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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Psalms 47

Verses 1-2

The psalmist called on all people to applaud Yahweh joyfully because He is the great universal sovereign enthroned on high. This is a call to willing submission to His authority.

"Kings in the ancient Near East loved to designate themselves by this title [great king] because with it were associated superiority, suzerainty, and the power to grant vassal treaties (cf. 2 Kings 18:19; Isaiah 36:4). Any king assuming this title could not tolerate competition. So it is with Yahweh. He alone is the Great King over all the earth (cf. Malachi 1:11; Malachi 1:14)!" [Note: VanGemeren, p. 358.]

Verses 1-4

1. The sovereign King’s homage 47:1-4

Verses 1-9

Psalms 47

The psalmist called on all nations to honor Israel’s God who will one day rule over them. This is one of the so-called "enthronement" psalms that deals with Yahweh’s universal reign (cf. Psalms 93; Psalms 95-99). These are prophetic psalms since the worldwide rule of Messiah was future when the psalmist wrote.

"The enthronement festival is a scholarly extrapolation from a Babylonian festival in which the god Marduk was annually reenthroned in pomp and circumstance at a special event in the fall agricultural festival. The comparable occasion in Israel, or so thought Sigmund Mowinckel, was the Feast of Tabernacles in the seventh month. However, the direct biblical evidence for such an Israelite festival is virtually nil. It has essentially grown out of a ’parallelomania’ in biblical studies that shapes Israelite religion in the form of the neighboring cultures’ religions. One can identify parallels, to be sure, but the imposition of whole institutions on Israelite religion merely because echoes of such institutions from other cultures can be heard in the Psalms is questionable." [Note: Bullock, p. 181.]

A better title for this classification of psalms might be "kingship of Yahweh" psalms. [Note: Ibid., p. 188.] They bear the following characteristics: universal concern for all peoples and the whole earth, references to other gods, God’s characteristic acts (e.g., making, establishing, judging), and physical and spiritual protocol of the attitude of praise before the heavenly King. [Note: J. D. W. Watts, "Yahweh Malak Psalms," Theologische Zeitschrift 21 (1965):341-48.]

The Jews use this psalm on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year’s Day, and liturgical Christians use it as part of the celebration of Ascension Day. [Note: Wiersbe, The . . . Wisdom . . ., p. 184.]

Verses 3-4

God showed His sovereignty by subduing nations to give the Israelites their inheritance in Canaan. When Jesus Christ returns to the earth, He will again exercise authority over all nations and exalt Israel among them (Matthew 21:43; Romans 11:1-32).

Verses 5-6

The writer viewed God as mounting His cosmic throne to rule over all the earth. Trumpets announced His ascent with a fanfare. The psalmist called all people to sing praises to God because He is the sovereign Lord.

Verses 5-9

2. The sovereign King’s reign 47:5-9

Verses 7-9

Again he called for praise because the Lord reigns over all nations. He looked ahead in time to see this enthronement. It has not yet taken place, but the psalmist was sure it would happen. The King of the Universe will inevitably rule one day over all, and every knee will bow before Him (Philippians 2:9-11). [Note: See Allen, Rediscovering Prophecy, pp. 217-30.]

As the saints experience discouragement, they can find hope and joy in the fact that, one day, Jesus Christ will subdue all His enemies and rule over all the nations.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 47". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.