Shout for Joy!
(H) For the director of the choir, of the sons of Korah, a psalm. (1) Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with the voice of joy, (2) for Yahweh, the Most High, (is) to be feared, the great king over all the earth! (3) He subdued peoples under us and nations under our feet. (4) He has chosen for us our inheritance, the pride of Jacob whom he loves. (Selah) (5) God has ascended with a shout, Yahweh, with the blast of the shofar. (6) Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises, (7) for God (is) king of all the earth! Sing praises with a maskil (a psalm)! (8) God reigns over the nations. God sits on his holy throne. (9) The princes of the peoples assemble as the people of the God of Abraham, for the shields of the earth belong to God. He is highly exalted.
Several repetitions help reveal the message of this psalm: three uses of “peoples” (vss. 1, 3, & 9), three times “all the earth” (vss. 2, 7, & 9), two uses of “nations” (vss. 3 & 8), two occurrences of “the king over all the earth” (vss. 2 & 7), and the descriptions of God as high and exalted (vss. 2, 5, & 8). The psalmist moves from a general call to praise (vss. 1 & 2) to a more specific reason for praise, Israel’s favored status as God’s beloved people (vss. 3 & 4). He completes the psalm with a description of the praise all nations will one day offer to our great God (vss. 5-9).
Why all nations should offer praise to God:
- for who he is, Yahweh Most High (present) (1 & 2)
- for what he has done in choosing to bless Israel (past) (3 & 4)
- for his universal rule when all will praise him (future) (5-9)
Let God be praised universally as the one who chose Israel in the past and who will bless all nations in the future.
Ogden Nash, an American poet famous for his pithy verses, characterized Israel’s identity with just a few apt words: “How odd of God to choose the Jews.” Why would God choose specifically to bless the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Moses provided one answer in a sermon to the nation: “The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh, king of Egypt” (Dt. 7:7 & 8).
While God did choose the Jews for his special purposes, it was never his intention to forget the other peoples of the world. In fact, he determined to bless all nations through his chosen people right from the start just as he told Abraham: “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen. 12:3). This is what Psalm 47 implies when it declares: “The princes of the peoples assemble as the people of the God of Abraham” (vs. 9). Note the phrasing: “the peoples” have become “the people of the God of Abraham.” In that future day when God reigns over all the earth, all nations will experience that special relationship with God which Israel has experienced since the days of Abraham embodied in the phrase, “You will be my people, and I will be your God” (Ez. 36:28).
Today that special relationship belongs to all who have trusted in Israel’s Messiah as Savior just as Paul taught: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away (Gentiles) have been brought near (with the Jews) through the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13). For those who enjoy this special relationship with God in the Son, there can only be one response, the kind of joyous, uninhibited worship described in Psalm 47.