Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 47 – A

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 47

1 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
2 For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.
3 He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet.
4. He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah

Our current psalm is extension of psalm 46, a wonderful psalm speaking of a victory over an enemy. Although the 46th psalm is often thought of in our modern times as a highly personal psalm, providing encouragement in times of difficulty, its purpose initially was to embolden and encourage Israel in facing an enemy nation. Israel was facing a dire threat during the writing of the 46th psalm and many Bible teachers link it with Hezekiah’s confrontation against Assyria.

Considering this possible background, verse 10 takes on a whole new meaning

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

The Israelites literally were still while the Lord took care of 185,000 Assyrians. He was exalted among the nations, not only Egypt in the past, but now over Assyria.

But let us focus on 47, for that is our current Psalm. Many Bible scholars consider Psalm 47 (and 48) to be a continuation of the settings Psalm 46 was penned under, even picking up previous thoughts and topics found earlier. Let us consider this to be accurate and enter into Psalm 47.

The psalmist is instructing all peoples to clap their hands. Peoples? I assumed initially that this term “peoples” must refer to the nation of Israel, since the context seems to speak of a victory over another nation. And yet, psalm 47:3 speaks of the subjugation of “peoples” under us. This is the very same term the psalmist used earlier and makes understanding “peoples” in verse 1 as the Israelites confusing.

So what is going on here? Let me try to explain.

This psalm directs all acts of praise, even acts of praise of those who are subdued to the Lord, the Most High, the Great King. He is not to be considered a god restricted to the land of Israel, as if only the Israelites were allowed to be worshippers, but He is the King of Kings, over all other deities, national leaders, religious systems and cultural arrangements. The psalmist writes of the Lord as being over all, directing all nations (peoples) to rejoice, even if experiencing a crushing defeat as the Assyrians did in Hezekiah’s day. All nations would hear of this act by the Great King, and recall once more that He is the Most High, higher than any of the national deities neighboring peoples bowed down to.

God was alive and active, and provided visible obvious proof of His greatness to not only the nation of Israel, but those who were foolish enough to seek other gods than Him.

It is amazing that many forms of praise are referred to in this psalm, whether it be the clapping of the hands, shouting to God, or singing praises to the Most High. All forms of praise are instructed, and we would do well to remember that restricting a brother to a specific form of praise that we are comfortable with is not wise. When the praise focuses on God (and does not bring undo attention to the one praising), we should join in and give thanks for the manifold ways God provides His people to vent their need to look to Him.

One additional thought regarding the concept of God not being restricted to a certain nation, but that He is over all, is the misdirection we believers sometimes accept in assigning the Lord of heaven as our national defender. He is over all, and as the New Testament witnesses, His “nation” is the organic living church, His body through which He reaches all peoples.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous

With that thought, is it biblical to assume He defends one physical nation against another? That He actively promotes a favored nation over another nation? This condition may have been understood during the days of the theocracy of Israel, but the arrangement of a favored nation has come to an end. Israel, as a physical national theocracy is no more, and the church has the privilege of spreading the truth of His reign throughout all peoples.

Let’s pursue this thought a bit further. Upon what basis can any believer make the claim that his nation is favored over another nation? The Lord is over all the peoples, and for Him “to take sides” in one nation gaining power over another nation seems to be in conflict with the character of our Savior. Dang, He didn’t even get involved in civil matters when one in a crowd asked Him to judge over the inheritance he had received!

Luke 12:13-14 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?”

After all, He is at “war”, not to provide land to some physical nation in order to increase power over others, but in seeking the lost, whether they be American, Chinese, Ukrainian or Russian. His war is to provide healing of the nations, to bring about a peace amongst brothers and to provide unity of the Body.

His war is unlike any we naturally consider, for His war is not against us, but is for us, for our souls.

I imagine that the physical death of any soul due to a physical war, and that a battle’s victory being attributed to Him must break His heart. He has told us that He takes no pleasure in the death of anyone, and to attribute the success of one soul killing another soul to His name must give Him sorrow beyond my comprehension

Ezekiel 18:32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.”

In the second half of the Psalm, we will read of an even greater truth regarding the Lord, that provides further support of Him being over all peoples. This Psalm provides greater reasons to praise His name when looking to Him as being over all peoples, and not simply our little world we want defended, whether national or cultural.

God is much bigger than we imagine, and realizing the greatness of God is of great benefit to the saint. I hope to see you next time, and as you venture through your day, remember He is over all peoples, whether they like it or not, and that our interaction with them needs to reflect that truth.

They are not the enemy!

He is the Lord.

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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