July 25th 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 thought of this Psalm follows on from that of Psalm 46, and particularly its closing verses, which speak of God being exalted among the heathen and in the earth. Now we see the implications of that, namely the establishment of the divine sovereignty and the completion of His work and the necessary rejoicing that follows the realisation of this. The message of the Psalm in itself is therefore simple: 'Clap your hands, all ye people' (1), not merely applauding God, but delighting and exulting in Him. There is, in fact, a deeper dimension in the Psalm but we look at it first of all at its face value, and learn some simple lessons. The people have just seen a great vindication by God in the defeat and rout of their enemies, and it is this that explains the note of triumph in 1, 2. This manifestation of His triumph gives them - and us - great assurance of continuing and complete victory: 'God hath made His saints victorious' (3). Furthermore (4), such a God is One to whom we can well and safely entrust the disposal of our earthly lot. We can leave ourselves in His hands. He knows best. Also, we should particularly note the phrase in 7 'Sing ye praises with understanding' - that is, grasping the significance of why we are praising at all will transform our praises. This is what explains the 'spirit' in some congregational singing: when people sing from the heart, feeling what they sing and knowing why they are singing, it charges and invests the praise with a dynamic. God is in it. He inhabits the praises of Israel! This much we can glean from even a cursory reading of the Psalm. But we need to study it more closely, and we shall do in the next Note.