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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Psalms 47

Verse 1



This Psalm may seem to have been composed upon the occasion of that great solemnity of carrying the ark from the house of Obed-edom into the city of Zion; of which see 2Sa 6$ 1Ch 13$ 1Ch 16$. But as Zion was a type of the church, and the ark a type of Christ; so this hath a further reference, even to Christ’s ascension into heaven, and, as consequent thereunto, to the spreading of his kingdom in all the parts and nations of the world; which is the chief scope and design of the psalmist. or at least of the Holy Ghost, in this Psalm; as will plainly appear from the words and matter of it.

The church is exhorted to praise God, who subdueth her enemies, Psalms 47:1-3, and giveth her an excellent inheritance, Psalms 47:4-7. A promise of calling and gathering the Gentiles, Psalms 47:8,9.

All ye people; either,

1. All the tribes of Israel; for the several tribes are sometimes called several people. See Jude 5:14 Ezekiel 2:3 Acts 4:27. Or,

2. All nations, not only Jews, but Gentiles; for all of them either had or might have benefit by the ark, upon their addresses to God there, and especially by Christ and his ascension.

Shout unto God, in the worship and unto the glory of the God of Israel.

Verse 2

Most high is terrible; or, is most high (in himself, above all gods) and (which conjunction is off understood) terrible, to all his enemies.

A great King over all the earth; the universal Monarch of the whole world, and not of Israel only.

Verse 3

Or, he shall lead like sheep; or, bring into the fold; as divers render the word, by comparing Isaiah 5:17 Micah 2:12. He seems to speak of such a subjugation of them, as was for the good of the people subdued, because this is matter of rejoicing to them, Psalms 47:1; which is true both of these people whom David subdued, who thereby had opportunities, obligations, and encouragements to own and worship the true God, which was the only way to their true and lasting happiness; and especially of those Gentiles who were subdued to Christ by the preaching of the gospel. The Gentile converts were in some sort brought under the Jews, because they were subjected to Christ, and to his apostles, and to the primitive church, which were Jews. Or the psalmist may speak this in the name of the whole church, which then were Israelites only, but afterwards were madeup of Jews and Gentiles, unto which all particular believers were to submit themselves in and for the Lord.

Verse 4

He shall choose, i.e. he will appoint and bestow upon us. This verb of the future tense may seem to agree well with the Gentiles, because this blessing was not now present, but future, and so the sense designed by the Holy Ghost may be this: Though at present we are wicked and wretched creatures, and strangers to the commonwealth of Israel, yet there is a time coming wherein God will choose or take us into the number of his children by gracious adoption. But futures are variously rendered; and accordingly the vulgar Latin, Syriac, and Arabic render this word. He hath chosen. The Chaldee renders this and the following words, He will take pleasure in us, so as to give us our inheritance. Our inheritance; either the land of Canaan; or heaven, which was typified by that land; or rather, God himself, who is called his people’s portion or inheritance, as Psalms 16:5 73:26, and elsewhere, or the presence, and worship, and blessing of God. This God had chosen for the Israelites, and resolved to choose or set apart for the Gentiles. The excellency, or glory; wherein Jacob gloried and excelled all other people. See Ezekiel 24:21 Amos 6:8 8:7.

Of Jacob; either,

1. Of the person of Jacob; who, though he never had the possession of the land of Canaan, yet had the Lord, and his presence and blessing, for his inheritance. Or rather,

2. Of the people of Jacob or Israel, who are frequently called Jacob, as Numbers 23:7,10,23 Psa 14:7 44:4, &c., for these did actually enjoy the promised inheritance of Canaan, and the presence of God in his sanctuary.

Whom he loved: this he adds, partly as the reason why he chose such a noble inheritance for them, not for any peculiar worth in them more than in other people, but only for his free love to them, as he declareth, Deuteronomy 7:7,8 9:5; and partly as an evidence of the excellency of this inheritance, because it was chosen for his beloved people.

Verse 5

God is gone up: this is meant literally of the ark, wherein God was present, which went or was carried up to the hill of Zion, where the tabernacle was erected for it, and afterwards to the hill of Moriah into the temple; which solemnity was accompanied with the shouts and acclamations of the people, and with the sound of trumpets: but mystically it respects Christ’s ascension into heaven, as may be gathered by comparing this with Ephesians 4:8, where the like words uttered concerning the ark upon the same occasion, Psalms 68:18, are directly applied to Christ’s ascension.

Verse 6

These words are repeated four times in this verse, to show how vehemently desirous the psalmist was that God might have his due praise and glory; and of how great necessity and importance it was to men to perform this great, though much neglected, duty.

Unto our King; for so he is in a special manner.

Verse 7

The King of all the earth; not only ours, as I now said, but also of all the nations of the world; and therefore he may well require, and doth highly deserve, all our praises.

With understanding; not rashly, or formally and carelessly, but seriously, considering the greatness of this King whom you praise, and what abundant cause you have to praise and admire him; which is an intimation that the matter of this Psalm is more sublime and important than ordinary.

Verse 8

Over the heathen, i.e. over all heathen nations, as being the King of all the earth, Psalms 47:7; which was not true in David’s time, but; was fulfilled by Christ.

God sitteth upon the throne, to wit, as Judge and King, exercising dominion, or reigning, as he now said; this being only another expression of the same thing. And this holy throne is either,

1. The ark, upon which God was said to sit to govern the Israelites. Or rather,

2. Heaven; which is oft called God’s

throne, Psalms 11:4 Isaiah 66:1, whence God is said to behold and to rule all nations; of which general dominion of God he here speaks. And here Christ sits at his Father’s right hand for that purpose.

Verse 9

The princes of the people; either,

1. The heads of the tribes of Israel, who were gathered together to the tabernacle or temple upon solemn feasts. Or rather,

2. The princes (or the voluntary or willing ones, as this word is rendered, Psalms 110:3) of the Gentiles, who are here known by the name of the people, Psalms 47:1,3, who were divided in their principles, and interests, and religions, but are now united and gathered together unto Christ, laying their sceptres at his feet, and jointly owning and promoting his worship and service. So he speaks of the conversion of the Gentiles; although he mentions only their princes, because their conversion might seem to be most difficult in sundry respects, and therefore that being affirmed, the conversion of their people with or after them might very reasonably be supposed.

The people of the God of Abraham; so he explains the former clause, and shows what people he spoke of; and it is observable, he doth not say the people of Abraham, lest this should be appropriated to the Israelites; but

the people of the God of Abraham, i.e. which worship the God of Abraham, whether they be Jews or Gentiles. So this is a prophecy of the conversion of the Gentiles; which also is intimated by the name here used, which is not his old and first name, Abram, but his new name, Abraham, given to him to signify that he should be the father of many nations, Genesis 17:5. Or these words with the former may be, and are by divers learned interpreters, rendered thus: The princes of the people (i.e. of the Gentiles) are (i.e. shall be, as is usual in prophetic style) gathered unto which particle is sometimes understood, as Psalms 5:8 Jeremiah 26:10 Hosea 2:14 the people of the God of Abraham, i.e. unto the Jews, and so both Jews and Gentiles shall be united in one religion; and so God shall reign over the heathen, and be King of all the earth, as is here said, Psalms 47:7,8, and all people shall clap their hands for joy, as it is Psalms 47:1.

The shields of the earth; either,

1. The protection of the people of all the earth. Or rather,

2. Their princes or rulers, who are fitly called shields, Hosea 4:18, because by their office they are or should be the common parents and protectors of all their people, to defend them from all oppressions and injuries. These, saith he, are the Lord’s, i.e. at his disposal, or subject to his dominion, both as to their hearts and kingdoms. And so this is here conveniently added, as the reason of that great and improbable event, foretold in the foregoing words, that the princes of the people (which of all others were the most lofty, and wilful, and incorrigible) should join and subject themselves to the Lord, and to his church.

He is greatly exalted; by this means God shall be greatly glorified, and appear to be far above all the princes of the world, and above all other gods.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 47". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.