PSALM 47 OVERVIEW
Title. To the Chief Musician. Many songs were dedicated to this leader of the chorus, but he was not overloaded thereby. God's service is such delight that it cannot weary us; and that choicest part of it, the singing of his praises, is so pleasurable that we cannot have too much of it. Doubtless, the chief musician, as he was commissioned with so many sacred songs, felt that the more the merrier. A Psalm for the Sons of Korah. We cannot agree with those who think that the sons of Korah were the authors of these Psalms; they have all the indications of David's authorship that one could expect to see. Our ear has grown accustomed to the ring of David's compositions, and we are morally certain that we hear it in this Psalm. Every expert would detect here the autography of the Son of Jesse, or we are greatly mistaken. The Sons of Korah sang these Psalms, but we believe they did not write them. Fit singers were they whose origin reminded them of sin, whose existence was a proof of sovereign grace, and whose name has a close connection with the name of Calvary.
Subject. Whether the immediate subject of this Psalm be the carrying up of the ark from the house of Obededom to Mount Zion, or the celebration of some memorable victory, it would be hard to decide. As even the doctors differ, who should dogmatise? But it is very clear that both the present sovereignty of Jehovah, and the final victories of our Lord, are here fitly hymned, while his ascension, as the prophecy of them, is sweetly gloried in.
Division. In so short a Psalm, there is no need of any other division than that indicated by the musical pause at the end of Psalms 47:4 .
Verse 1. O clap your hands. 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. Our joy in God may be demonstrative, and yet he will not censure it. All ye people. The joy is to extend to all nations; Israel may lead the van, but all the Gentiles are to follow in the march of triumph, for they have an equal share in that kingdom where there is neither Greek nor Jew, but Christ is all and in all. Even now if they did but know it, it is the best hope of all nations that Jehovah ruleth over them. If they cannot all speak the same tongue, the symbolic language of the hands they can all use. All people will be ruled by the Lord in the latter days, and all will exult in that rule; were they wise they would submit to it now, and rejoice to do so; yea, they would clap their hands in rapture at the thought. Shout, let your voices keep tune with your hands. Unto God, let him have all the honours of the day, and let them be loud, joyous, universal, and undivided. With the voice of triumph, with happy sounds, consonant with such splendid victories, so great a King, so excellent a rule, and such happy subjects. Many are human languages, and yet the nations may triumph as with one voice. Faith's view of God's government is full of transport. The prospect of the universal reign of the Prince of Peace is enough to make the tongue of the dumb sing; what will the reality be? Well might the poet of the seasons bid mountains and valleys raise their joyous hymn --
"For the GREAT SHEPHERD reigns,
And his unsuffering kingdom yet will come."
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. Some have applied this Psalm to Christ's ascension; but it speaks of his Second Coming. The Mighty One is seated peacefully on his throne. We are referred back to Psalms 45:1-17 . Andrew A. Bonar.
Verse 1. O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph. This should be done,
- Cheerfully, Clap your hands, for this is a sign of inward joy, Nahum 3:19 .
- Universally: "O clap you hands, all ye people."
- Vocally: Shout unto God with the voice of triumph.
- Frequently: "Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises", Psalms 47:6 ; and again "sing praises", Psalms 47:7 . It cannot be done too frequently.
- Knowingly and discreetly: "Sing ye praises with understanding;" know the reason why ye are to praise him. Adam Clarke.
Verse 1. O clap your hands, etc. Such expressions of pious and devout affection as to some may seem indecent and imprudent, yet ought not to be hastily censured and condemned, much less ridiculed; because if they come from an upright heart, God will accept the strength of the affection, and excuse the weakness of the expressions of it. Matthew Henry.
Verse 1. O clap your hands. The voice of melody is not so much to be uttered with the tongue, as with the hands; that it, it is our deeds not our words, by which God is here to be praised. Even as it was in him whose pattern we are to follow: "Jesus began both to do and to teach." J. M. Neale.
Verse 1. All ye people. Peoples, in the plural. Here it is used to call both Jews and Gentiles -- all nations. William S. Plumer.
Verse 1. Shout unto God. Jubilate Deo: in God, and concerning God, and in honour of God. He does not excite them to carnal joy. Martin Geier.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 1. Unusual and enthusiastic expressions of joy when justifiable and even desirable.
Verse 1-4. Joy the true spirit of worship.
- Joy in God's character.
- In his reign.
- In the triumphs of his gospel.
- In his favour to his saints.
WORKS WRITTEN ABOUT THE FORTY-SEVENTH PSALM IN SPURGEON'S DAY
In the Works of JOHN BOYS, 1626, folio, pp. 931-937, there is an Exposition of this Psalm.