This Psalm stirs us up to praise God: publicly, cheerfully, and intelligently. We have been furnished with all reason for praise. God’s majesty, His sovereign and universal dominion, the great things He had done, and will do for His people. It looks to the ascension of Christ into the heavenly Zion, after He had finished His mission on earth. This Psalm teaches us to give honour to the exalted Redeemer and to confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. God is King over all the Earth.
Psalm 47 – God is King over all the Earth
Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. For the Lord Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth. He subdued nations under us, peoples under our feet. He chose our inheritance for us, the pride of Jacob, whom He loved. God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets. 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. 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.
Henry says – The Psalmist, having his own heart filled with great and good thoughts of God, endeavours to engage all about him in the work of praise. He is convinced that God is worthy of all blessing and praise, and is grieved at his own and others’ backwardness to and barrenness in it. All are called to praise God: “All you people, all you people of Israel.” These were under his charge, and therefore he will engage them to praise God, for on them he has an influence. Whatever others do, he and his house, he and his people, shall praise the Lord.
Make all around you hear
However it states, “All you people and nations of the earth,” and so it can be taken as a prophecy of the conversion of the Gentiles and the bringing of them into the church. (Rom. 15:11 Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol Him). “O clap your hands, in token of your own joy and satisfaction of what God has done for you. For your admiration, of what God has done in general, and of your indignation against all the enemies of God’s glory, (Job 27:23 It claps its hands at Him and hisses at Him from its place).
Clap your hands, as men transported with pleasure, who cannot contain themselves. Shout to God, not to make Him hear (His ear is not deaf), but to make all around you hear, and take notice of how much you are affected and filled with the works of God. Shout with the voice of triumph in Him, and in His power and goodness, that others may join with you in the triumph.” Such expressions of pious and devout affections may seem indecent and ought not to be hastily condemned, much less ridiculed. If they come from an upright heart, God will accept the strength of the affection and excuse the weakness of the expressions of it.
He is a Great King
God is a God of awful majesty (Ps. 47:2): The Lord most high is terrible. He is infinitely above the noblest creatures, higher than the highest. There are those perfections in Him that are to be reverenced by all. In particular that power, holiness and justice are to be dreaded by all those who contend with Him. He is a God of sovereign and universal dominion. He is a King who reigns alone, and with an absolute power, a King over all the earth. All the creatures, being made by Him, are subject to Him, and therefore He is a Great King, the King of kings.
He takes a particular care of His people and their concerns, He has done and ever will do. He gives them victory and success (Ps. 47:3) and subdues the people and nations under them. He subdues those who stand in their way (Ps. 44:2) and those who make attempts upon them. This God had done for them, such as in the planting of them in Canaan, and their continuance there unto this day. They did not doubt that He would do this for them by His servant David. For he prospered whichever way he turned his victorious arms.
But this looks forward to the Kingdom of the Messiah, which was to be set over all the earth, and not confined to the Jewish nation. Jesus Christ shall subdue the Gentiles. He shall bring them in as sheep into the fold, not for slaughter, but for preservation. Their affections shall be subdued, and He shall make them a willing people in the day of His power. He shall bring their thoughts into obedience to Him, and receive those who have gone astray, under the guidance of the great shepherd and bishop of souls, 1 Pet. 2:25.
It is a godly heritage
In giving them rest and settlement (Ps. 47:4): He shall choose our inheritance for us. He had chosen the land of Canaan to be an inheritance for Israel. It was the land which the Lord their God spied out for them, see Deut. 32:8. This justified their possession of that land, and gave them a good title which sweetened their enjoyment of it. They had reason to think it was a happy lot, and were satisfied with it, for it was what Infinite Wisdom had chosen for them. And the setting up of God’s sanctuary in it made it the excellency, the honour, of Jacob (Amos 6:8).
He chose such a good inheritance for Jacob because He loved Him, (Deut. 7:8 but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that He swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery). Applied spiritually it speaks of the happiness of the saints, that God Himself has chosen their inheritance for them, and it is a goodly heritage. He has chosen it who knows the soul, and what will serve to make that soul happy. He has chosen so well that He Himself has undertaken to be the inheritance of His people (Ps. 16:5).
He has laid up for them an inheritance incorruptible in the next world, 1 Pet. 1:4. Because He loved them, He has prepared such a happiness that eyes have not seen. “God shall choose my inheritance for me. Let Him appoint me my lot, for that I will accept. He knows what is good for me better than I do for myself, and therefore I will have no will of my own but what is resolved into His.” This is the language of every gracious soul.
Sing with understanding
We are most earnestly urged to praise God, and to sing His praises. We are so backward in this duty that we have need to be urged to it. (Ps. 47:6): Sing praises to God, and again, Sing praises, Sing praises to our King, and again, Sing praises. This intimates that it is a very necessary and excellent duty, that it is a duty we ought to be frequent and abundant in. We may sing praises again and again in the same words, and it is no vain repetition if it be done with new affections. Should not a people praise their God? God is our God, our King, and therefore we must praise Him.
But here is a needful rule (Ps. 47:7): Sing you praises with understanding. “Intelligently, as those who understand why and for what reasons you praise God and what is the meaning of it.” This is the gospel-rule (1 Cor. 14:15), to sing with the spirit and with the understanding also. It is only with the heart that we make melody to the Lord, Eph. 5:19. We are to desire to make others understand God’s glorious perfections, and to teach them to praise Him.”
He led captivity captive
Three things are mentioned in these verses as reasons for our praises. We must praise God going up (Ps. 47:5): God has gone up with a shout, which may refer to the carrying up of the ark to the hill of Zion. David himself danced before it, the priests, it is likely, blowed the trumpets, and the people followed with their loud cheers. The ark was the token of God’s special presence with them. However it can also be applied to the ascension of our Lord Jesus into heaven, when He had finished His work on earth, (Acts 1:9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight).
Then God went up with a shout, the shout of a King, of a conqueror, as one who having spoiled principalities and powers, then led captivity captive, Ps. 68:18. He went up as a Mediator, typified by the ark and the mercy-seat over it, and was brought as the ark was into the most holy place, into heaven itself. (Heb. 9:24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf). At the ascension of Christ we do not read of a shout, or of the sound of a trumpet, but the sons of God of the upper world shouted for joy, (Job 38:7 when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy).
He is King of all the earth
And He shall come again in the same manner as He went (Acts 1:11) and we are sure that He shall come again with a shout and the sound of a trumpet. God is not only our King who we owe our homage to, but He is the King of all the earth (Ps. 47:7). He is over all the kings of the earth and so in every place the incense of praise is to be offered up to Him. God, as Creator, and the God of nature, reigns over the heathen, disposes of them and all their affairs, as He pleases, though they do not know Him, nor have any regard for Him. He sits upon the throne of His holiness, which He has prepared in the heavens, and there He rules over all, even over the heathen, serving His own purposes by them.
All are born within His allegiance, even the heathen who serve other gods are ruled by the true God, our God, whether they want it or not. He sits upon a throne of holiness from where He gives warrants, orders and judgment, in which we are sure there is no iniquity. Jesus Christ, who is God, and whose throne is forever and ever reigns over the heathen. He is not only entrusted with the administration of the providential kingdom, but He shall set up the Kingdom of His grace in the Gentile world. He shall rule in the hearts of multitudes who were brought up in heathenism. (Eph. 2:12, 13 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world).
He turns the hearts of kings
This the apostle speaks of as a great mystery that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, Eph. 3:6. Christ sits upon the throne of His holiness. His throne in the heavens. It is where all the administrations of His government are intended to show God’s holiness and to advance holiness among the children of men. We must praise God as the princes of the people are honoured Ps. 47:9. It was the honour of Israel that they were the people of the God of Abraham, as they were Abraham’s seed and taken into His covenant. Thanks be to God, this blessing of Abraham has come upon the isles of the Gentiles, (Gal. 3:14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith).
It was their happiness that they had a settled government, princes of their people, who were the shields of their land. Sound ruling authority is the shield of a nation, and it is a great mercy to any people to have this shield. This especially so when their princes, their shields, belong to the Lord, are devoted to His honour, and their power is employed in His service, for then He is greatly exalted. It is likewise the honour of God that the shields of the earth do belong to Him. Ruling authority is His institution, and He serves His own purposes by it in the government of the world. He turns the hearts of kings as the rivers of water, wherever He pleases.
Your people shall be willing
It was well with Israel when the princes of their people gathered together to consult for public welfare. The unanimous agreement of governments of nations in the things that pertain to its peace is a very happy omen. It has a promise of an abundance of blessings. This may be applied to the calling of the Gentiles into the church of Christ. It can be taken as a prophecy that in the days of the Messiah. The kings of the earth and their people will join themselves to the church. They will bring their glory and power into the New Jerusalem. They should all become the people of the God of Abraham, to whom it was promised that He would be the father of many nations.
In Ps. 110:3 it reads Your people shall be willing. Those who are gathered to Christ are not forced, but made freely willing, to be His. The shields of the earth are the emblems of royal dignity (1 Kgs. 14:27-28 King Rehoboam made… shields of bronze, and committed them to the hands of the officers of the guard, who kept the door of the king’s house. And as often as the king went into the house of the Lord, the guard carried them and brought them back to the guardroom). These shields shall be surrendered to the Lord Jesus, just as the keys of a city are presented to the conqueror or sovereign. When princes use their power for the advancement of the interests of faith, then Christ is greatly exalted.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Marks of the Kingdom Rejoice in My glad acceptance Of the offerings you bring. Is there still something too precious to you? Would you withhold from Me anything? Come out from among them and be separate Is My command for you too demanding? Today in life and work, in love and service My children must be out-standing. I called a peculiar people To make known My name. My followers must be willing to be ‘fools’ for My sake, Was My servant Paul’s claim. My glory and My Kingdom are to be served. Would you choose the world’s ways, Me to deny? Instead be ready to stand aside and let the fashions And customs of the world pass by. By the marks that distinguish those of My Kingdom You are to be known. Be ready to confess Me before men, I desire only that you become fully grown. In My love, forsake all others That you remain Counting all things as loss So that in your lives, Me you gain. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer for the Day
Prayer: Father, I come to You. You have furnished us with all good reason for praise. Your majesty, Your sovereign and universal dominion, the great things You have done, and will do for Your people. I will exalt the Redeemer and confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
You are worthy of all blessing and praise. Forgive our backwardness and barrenness in our praises. May I declare Your praises with shouts of joy that others around me hear, and take notice of how much I am affected and filled with Your works. You are a God of sovereign and universal dominion. You reign with an absolute power, a King over all the earth. All the creatures are made by You and are subject to You, and therefore You are a Great King, the King of all kings. Thank You that You take particular care of Your people and their concerns. It is You who gives us victory and success. You subdue those who stand in our way. Jesus Christ shall subdue the Gentiles and bring them in as sheep into the fold, not for slaughter, but for preservation.
Subdue our affections
Lord subdue our affections, and make us a willing people today and in the day of Your power. Bring our thoughts into obedience to You, and call back those who have gone astray. Thank You that Your Word confirms that You love me. You have kept Your promises and brought me out with a mighty hand and redeemed me from the house of slavery. I am happy in You for You have chosen my inheritance for me, and it is a goodly heritage. Appoint for me my lot, for that I will accept. You know what is good for me better than I do for myself. Therefore I will have no will of my own but what is resolved into Yours.
I will sing praises to You. It is a very necessary and excellent duty, that I ought to be frequent and abundant in. You are my God, my King, and therefore I will praise You. May I sing with the spirit and with the understanding also. I desire to make others understand Your glorious perfections, and to teach them to praise You also.
I know that Christ will come again with a shout and the sound of a trumpet. His throne is forever and ever. He shall set up the Kingdom of His grace in the Gentile world. He shall rule in the hearts of the multitudes. Let holiness be advanced in me and among the children of men. Cause me and Your people to be made freely willing to be Yours. And we pray that the governing authorities of our nation use their power for the advancement of the interests of faith in Christ. That He be greatly exalted in this land. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.