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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.

9 The princes of the peoples are gathered together. The Psalmist enriches and amplifies by various expressions the preceding sentence. He again declares that the way in which God obtained dominion over the Gentiles was, that those who before were aliens united in the adoption of the same faith with the Jews; and thus different nations, from a state of miserable dispersion, were gathered together into one body. When the doctrine of the Gospel was manifested and shone forth, it did not remove the Jews from the covenant which God had long before made with them. On the contrary, it has rather joined us to them. As then the calling of the Gentiles was nothing else than the means by which they were grafted and incorporated into the family of Abraham, the prophet justly states, that strangers or aliens from every direction were gathered together to the chosen people, that by such an increase the kingdom of God might be extended through all quarters of the globe. On this account Paul says, (Ephesians 3:6,) that the Gentiles were made one body with the Jews, that they might be partakers of the everlasting inheritance. By the abolition of the ceremonies of the Mosaic economy, “the middle wall of partitions” which made a separation between the Jews and the Gentiles, is now removed, (Ephesians 2:14;) but it nevertheless remains true, that we are not accounted among the children of God unless we have been grafted into the stock of Abraham. The prophet does not merely speak of the common people: he also tells us that princes themselves will regard it as the height of their felicity to be gathered together with the Jews; as we shall see in another psalm, (Psalm 87:5,)

“And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her.”

Farther, it is said that this gathering together will be to the people of the God of Abraham, to teach us that it is not here meant to attribute to the Jews any superiority which they naturally possess above others, but that all their excellence depends upon this, that the pure worship of God flourishes among them, and that they hold heavenly doctrine in high estimation. This, therefore, is not spoken of the bastard or cast-off Jews, whom their own unbelief has cut off from the Church. But as, according to the statement of the Apostle Paul, (Romans 11:16,) the root being holy, the branches are also holy, it follows that the falling away of the greater part does not prevent this honor from continuing to belong to the rest. Accordingly, the “consumption” which, as is stated in the prophecy of Isaiah, overflowed the whole earth, is called the people of the God of Abraham, (chapter 10:22, 23.) This passage contains two very important and instructive truths. In the first place, we learn from it, that all who would be reckoned among the children of God ought to seek to have a place in the Church, and to join themselves to it, that they may maintain fraternal unity with all the godly; and, secondly, that when the unity of the Church is spoken of, it is to be considered as consisting in nothing else but an unfeigned agreement to yield obedience to the word of God, that there may be one sheepfold and one Shepherd. Moreover, those who are exalted in the world in respect of honors and riches, are here admonished to divest themselves of all pride, and willingly and submissively to bear the yoke in common with others, that they may show themselves the obedient children of the Church.

What follows immediately after, The shields of the earth are God’s, is understood by many as spoken of princes. 189189     Magistrates and governors are called shields in Hosea 4:18; Psalm 89:19. In this sense the word is here understood by the Septuagint. I admit that this metaphor is of frequent occurrence in Scripture, nor does this sense seem to be unsuitable to the scope of the passage. It is as if the prophet had said, It is in the power of God to ingraft into his Church the great ones of the world whenever he pleases; for he reigns over them also. Yet the sense will be more simple if we explain the words thus: That, as it is God alone who defends and preserves the world, the high and supreme majesty, which is sufficient for so exalted and difficult a work as the preservation of the world, is justly looked upon with admiration. The sacred writer expressly uses the word shields in the plural number, for, considering the various and almost innumerable dangers which unceasingly threaten every part of the world, the providence of God must necessarily interpose in many ways, and make use, as it were, of many bucklers.

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