July 26th 2020 – Psalm 47

"To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.

 Clap your hands, all peoples!
    Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared,
    a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us,
    and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us,
    the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah

God has gone up with a shout,
    the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
    Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
    sing praises with a psalm!

God reigns over the nations;
    God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of the peoples gather
    as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
    he is highly exalted!"

Psalm 47

The scholars have a great deal to say about this Psalm, calling it one of the Enthronement Psalms sung at the commencement of the feast of tabernacles, when the kingship of Jehovah was proclaimed. One can certainly see the force of this, for that Feast celebrated the deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt. And the deliverance from Sennacherib is sufficiently like that to make common ground for the two occasions. The scholars rightly point out that there is a prophetic and eschatological element present in the Psalm and in others like it. They look forward to the final triumph of God at the end of history. The ascension of God to His throne - seen by them in every fresh deliverance He wrought for His people - was to them a foretaste and an anticipation of the great Day of God, spoken of also by the prophets, when His sovereignty would be established visibly and forever more. This is the force and point of the picture in 8ff - God sitting on His holy throne, before which the princes of the people are gathered together. God becomes all in all. This background is the key to the Christian interpretation and use of the Psalm, for it looks forward to the Christian message, in which the Old Testament prophetic hope is fulfilled and consummated. But, although in the ultimate sense it is fulfilled and consummated in the coming of Christ to reign at the end of the age, the Psalm points also to something else, namely that by which the final consummation is sealed and assured, the ascension and exaltation of Christ, when His mediatorial work was accomplished. This is something of the greatest importance for our thinking: what we must realise is the victory of God in the vindication of His people, the deliverance he wrought for them - this was an historical experience in olden time because it was to become uniquely and decisively historical in the work of Christ. All interventions of God take their validity from the unique, once-for-all intervention in the cross and resurrection of Christ. This is why the words in 5 irresistibly remind us of the ascension of Christ; and they do so because the victory in the Psalmist's experience was a reflection, an adumbration, of His exaltation and victory.