“Walk about Zion, and go around about her; tell the towers thereof.” – Psalm xlviii. 12.
ZION, or the city of David, was strongly fortified, her walls were calculated to resist a strong invading force, and her towers were ample and imposing. This city has been chosen throughout the writings of the Old and New Testament as a favorite figure of the church of God, the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. The inspired singer of Israel, in the exalted strains of his devotion, as described in this Psalm, was led to contemplate more than the figure; his prophetic eye glanced down the vista of ages, and beheld with rapture the advent, the kingdom, and the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. With the understanding then, that the Zion of our text is the spiritual kingdom of Christ, we will inquire, Who are called upon to survey her walls, and to report the number of her towers? Qualifications of a spiritual kind are indispensible to the performance of this work. Not all the wisdom of men can supercede the necessity of the Spirit’s work; for, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” – John iii. 3; and certainly a man, however wise, learned, or great, who cannot see, must be incompetent to tell or count the towers of Zion. If men by wisdom could know God, or if by education, or indefatigable research could learn the invincibility of the bulwarks of the church of God, they would never venture an assault upon her; but God in wisdom has hidden it from their powers of perception, that they may exhaust all their energies in fruitless warfare, for not one of her stakes shall ever be removed, nor one of her cords ever be broken. Souls that are born again, redeemed, and brought with singing to Zion, alone are blessed with the privilege of “Walking round Zion.” The idea in the text of walking round Zion, is not to gratify an idle curiosity, but to prepare the peculiarly favored beholders to make their report to the generation to come, and to fill the soul with confidence in God, that he is abundantly able to keep that which they have committed to him, against that day.
But let us consider what it is to walk around the Zion of our God. Her location, the Psalmist informs us, is in the mountain of the holiness of God, beautiful for situation! The joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion, on the sides of the north; the city of the great King; and God is known in her palaces for a refuge. Can we then circumambulate her walls so as to see her strength, and tell her towers, and yet remain ignorant of the “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,” in whose holiness she is immutably and eternally established? Fearful emblems of divine Majesty were displayed in giving the preceptive covenant to carnal Israel from the top of Sinai; but they who count the towers of Zion are not come to the mountain that might be touched. No peals of thunder shake the walls of Zion ; no streaming lightnings bear God’s vengeance down to those who dwell within her sacred walls. No gloom of darkness, tempest, fire nor smoke sullies the beauty of her situation. But those who find her gates, come to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the First Born, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant; and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
To this Mount, to this heavenly vision of peace, they come, because they are the redeemed of the Lord, and God has said they shall come with songs and everlasting joy. The great trumpet is blown, amid they shall come which were ready to perish, &c., and shall worship God at his holy mount at Jerusalem. Nothing is more certain than that we must come to this Zion before we can walk around it; and as coming to Zion is coming to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, no man can come except the Father who sent Jesus into the world, draw him, and he will raise him up at the last day. But, all that the Father gave him, shall come unto him, and shall in no case be cast out.
Reader, have you come to Zion? If you have, you know and you are willing to confess that the Father has drawn you there to Christ; and this being your happy condition, it is your privilege to take the walk proposed in the text.
“Go around about her.” This is no place for idleness; it is true your going around her is not to add to her strength, nor safety, for that is not necessary, nor is it possible, for
“Her walls are strength, and at her gates
A guard of heavenly warriors waits,
Nor shall her firm foundations move,
Fix’d on his counsel and his love.”
But this privilege contemplates your improvement, your instruction, and your comfort, as well as your blessed employment. Go round about her. You have not yet seen all that there is to be learned; you may have seen or had some faint view of the strait gate, by which you entered this city, but have you observed the closed gate that looketh towards the east, by which the Lord God of Israel hath entered, and can you report with accuracy the dimensions of the south, the north, and the west gates? See Ezekiel xliv., To perform this delightful walk like the prophet Ezekiel, you will require to have a guide; you cannot perform it alone. But if that guide which Jesus promised, takes you in charge, he shall guide you into all truth; and then you will walk and not faint. This walk, if we mistake not, will occupy the whole pilgrimage of the saints of the Lord, from the moment of their translation from darkness to light, until they behold the consummation of the glory of the church in unclouded glory and uninterrupted bliss.
“Tell the towers thereof.” The Lord’s name is one of them, and it is invincible. At this tower, every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess. Yea, it is a strong tower, into which the righteous flee and find safety. But the Psalmist uses the plural number. “Tell the towers thereof.” To tell, is to count. Now let us see if we can count the towers of strength and safety which God has provided for his saints. God’s thoughts are but another name for his purpose or his counsel, and David has said, If I should count them they are more than the hairs of my head. Every new covenant promise is a tower of strength to the children of God. The spiritual bond that serves as a connecting link or neck which unites Christ the head, and Zion the body, is as the tower of David which was builded for an armory, where on there hang a thousand blicklers, all shields of mighty men. Predestination, election, effectual calling, preservation in grace to glory, resurrection and eternal glory, are well known towers to the tried saints. Often have they been chased into them by their arminian natures, and by their arminian devils too; but they have always found them impregnable. Standing in this doctrine, the darts of the enemy cease to be hurled at us; for the enemy hates the doctrine with more deadly hate than that with which he hates us, and all his arrows are wasted in vain attempts to batter down our towers, and finding them invulnerable, their poisoned arrows fall harmlessly at our feet.
The idea of fortifications, forts, towers, &c., clearly implies the present militant state of the church of the living God, the holy city, whose dimensions are eighteen thousand measures, and the name of which from that day shall be, “The Lord is there.” Now she has enemies to encounter, battles to fight, Agags to hew in pieces, persecutions, reproaches and sore conflicts to endure; but the God of Jeshurun rideth upon the heavens in her help, and in his excellency on the sky! The eternal God is her refuge, and underneath her are the everlasting arms.
New Vernon, N.Y.,
August 1, 1846
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 2
Pages 662 – 665