilliance is like a precious jewel, like a stone of crystal-clear jasper". Although the psalmist seems to be describing Millennial Jerusalem, it seems that like its eternal replacement, it will also be very beautiful.

Verse 2b says literally, "Mount Zion, the peaks of Zaphon". These two expression, 'Mount Zion' and 'peaks of Zaphon' are in apposition to each other, meaning they are two ways of describing the same thing. Similarly in verse 1, 'city of our God' and 'his holy hill' are in apposition to each other. The phrase 'peaks of Zaphon' is an important idiomatic expression. In Hebrew it is 'yerekah zaphon'. It is an allusion to Canaanite mythology in which Mount Zaphon was believed to be the assembly of the gods, of whom Baal was the high god. It was the Canaanite equivalent of Mount Olympus to the Greeks. Idiomatically, it is a statement that Mount Zion is the assembly of Jehovah, the true God. Speaking of Millennial Jerusalem, Isaiah 24:23 says, "Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously" (KJV). Similarly, Revelation 4:4 portrays God's heavenly throne in the assembly of the elders, "In a circle around the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on those thrones were twenty-four elders". Mount Zaphon, is known today as Jebel Aqra, and is located on the Mediterranean coast, at the border of Turkey and Syria. 'Zaphon' is the Hebrew word for 'north', and appropriately Mount Zaphon was to the north of Israel.

The idiomatic Hebrew expression 'yerekah zaphon' is important eschatologically because of its use in two other passages. In Isaiah 14:13, Satan expresses his dream of overthrowing God and taking his place as top god of the universe, "You said to yourself, “I will climb up to the sky. Above the stars of El I will set up my throne. I will rule on the mountain of assembly on the remote slopes of Zaphon". The expression translated 'the remote slopes of Zaphon' is the Hebrew 'yerekah zaphon'. Also in Ezekiel 38, 'yerekah zaphon' is used in relation to Gog's armies that attack end-time Israel. Ezekiel 38:6 says, "They are joined by Gomer with all its troops, and by Beth Togarmah from the remote parts of the north (Hebrew 'yerekah zaphon') with all its troops – many peoples are with you". In Ezekiel 38:14-15, God says to Gog, "you will take notice and come from your place, from the remote parts of the north (Hebrew 'yerekah zaphon'), you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great company and a vast army". Here in Ezekiel 38, like most bible translations, the NET bible translates 'yerekah zaphon' literally, without seeing any association with Mount Zaphon. Consequently, many prophecy scholars see a connection between Gog's armies and Russia, in the far north. But if you understand it as a reference to 'the peaks of Mount Zaphon', it suggests that Gog's armies will invade from the direction of Turkey and Syria.

Verses 4 to 8 picture earthly kings advancing towards Jerusalem. They are thrown into panic when they see how awesome Jerusalem is, and they turn and flee, saying "We heard about God’s mighty deeds, now we have seen them, in the city of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies" (v8). Isaiah 9:7 says, "His dominion will be vast and he will bring immeasurable prosperity. He will rule on David's throne and over David's kingdom, establishing it and strengthening it by promoting justice and fairness, from this time forward and forevermore." This may indicate that the establishment of Christ's earthly kingdom will be a process that takes time. So perhaps verses 4 to 8 picture earthly rulers who are yet to fully submit to Christ's rule. But these remnants of resistance will be destroyed like ships that are wrecked in a storm (v7).

Isaiah 60 paints a similar picture of nations and kings streaming to Millennial Jerusalem to pay homage to Jesus and bring him gifts, but other kings refusing to submit and serve him. Isaiah 60:11-12 says, "Your gates will remain open at all times; they will not be shut during the day or at night, so that the wealth of nations may be delivered, with their kings leading the way. Indeed, nations or kingdoms that do not serve you will perish; such nations will be totally destroyed".

Verses 9 to 14 picture the Jews in the temple, meditating on God's unfailing love for Israel, and rejoicing because of God's judgments against her enemies. The reference to God's temple in verse 9 is another clue that Millennial Jerusalem is in view here, not the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21 that is revealed at the end of the Millennium. Walking around Zion and counting her towers, the Jews feel secure in the assurance that God is their God who will always be there to guide them.
Tags
Places: Millennial Jerusalem, Mount Zion, Mount Zaphon
Symbols: Mountains, Mount Zaphon
Tags: Mount Zion as the assembly of God, Mount Zaphon as the assembly of the Canaanite gods, Millennium, Millennial Jerusalem, Nations stream to millennial Jerusalem, God loves Israel
1 A song, a psalm by the Korahites. The Lord is great and certainly worthy of praise in the city of our God, his holy hill.
2 It is lofty and pleasing to look at, a source of joy to the whole earth. Mount Zion resembles the peaks of Zaphon; it is the city of the great king.
3 God is in its fortresses; he reveals himself as its defender.
4 For look, the kings assemble; they advance together.
5 As soon as they see, they are shocked; they are terrified, they quickly retreat.
6 Look at them shake uncontrollably, like a woman writhing in childbirth.
7 With an east wind you shatter the large ships.
8 We heard about God’s mighty deeds, now we have seen them, in the city of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, in the city of our God. God makes it permanently secure. (Selah)
9 We reflect on your loyal love, O God, within your temple.
10 The praise you receive as far away as the ends of the earth is worthy of your reputation, O God. You execute justice!
11 Mount Zion rejoices; the towns of Judah are happy, because of your acts of judgment.
12 Walk around Zion! Encircle it! Count its towers!
13 Consider its defenses! Walk through its fortresses, so you can tell the next generation about it!
14 For God, our God, is our defender forever! He guides us!
(NET)