John T. Willis

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Yahweh is a Great King over All the Earth--Psalm 47

Psalm 47 is one of many passages in the Hebrew Bible declaring that Yahweh is God over all the earth, and not merely the God of Israel. Throughout the Hebrew Bible, there is a strong emphasis that Yahweh is in control of the entire universe, and is not limited to the land of Canaan. There is no information at all about the historical background of Psalm 47. Its origin is undatable. Psalm 47 is brief and clear. It falls into three brief stanzas.

1. God is a great king over all the earth; therefore, he subdues all nations under him. Psalm 47:1-4.
    a. The poet begins by summoning ALL PEOPLES, that is, ALL NATIONS, to CLAP THEIR HANDS, and to SHOUT to Yahweh with LOUD SONGS OF JOY. Clapping the hands is a gesture of approval.
         1. Addressing the Ammonites, Ezekiel declares: "For thus says the Lord God: Because you have CLAPPED YOUR HANDS and stamped your feet and rejoiced with all the malice within you against the land of Israel, therefore I have stretched out my hand against you." Ezekiel 25:6-7a. The Ammonites clapped their hands in the sense of rejoicing over the defeat of the Israelites.
         2. The composer of Psalm 98:8-9a says:
              "Let the floods CLAP THEIR HANDS;
                      let the hills sing together for joy
                at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming
                      to judge the earth."
The floods clap their hands with approval at the arrival of Yahweh to judge the earth.
         3. Describing the delivery of the Judean exiles from Babylon, the prophet declares:
              "For you shall go out in joy
                      and be led back in peace;
                the mountains and the hills before you
                      shall burst into song,
                and all the trees of the field
                      SHALL CLAP THEIR HANDS."
As the Judean exiles leave from Babylon to return to Jerusalem and Judah, the trees of the field "clap their hands" in exuberant approval of Yahweh's miraculous power and work.
      b. All nations must demonstrate approval of Yahweh because he, "the Most High," is awesome, A GREAT KING OVER ALL THE EARTH." 47:2.
      c. Yahweh subdued peoples and nations under the feet of Yahweh's people, demonstrating his overpowering strength. 47:3.
      d. In doing this, Yahweh chose Israel because of his love. This verse apparently has in mind the conquest of Canaan under Joshua. 47:4.

2. The composer repeatedly calls on his audience to "sing praises" to Yahweh because he is THE KING OF ALL THE EARTH. Psalm 47:5-7.
     a. The poet declares that God has gone up with a shout, with the sound of a trumpet. 47:5.
     b. Accordingly, the poet calls on his audience to "sing praises" to Yahweh as their KING. 47:6.
     c. The poet concludes by calling on his audience to "sing praises" with a psalm, because GOD IS KING OF ALL THE EARTH. 47:7.
Yahweh is the universal God and King.

3. The poet concludes declaring that Yahweh is King over the Nations, and all kings of the earth BELONG TO Yahweh. Psalm 47:8-9.
     a. The poet declares that Yahweh is KING over the nations. He SITS on his holy heavenly throne. 47:8.
     b. The poet declares that the princes of the nations gather as the people of Yahweh, "the God of Abraham," because the shields [a symbol of kings] of the earth BELONG TO Yahweh whether they realize this or not. Yahweh alone is highly exalted above all kings and nations and the earth. 47:9.

What a great encouragement and assurance. Trust in Yahweh alone.

Share YOUR beliefs and concerns and ideas and problems and setbacks with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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