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Psalm 47

God’s Rule over the Nations

To the leader. Of the Korahites. A Psalm.


Clap your hands, all you peoples;

shout to God with loud songs of joy.


For the L ord, the Most High, is awesome,

a great king over all the earth.


He subdued peoples under us,

and nations under our feet.


He chose our heritage for us,

the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah



God has gone up with a shout,

the L ord with the sound of a trumpet.


Sing praises to God, sing praises;

sing praises to our King, sing praises.


For God is the king of all the earth;

sing praises with a psalm.



God is king over the nations;

God sits on his holy throne.


The princes of the peoples gather

as the people of the God of Abraham.

For the shields of the earth belong to God;

he is highly exalted.

1. Clap your hands, all ye peoples As the Psalmist requires the nations, in token of their joy and of their thanksgiving; to God, to clap their hands, or rather exhorts them to a more than ordinary joy, the vehemence of which breaks forth and manifests itself by external expressions, it is certain that he is here speaking of the deliverance which God had wrought for them. Had God erected among the Gentiles some formidable kingdom, this would rather have deprived all of their courage, and overwhelmed them with despair, than given them matter to sing and leap for joy. Besides, the inspired writer does not here treat of some common or ordinary blessings of God; but of such blessings as will fill the whole world with incredible joy, and stir up the minds of all men to celebrate the praises of God. What he adds a little after, that all nations were brought into subjection to Israel, must, therefore, necessarily be understood not of slavish subjection, but of a subjection which is more excellent, and more to be desired, than all the kingdoms of the world. It would be unnatural for those who are subdued and brought to submit by force and fear to leap for joy. Many nations were tributary to David, and to his son Solomon; but while they were so, they ceased not, at the same time, to murmur, and bore impatiently the yoke which was imposed upon them, so far were they from giving thanks to God with joyful and cheerful hearts.

Since, then, no servitude is happy and desirable but that by which God subdues and brings under the standard and authority of Christ his Son those who before were rebels, it follows that this language is applicable only to the kingdom of Christ, who is called a high and terrible King, (verse 2;) not that he makes the wretched beings over whom he reigns to tremble by the tyranny and violence of his sway, but because his majesty, which before had been held in contempt, will suffice to quell the rebellion of the whole world. It is to be observed, that the design of the Holy Spirit is here to teach, that as the Jews had been long contumeliously treated, oppressed with wrongs, and afflicted from time to time with divers calamities, the goodness and liberality of God towards them was now so much the more illustrious, when the kingdom of David had subdued the neighboring nations on every sidle, and had attained to such a height of glory. We may, however, easily gather from the connection of the words the truth of what I have suggested, that when God is called a terrible and great King over all the earth, this prophecy applies to the kingdom of Christ. There is, therefore, no doubt, that the grace of God was celebrated by these titles, to strengthen the hearts of the godly during the period that intervened till the advent of Christ, in which not only the triumphant state of the people of Israel had fallen into decay, but in which also the people, being oppressed with the bitterest contumely, could have no taste of the favor of God, and no consolation from it, but by relying on the promises of God alone. We know that there was a long interruption of the splendor of the kingdom of God’s ancient people, which continued from the death of Solomon to the coming of Christ. This interval formed, as it were, a gulf or chasm, which would have swallowed up the minds of the godly, had they not been supported and upheld by the Word of God. As, therefore, God exhibited in the person of David a type of the kingdom of Christ, which is here extolled, although there followed shortly after a sad and almost shameful diminution of the glory of David’s kingdom, then the most grievous calamities, and, finally, the captivity and a most miserable dispersion, which differed little from a total destruction, the Holy Spirit has exhorted the faithful to continue clapping their hands for joy, until the advent of the promised Redeemer.

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