In my opinion, one of the nicest parts of this psalm is the concluding section in which the people are invited to walk around the city, count the towers and consider the ramparts and citadels, that the perfect nature of God's recent deliverance might be impressed on their minds so they might be able to remember it vividly and so be able to pass it on to their children and their children's children (vv. 12, 13).

A corporate testimony. The third item in this section of the psalm is the people's corporate testimony to the deliverance, expressed in the words "As we have heard, so have we seen..." (v. 8). It means that we have heard about the powerful acts of God in past days. Our fathers and mothers have told us about them. Now we have seen the power of God for ourselves. He has acted in our time also.

After the opening couplet in praise of God, which sets the tone for the psalm, the psalmist praises God's city itself. The first part of this praise is in verses 2-8. It has three sections.

Create a pure heart. This is a startling request, and we must not miss its force. The word that begins this section is the Hebrew verb bara, which is used in Genesis 1 for the creation of the heavens and the earth by God. Strictly used, this word describes what only God can do, that is, to create ex nihilo, out of nothing. It is true that you and I, being made in God's image, can create things too, but not in the same way. We create out of existing material, using preexisting mental forms or ideas. God creates out of nothing, as only God can. In Genesis 1 bara is used at three pivotal points of the narrative to describe: 1) the creation of matter, the heavens and the earth (v. 1); 2) the creation of self-conscious life, the animals (v. 21); and 3) the creation of God-conscious life, human beings (v. 27). At all other points less powerful verbs are employed.

We are used to symbolism in poetry, and it would be hard to find a psalm that did not employ much of it. But sometimes we come to a psalm that exceeds the others in the sense that its very theme is symbolic. Psalm 48 is such a psalm.