Lectionary Calendar
Monday, December 4th, 2023
the First Week of Advent
Tired of seeing ads while studying? Now you can enjoy an "Ads Free" version of the site for as little as 10¢ a day and support a great cause!
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries
Psalms 47

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2981. B.C. 1023.

This Psalm is thought by some to have been composed by David (though his name be not in the title) when he brought the ark, which was the token of God’s presence, with them, either from Kirjath-jearim, with the most solemn pomp, and all sorts of music, 2 Samuel 6:5 , or from the house of Obed-edom unto mount Zion. Others think it was composed by some of the sons of Korah, when the ark was carried by Solomon, with similar rejoicings, from mount Zion to the temple. But as Zion and the temple were types of the church, and the ark a type of Christ, so it has a further reference, even to Christ’s ascension into heaven, and to the spreading of his kingdom in all parts of the world. It contains an exhortation to rejoice in God, Psalms 47:1-4 . A prophecy of Christ’s ascension, and of the calling of the Gentiles, Psalms 47:5-9 .

Verses 1-2

Psalms 47:1-2. O clap your hands, all ye people All ye tribes of Israel, or, rather, all nations, not only Jews but Gentiles; for all of them would, or might have benefit, if not by the removal of the ark to mount Zion, or to the temple, yet by that which was represented thereby, the ascension of the Messiah into heaven. Shout unto God Unto the glory of the God of Israel. For the Lord most high Above all gods and men; is terrible

To all his enemies; a great King over all the earth The universal monarch of the whole world, and not of Israel only. These lofty expressions of calling on all people to shout unto God with the voice of triumph, &c., whatever was the first occasion of them, seem to have been dictated and raised to this height of expression by a divine prophetic influence, to prefigure an event which should happen in the world, namely, a time when all the people of the earth, and not the Hebrews only, should call upon, and rejoice in, the true God, Jehovah.

Verse 3

Psalms 47:3. He shall subdue the people under us Though this may be applied to the victories which God gave the Hebrews over the neighbouring people, yet the expressions are too magnificent to signify that only. To subdue the nations, seems to indicate something more than bringing a few neighbouring countries under the Hebrew government. And God certainly never intended to bring, nor, in fact, did he bring, the nations of the earth under the yoke of the Jewish people; who were far from being fit to have the rest of the world subjected to them. And therefore it is reasonable to conclude, that the bringing the nations of the earth to the knowledge and worship of Jehovah, and under subjection to the gospel, whereby, instead of being slaves, they were made free from the bondage of sin and death, was the great subject signified by these magnificent expressions. The Hebrew, ידבר עמים תחתינו , is literally, He shall speak the people under us, that is, shall conquer, and make them subject to us by his word, the rod of his strength, to be sent forth out of Zion, (Psalms 110:2,) whereby the people were to be made willing in the day of his power; by the law, the gospel law, or word of the Lord, which was to go forth from Jerusalem, Isaiah 2:3. In consequence of our Lord’s ascension, his all-subduing word went forth, and, under its influence and direction, the convinced and converted nations renounced their idols and their lusts, and bowed their willing necks to the yoke of Jesus, and became his holy and happy subjects. “This,” says Dr. Horne, “is that great conquest foreshowed by the victories of Joshua, David, and all the faithful heroes of old time, and foretold in language borrowed from their histories.” And the nations under our feet The Gentile converts were in some sort brought under the Jews, because they were subjected to Christ and to his apostles, and to the primitive church, who were Jews. Or, rather, the psalmist speaks this in the name of the whole church, made up of Jews and Gentiles, unto which all particular believers were to submit themselves in and for the Lord.

Verse 4

Psalms 47:4. He shall choose our inheritance for us The Syriac, Arabic, and Latin, render the word יבחר , jibchar, here used, in the past time, he hath chosen, which, if understood of God’s choosing Canaan for the Israelites, and placing them in it, is certainly more proper, being according to the matter of fact. The word, however, is in the future tense, and if interpreted of the Gentiles, who were to be called into God’s church, and to receive the blessings of grace and glory for their inheritance, the more proper rendering is that of our translators, He shall choose, or, he will appoint, and bestow upon us, our inheritance That is, the inheritance intended for us, designed to be ours, namely, God himself, who is the portion of his people, or the presence, worship, and blessing of God. This God had chosen for the Israelites, and had resolved to choose, or set apart, for the Gentiles. The excellency of Jacob Or, his glory, or boast, as גאון , geon, also means; that wherein he gloried and excelled all other people, namely, not Canaan, but God’s sanctuary, the ordinances of his worship, and his presence and blessing. See Ezekiel 24:21; Amos 6:8; Amos 8:7. He may mean the person of Jacob, who, though he never had the actual possession of Canaan, yet had the Lord, and his presence and blessing, for his inheritance. Or, rather, he means the people of Israel, who are frequently called Jacob; for these did actually enjoy both the promised inheritance of Canaan and the presence of God in his sanctuary. Whom he loved This he adds, partly as the reason why he chose such a noble inheritance for them, which was not any peculiar worth in them, more than in other people, but only for his free love to them, as he declares, Deuteronomy 7:7-8; and Deuteronomy 9:5; and partly as an evidence of the excellence of this inheritance, because it was chosen for his beloved people.

Verse 5

Psalms 47:5. God is gone up with a shout This is meant literally of the ark, wherein God was present, which went or was carried up to the hill of Zion, where the tabernacle was erected for it, and afterward to the hill of Moriah into the temple, which solemnities were accompanied with the shouts and acclamations of the people, and with the sound of trumpets; but mystically, it is to be understood of Christ’s ascension into heaven, as may be gathered by comparing this with Ephesians 4:8, where the like words, uttered concerning the ark upon the same occasion, Psalms 68:18, are directly applied to Christ’s ascension.

Verses 6-7

Psalms 47:6-7. Sing praises, &c. These words are repeated four times in this verse, to show how vehemently desirous the psalmist was that God might have his due praise and glory: and of what great necessity and importance it was to men to perform this great, though much neglected duty; unto our king For so he is in an especial manner. God is King of all the earth Not only ours, as I now said, but of all the nations of the world: and, therefore, he may well require, and doth highly deserve, all our praises. Sing ye praises with understanding Not formally and carelessly, but seriously, considering the greatness of this king whom you praise, and what abundant cause you have to praise him.

Verse 8

Psalms 47:8. God reigneth over the heathen Over all heathen nations. He is not only our King, and therefore we owe our homage to him, but he is King of all the earth, Psalms 47:7, and therefore in every place the incense of praise ought to be offered to him. God, as Creator, and the God of nature and providence, reigns even over the heathen, and disposeth of them and all their affairs as he pleaseth, though they know him not, nor have any regard to him. God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness Namely, as Judge and King, exercising dominion, or reigning, as was now said. Heaven is often called God’s throne, whence God is said to behold and to rule all nations; of which general dominion of God he here speaks. And Christ sits at his Father’s right hand for that purpose.

Verse 9

Psalms 47:9. The princes of the people The heads of the tribes; even the people of the God of Abraham With all the people that worship him, who promised to give this country unto Abraham; are gathered together Are assembled at their solemn feasts, without any fear of invasion from their foreign neighbours; for the shields of the earth belong unto God For God (to attend whose service they have left their own houses unguarded) hath undertaken their protection; and he is infinitely superior to all other gods, who pretend to be the defenders of the earth. So Bishop Patrick. But almost all the ancient versions and more modern translators render the former clause of this verse, The princes of the nations are incorporated with the God of Abraham: similar to which is the version of our Liturgy; The princes of the people are joined to the people of the God of Abraham. “In this prophetical sense,” says Dr. Dodd, “which seems most proper, the princes of the people mean the heathen princes, who were to be converted to Christianity, and to join themselves to the people of the God of Abraham; that is, to the Jewish converts under the dominion of Christ. The shields mean the sovereignty of the whole earth: for God takes to him the shields of the earth; all the princes of it under his own immediate government. King and shield are synonymous, Psalms 84:9.”

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 47". Benson's Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/psalms-47.html. 1857.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile