‘For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.’
See introduction to part 2.
The Psalm divides easily into two as indicated by ‘Selah’. The first half describes Who and What God is as YHWH Most High, King over all the earth, and the One Who has chosen out, and acted on behalf of, His people in the past. The second half has in mind the acclamation of YHWH as a result of the signal deliverance that He has wrought for His people, which has demonstrated His worldwide Kingship and glory, and has resulted in the nations of the world acknowledging His Kingship and becoming His people too. It is a depiction of God as Lord over all, and is a foretaste of God’s final triumph in Christ.
The Nations Are Called On To Salute YHWH Most High As The Great King Over All The Earth Who Has Established His People In The Choicest Of Lands (Psalms 47:1-4)..
Oh clap your hands, all you peoples,
Shout to God with the voice of triumph.
For YHWH Most High is terrible,
He is a great King over all the earth.
The clapping of hands and the shouts of acclamation were the means by which peoples normally acknowledged their great king and overlord. Here then they are called on to acknowledge YHWH Most High, the great King over all the earth, in the same way, because of His recent triumph. For thereby He had revealed His awesome power.
The description is in direct contrast with the title that Sennacherib claimed for himself as ‘the great king’ (Isaiah 35:4). YHWH had now put Sennacherib firmly in his place demonstrating Who really was the Great King (compare Psalms 46:4; Psalms 48:2), YHWH Most High. His worldwide dominion has been demonstrated.
Here then His people are to clap their hands and shout in triumph because He has come down and wrought a mighty deliverance and is now returning to His heavenly abode, having achieved the victory.
We also should clap our hands and shout in triumph as we consider how our Lord Jesus Christ came down and wrought our deliverance, and has now ascended into Heaven as the great Victor, and as our everlasting King, having commenced His rule over the earth (Matthew 28:18; Acts 2:36) even though many are still in rebellion against Him. That kingship will be even more firmly established wen He commences to reign over His people in the heavenly kingdom (on the new earth in which dwells righteousness - 2 Peter 3:13) at His second coming.
‘He subdued peoples under us,
And nations under our feet.
He chose our inheritance for us,
The glory of Jacob whom he loved.’ [Selah
And that worldwide dominion that is His, and has now been demonstrated, had already been previously demonstrated by the fact that in earlier times He had subdued peoples under Israel, and had brought nations under their feet. He had done it when Israel had entered Canaan in order to take their inheritance. Indeed it was He Who had chosen that inheritance for them, that choicest of lands in which they gloried as the people (Jacob) whom He loved (compare Deuteronomy 7:6-8). And it was He Who had enabled them to possess it.
Note their recognition that it was because He had chosen to love them that they had experienced His salvation and blessing. It had not been their doing. It had been all of His goodness. And the same is true of us as the people of God today. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:9-10), and He has given us a glorious inheritance (Ephesians 1:11; Ephesians 1:14; 1 Peter 1:4), because He chose us in Christ before the world began (Ephesians 1:4).
The Psalmist Sees YHWH As Having Received His Acclamation As King Over All The Earth And Over All Peoples (Psalms 47:5-9).
In this second part of the Psalm we are introduced to the triumph ceremony following the defeat and humiliation of Sennacherib and the Assyrian army. We are probably to see that the Ark of the Covenant of YHWH (suitably covered) has been brought out of the Holy of Holies and is now leading a great procession up the Mount back into the Temple, accompanied by clapping, shouting and singing, and this as a portrayal of His own rise to heaven after having gloriously come down and disposed of the enemy.
It is probable that representatives of the nations round about who had seen the humiliation of Sennacherib had come to Jerusalem and were joining with them in the ceremony. (Hezekiah had been one of the leaders in a coalition against Assyria). They too were grateful for what had been wrought by Israel’s God (compare 2 Chronicles 20:29).
‘God is gone up with a shout,
YHWH with the sound of a ram’s horn.
Sing praise to God, sing praises,
Sing praises to our King, sing praises.’
As the Ark, the symbol of God’s earthly presence, is borne triumphantly upwards towards the Temple, it is seen as depicting the greater reality of YHWH returning to His heavenly throne having dealt with the Assyrians (compare Psalms 68:18; 1 Kings 8:27). The shouting and the blowing of the ram’s horns greet His victory, while the people are called on to sing praises to Him as their God and King. It is bringing home their recognition of the supreme Sovereignty of God as Lord over both Heaven and earth.
‘For God is the King of all the earth,
Sing you praises with understanding.
God reigns over the nations,
God sits upon his holy throne.’
And this is moreso because He has now unquestionably proved Himself to be the King of all the earth. (Who else could have defeated the Great King of Assyria who ruled over ‘all the earth’?). Thus as they praise they are to understand the significance of what they are doing. They are to see that they are praising the One Who reigns over the nations, and Who sits on His holy throne, both in Heaven and on earth.
When Jesus came to His disciples after His resurrection and declared that ‘all authority has been given to Me in Heaven and on earth’ (Matthew 28:18) He was revealing the same, and it represented an even greater victory, which we too should constantly celebrate with clapping and shouting and singing, and the blowing of trumpets (see Acts 2:32-36; Ephesians 1:19-22; 1 Peter 3:22; Hebrews 1:3).
‘The princes of the peoples are gathered together,
To be the people of the God of Abraham,
For the shields of the earth belong to God,
He is greatly exalted.’
As they looked at the nations from round about who had gathered with them to celebrate the victory it must have brought to mind the great promises of Isaiah about the nations submitting at His feet. And they saw in this a portrayal of that day when the peoples of the nations would become the people of the God of Abraham, through whom all nations would be blessed (Genesis 12:3). And they knew that that day was inevitable. For what God had done had demonstrated that the shields of the earth belonged to Him. It had demonstrated His great exaltation.
Today as we look around and see how His true church has become established around the world, how much more should we be shouting His praise as His conquest of the nations continues as a result of His even greater victory gained at the cross. For He has truly gathered men from the nations of the world, and is still doing so, in order that they might be the people of the God of Abraham (Galatians 3:29; Galatians 6:16; Romans 11:16-24; Ephesians 2:11-22; 1 Peter 2:9; James 1:1).
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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 47". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Easter