Jerusalem was built on four hills of which two were of special significance. On Mount Moriah the temple was built, and on Mount Zion the king's throne stood. Speaking in Psalm 48:1 of the mountain of His holiness the psalmist refers to Mt. Moriah and the temple with its holy place and Holy of Holies, where God dwelt symbolically between the cherubim on the altar in that Holy of Holies. That made Jerusalem the holy city. In verse 2, the psalmist speaks literally of Mt. Zion. He writes: "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King."
Therefore it was not a physical beauty the psalmist had in mind when he wrote these words. Its beauty consisted in this that God was there. It was the city of the Great King Who was there in Christ, Who was there typically in the blood sprinkled on that mercy seat, and was upon the throne in all the kings who were types of Christ.
Christ made that temple and city beautiful. He brings joy, and any nation that does not have Him as their king has no real beauty and joy. Outside and apart from Christ all lies under the curse, has shame, and is under God's holy wrath.
But the citizens of Christ's kingdom have blessedness because their beauty and joy is heavenly and everlasting. This they will never lose. In Him they are securely blessed and can confidently sing (PRC Psalter):
Mount Zion, glorious and fair
Gives joy to people in all lands;
The city of the mighty King
In majesty securely stands.
Apply that to your church. The question is not what a beautiful building you have, or what delightful music your organ can produce. Is God there in the pure preaching of His word? Is its refuge Christ and His cross? Are its members spiritually beautiful, because they have been born again and the Spirit clothes them with Christ's beauty?
The church's beauty is the beauty of Christ, and its joy is the salvation He has realized for all its members.
Read: Isaiah 61
Psalter versification: #131:2
(Words and Music of the Psalter)
Meditations on the Heidelberg Catechism
Song for Meditation: Psalter #71
Why not sing along??
Through the Bible in One Year
Ezekiel 39 ; Ezekiel 40:1-27
James 2:18-26 ; James 3
Quote for Reflection:
"If the Lord undertakes to guide us in our life's journey, we must be satisfied with His doing it step by step. It is rarely His way to reveal to us much beforehand. In most cases we know little or nothing in advance. How can it be otherwise if we are to walk by faith! We must trust Him implicitly for the full development of His plan concerning us. But if we are really walking with God, taking heed to our ways according to His Word, He will gradually make things plain. His providences will clear up our difficulties, and what we know not now, we shall know hereafter." --Arthur W. Pink, Elijah (pg. 59)