Psalm 48 is another psalm celebrating God’s protection over Israel. Although verse eight makes it seem that a particular failed attack on Jerusalem was in view, there is not enough information to know which one. The first stanza (Psalm 48:1-8) reflects on the specific attack itself. Apparently God’s defense of Jerusalem came so swiftly and strongly that her attackers were thoroughly surprised and routed.
Ancient peoples often associated their gods with their gods’ dwelling places, which were frequently said to be on mountains (e.g., Mount Olympus). In verses 1-2 Mount Zion was compared to the beautiful Mount Zaphon north of Israel (the Hebrew word, tsaphon, means “north”), the place where the Canaanites had worshiped their chief god, El. Because Jehovah is greater than all other gods, his mountain is also greater, and his city on that hill, Jerusalem, is greater as well.
The second stanza (Psalm 48:9-14) is more of a reflection on God as their protector rather than on the protection itself. Verses 9-11 were directed to God, declaring that this protection was theirs because of God’s loyal love for them, and they knew that he was worthy of all the praise they could give him. Verses 12-14 were directed to their fellow Israelites to observe what God had done for them so they could pass down their stories so future generations could praise him as well.