The battle is won, let’s party — Psalm 47

Psalms of the Sons of Korah

In the last psalm,Psalm 46, verse 10 says, “be still and know that I am God.” Two verses later Psalm 47:1 says, “Shout to God. Why this contrast? My thought is that Psalms 46 and 47 are companion psalms.

Hands raised in praise to God.
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The books of Psalms are roughly themed like this:

Book 1: Psalms 1 – 41: God is beside us.
Book 2: Psalms 42 – 72: God goes before us
Book 3: Psalms 73 – 89: God is all around us.
Book 4: Psalms 90 – 106: God is above us.
Book 5: Psalms 107 – 150: God is among us.

Psalms 42, 44–49, 84, 85, 87 and 88 are attributed to the Sons of Korah. Korah, was a cousin of Moses and Arron who led a revolt against Moses: Korah died in the rebellion. His three sons were named as singers in the Tabernacle and their offspring in the Temple. The sons of Korah who wrote these psalms are descended from Korah’s sons, not necessarily the sons themselves.

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.

Clap your hands, all peoples!
    Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared,
    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 Lord 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 reigns 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!

Psalm 47 ESV UK

Three psalms, 47, 49 and 85 have the same Hebrew title,given here in English as, “To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.” They also have the same structure, The subjects are introduced and then developed in the same order.

Psalm 47 is structured like this:

v. 1 – v. 5
v. 2 – vv. 6-7
v. 3 – v. 8
v. 4 – v. 9a

This is the opposite of the A, B, B’, A’ structure of Psalm 46, but the two are linked. They are both Messianic psalms, the former about the final conflict when the Messiah comes to reign to Earth, the second is an enthronement psalm for the King Messiah. The battle is won, let’s party!

As a Christian I look at all scripture, even the Old Testament through the lens of Jesus, to whom all of scripture points. As an autistic I look for patterns in things. Normally when looking at scripture I will keep it in its original order, I’m changing the order of the verses here because it helps to highlight the meaning which is there when the psalm is read in the original order. The fist four verses are about Jewish expectations, the second about how God’s victory will be. It starts off with both being the same, by the end of the psalm there is a big contrast.

The first group:

Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! — God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.

In the second half of verse 1 and the first half of verse 5 The word translated God is Elohim and both contain a shout. The other halves of these verses also have noise, applause and trumpets. A simple start, but it builds from here

The second group:

For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth — 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!

Verses 6 and 7 have the phrase sing praises five times, verse 2 has the equivalent of God is to be feared, why this development from fear to praise? It is to do with the nations or peoples, as we shall see in the next section.

The third group:

3 He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet. — 8 God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.

Two verses about the nations. Verse 8 has God reigning as king over the nations, a development from the Jews having the people under them and under their feet as if they make up the throne. Any ruling over people is done in God’s authority. The victory of the Jews, God’s people is contrasted here with Gods final victory.

The fourth group:

He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah — The princes of the peoples gather
    as the people of the God of Abraham.

Here comes the twist at the end. The Jewish expectation is that Israel would rule as the people of God. But the psalm does say Israel, the father of the nation, but Jacob, Israel’s name before he was transformed. The contrast here is great. Jacob who God loves is not in verse 9, the parallel passage. The people of the God of Abraham here are not the blood descendants of Jacob, they are untransformed. People who are not transformed do not inherit God’s kingdom, this goes to the princes of the people, people from all nations who have been transformed by God.

The conclusion:

For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted!

It’s not about parentage.

God’s kingdom belongs to those who God transforms. I mentioned above that this is a Messianic psalm and it is God’s son Jesus Christ (Christ is Greek for Messiah, both words mean anointed) who has won the victory and has already won the victory over evil. Jesus Christ the victor is worth celebrating with shouts of acclamation. All people can be the people of God, all can be transformed by Jesus into the people of God.

Have you been transformed.


< Psalm 46 | Psalm 47 | Psalm 48 >
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