Psalm 47 -

Sing Praises to God

For the director of music.

Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

1Clap your hands, all you nations;

shout to God with cries of joy.

2How awesome is the Lord Most High,

the great King over all the earth!

3He subdued nations under us,

peoples under our feet.

4He chose our inheritance for us,

the pride of Jacob, whom He loved. Selah

5God has ascended amid shouts of joy,

the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets.

6Sing praises to God, sing praises;

sing praises to our King, sing praises.

7For God is the King of all the earth;

sing to Him a psalm of praise.

8God reigns over the nations;

God is seated on His holy throne.

9The nobles of the nations assemble

as the people of the God of Abraham,

For the kings of the earth belong to God;

He is greatly exalted.

This psalm is an exhortation to praise the Lord for His sovereignty over the whole earth, and for the victories He gives His people through that sovereignty. The psalm begins: "Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy" (vs. 1). The first thing to notice is that very few churches on Sunday morning praise the Lord the way the Psalmist is exhorting us to praise Him: loudly, and with great enthusiasm. Some would consider "clapping" oneís hands for God, and "shouting" to Him with "cries of joy", to be indecent, unsophisticated, and even unholy. Those who think such behavior is inappropriate would do well to study the book of Psalms, and note the many places we are exhorted to praise the Lord loudly. When we go to a sports game, and the home team scores a victory, do we not enthusiastically praise the efforts of our team. Why not do the same to praise the great victories of the Lord? "The most natural and most enthusiastic tokens of exultation are to be used in view of the victories of the Lord, and His universal reign" [Spurgeon, 352]. Sadly, we can "clap" and "shout" for our favorite sports teams, but we are called insane fanatics if we get enthusiastic about the Lord, who has done much more for us than our local athletes have.

And indeed, we have much to loudly praise the Lord for. Contrary to the popular belief of the unsaved, Christians have much joy in their lives. "Those are greatly mistaken, who think the religion of Christ furnishes no cause of joy to those, who truly embrace it. In fact, the blessings of the Gospel awaken the strongest and most pleasing emotions of the human heart, and shall yet fill the whole earth with incredible joy. Even of old, the saints had cause of exulting and rapturous delight in the Lord and His ways" [Plumer, 530]. Let us show the world how joyful we are, and how great our God is, by loudly praising Him!

The Psalmist gives reasons to praise Him: "How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth!" (vs. 2). We can praise the Lord because He is "awesome", as the Psalmist says. The word translated here as "awesome" has lost much of its bite, in recent years, through overuse. Many would consider "awesome" to be synonymous with "cool" or "neato". The original word, though, actually is an adjective to describe something that is to be feared greatly. The King James Version translated the word as "terrible" (which is not an appropriate word for us, because the meaning of this word has changed a bit since that translation was made). We would do well, possibly, to translate the word, "terrifying".

And so, the Psalmist gives as the first reason to praise the Lord: "How [terrifying] is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth!" Now, it may seem strange to praise the Lord for being "terrifying", for causing fear. Yet, if you are on His side, you want the Lord to strike fear in His enemies, because His enemies are your enemies.

So, the Lord is "terrifying", and He is also, "the great King over all the earth!" Godís sovereignty extends to all nations (whether they acknowledge it or not). Any nation that turns to Him may receive the blessings He extends to His people. Though the children of Israel make up the chosen nation, yet all who worship Him will be blessed. So, all nations have reason to rejoice in Him. "Neither the prophecies, nor the Gospel confine the blessings of Christís kingdom to the Jews, or to any one tribe of men, but extend them to all peoples" [Plumer, 530].

Moreover, because our Lord is "the great King over all the earth", He has the right and privilege to extend the bounds of His kingdom anywhere on earth. Some on earth, citing cultural reasons, would fault ministers of God for going to foreign lands to preach the Gospel of the True God. But God is "King over all the earth". His Word must not be kept from His subjects, wherever they may dwell. "Christ hath right and just title to erect a church in what country and kingdom He pleaseth, without asking any manís license, and to set up among His subjects the profession of His name, and practice of all His ordinances pertaining to the exercise of religion, in doctrine, worship, and ecclesiastic government of His subjects" [Dickson, 272].

The children of Israel had special reasons to praise Him: "He subdued nations under us, peoples under our feet. He chose our inheritance for us, the pride of Jacob, whom He loved" (vss. 3-4). Godís military victories on their behalf brought them into the promised land, which is their "inheritance". And God (loving Father that He is) also has chosen an inheritance for us. The promised land is symbolic of the inheritance in the kingdom of heaven that we will receive. Praise the Lord!

The next verse pictures God as ascending to His throne, returning to heaven, after His victory over the enemies of His people: "God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets" (vs. 5). What also may be pictured here, if read prophetically, is the ascension of Jesus after His resurrection. Certainly the tumult and joy expressed is worthy of such a significant event, as the ascension takes place "amid shouts of joy" and the "sounding of trumpets".

At this, we are further exhorted to praise the Lord: "Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing to Him a psalm of praise" (vss. 6-7). Sadly, we need repetitive reminders to sing praises. "Strange that we should need so much urging to attend to so heavenly an exercise" [Spurgeon, 354].

Continuing prophetically, the Psalmist looks forward to the time when God will be acknowledged by all the nations as the True and Living God: "God reigns over the nations; God is seated on His holy throne. The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham, for the kings of the earth belong to God; He is greatly exalted" (vss. 8-9). Oh, that that day would come soon, when all the nations bow to Godís rule and reign. "All people will be ruled by the Lord in the latter days, and will exult in that rule; were they wise, they would submit to it now, and rejoice to do so" [Spurgeon, 352].

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