Psalms 47


The Gentiles are invited to celebrate the praises of God as the

Sovereign of the world, 1, 2.

The Jews exalt in his kindness to them, 3, 4.

All then join to celebrate his Majesty, as reigning over the

heathen, and gathering the dispersed Jews and Gentiles together

into one Church, 5-9.


The title, "A Psalm for the sons of Korah," has nothing

remarkable in it. The Psalm was probably written about the same

time with the preceding, and relates to the happy state of the

Jews when returned to their own land. They renewed their praises

and promises of obedience, and celebrate him for the deliverance

they had received. See the introduction to the preceding Psalm.

Ps 46:1 In a spiritual sense, it appears to relate to the

calling of the Gentiles to be made partakers of the blessings of

the Gospel with the converted Jews.

Verse 1. O clap your hands, all ye people] Let both Jews and

Gentiles magnify the Lord: the Jews, for being delivered from the

Babylonish captivity; the Gentiles, for being called to enter

into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

Verse 2. For the Lord most high is terrible] He has insufferable

majesty, and is a great King-the mightiest of all emperors, for he

is Sovereign over the whole earth.

Verse 3. He shall subdue the people under us] He shall do again

for us what he had done for our forefathers-give us dominion over

our enemies, and establish us in our own land. I would rather read

this in the past tense, relative to what God did for their fathers

in destroying the Canaanites, and giving them the promised land

for their possession, and taking the people for his own

inheritance. This is also applied to the conversion of the

Gentiles, who, on the rejection of the Jews, have become his

inheritance; and whom he has chosen to inherit all those spiritual

blessings typified by the sacrifices and other significant rites

and ceremonies of the Jewish Church.

Verse 5. God is gone up with a shout] Primarily, this may refer

to the rejoicing and sounding of trumpets, when the ark was lifted

up to be carried on the shoulders of the Levites. But it is

generally understood as a prophetic declaration of the ascension

of our Lord Jesus Christ; and the shout may refer to the

exultation of the evangelists and apostles in preaching Christ

crucified, buried, risen from the dead, and ascended to heaven,

ever to appear in the presence of God for us. This was the triumph

of the apostles; and the conversion of multitudes of souls by this

preaching was the triumph of the cross of Christ.

Verse 6. Sing praises] zammeru: this word is four

times repeated in this short verse, and shows at once the

earnestness and happiness of the people. They are the words of

exultation and triumph. Feel your obligation to God; express it

in thanksgiving: be thankful, be eternally thankful, to God your


Verse 7. For God is the King of all the earth] He is not your

King only, but the King of the universe. He has no limited power,

no confined dominion.

Sing ye praises with understanding] zammeru maskil,

sing an instructive song. Let sense and sound go together. Let

your hearts and heads go with your voices. Understand what

you sing; and feel what you understand; and let the song be

what will give instruction in righteousness to them that hear it.

[Anglo-Saxon], Sing wisely.-Anglo-Saxon. Multitudes sing


Verse 8. God reigneth over the heathen] Though this is literally

true in God's universal dominion, yet more is here meant. God

reigns over the heathen when, by the preaching of the Gospel,

they are brought into the Church of Christ.

God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness.] He is a holy God;

he proclaims holiness. His laws are holy, he requires holiness,

and his genuine people are all holy. The throne of his holiness is

the heaven of heavens; also the temple at Jerusalem; and, lastly,

the hearts of the faithful.

Verse 9. The princes of the people are gathered together]

nedibey ammim. The voluntary people-the princely,

noble, or free-willed people; those who gladly receive the word of

life; those who, like the Bereans, were of a noble or liberal

disposition; and, when they heard the Gospel, searched the

Scriptures to see whether these things were so. It is a similar

word which is used Ps 110:3; and I believe both texts speak of

the same people-the Gentiles who gladly come unto his light, and

present themselves a free-will offering to the Lord.

The people of the God of Abraham] Who were Abraham's people? Not

the Jews; the covenant was made with him while yet in

urcircumcision. Properly speaking, the Gentiles are those whom

he represented; for the covenant was made with him while yet a

Gentile; and in his seed all the nations-the Gentiles, of the

earth were to be blessed. The people of the God of Abraham are the

Gentiles, who, receiving the Gospel, are made partakers of the

faith of Abraham, and are his spiritual children. The God of

Abraham has Abraham's spiritual posterity, the believing Gentiles,

for his own people.

The shields of the earth belong unto God.] The Septuagint

translate this οικραταιοι, the strong ones of the earth. The

Vulgate reads, Quoniam dii fortes terrae vehementer elevati

sunt; "Because the strong gods of the earth are exceedingly

exalted." These are supposed to mean kings and rulers of provinces

which were present at the dedication of the temple; (for some

suppose the Psalm to have been composed for this solemnity;) and

that they are said here to be greatly exalted, because they

exercised a very high degree of power over their respective

districts. The words refer to something by which the inhabitants

of the earth are defended; God's providence, guardian angels, &c.,


He is greatly exalted.] Great as secular rulers are, God is

greater, and is above all; King of kings and Lord of lords; and

the hearts of kings and governors are in his hand; and he turns

them whithersoever he pleases.


This Psalm, under the figure of the ark being brought into the

temple, foretells the ascension of Christ to heaven; who was the

true ark of the covenant, and the propitiatory or mercy-seat. It

contains a prophecy of Christ's kingdom, and has two especial


First, An invitation to sing praises to Christ.

Secondly, The reasons why we should do it.

1. The ascension of Christ is typified under the ark's

ascension, Ps 47:1: "God is gone up with a shout; the Lord with

the sound of a trumpet."

2. On which he invites the people to do now what was then done,

"that we clap our hands, and sing praises." This should be done,

1. Cheerfully: "Clap your hands;" for this is a sign of inward

joy, Na 3:19. 2. Universally: "O clap your hands, all ye people."

3. Vocally: "Shout unto God with the voice of triumph." 4.

Frequently: "Sing praises-sing praises-sing praises-sing praises,"

Ps 47:6, and again "sing praises," Ps 47:7. It cannot be done

too frequently. 5. Knowingly and discreetly: "Sing ye praises with

understanding;" know the reason why ye are to praise him.

3. Now these reasons are drawn from his greatness and from his


1. He is GREAT. 1. He is the Lord Most High; 2. He is terrible;

3. He is a great King over all the earth. All power, at his

ascension, was given unto him in heaven and earth.

2. He is GOOD. 1. In collecting his Church by subduing the

nations, not by the sword, but by his word and Spirit, by which he

would subdue their iniquities, the iniquity of the Jew first, and

then of the Gentile; for the law was to come out of Zion, and the

word of the Lord from Jerusalem. To the discipline of that

religion both were to submit; and therefore both might well be

said "to be subdued to us, and brought under our feet."

2. In honouring and rewarding his Church: "He shall choose out

our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved."

1. His Church was his choice: "It is a chosen generation, a

peculiar people."

2. His heritage; for he will dwell among them, and provide an

inheritance for them; blessings on earth and glory in heaven.

3. This is "the excellency of Jacob;" of Jacob after the Spirit;

the kingdom, priesthood, and all the promises made unto Jacob and

the fathers being theirs.

4. The cause: "His love only-he chose-the excellency of Jacob

whom he loved."

3. In the increase and amplification of his Church: "God is now

the king of all the earth;" not of the Jews only, for he "reigns

over the heathen" also. He "sits upon a throne of holiness;" rules

by his holy word and Spirit. 1. Making them holy who were unholy.

2. They are "a willing people" also. For the princes-the

volunteers, among the people, are gathered together; even the

people of the God of Abraham-the Gentiles, converted and

reconciled to God.

4. In protecting his Church; whether by himself, or by the

princes he raises up; by his providence, or his angels, or all

together. For the "shields of the earth belong unto God." Secular

rulers, and ecclesiastical governors, are shields of the Church.

But God is the Head of it, and the Chief: "He is greatly exalted."

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