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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 47

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Psalms 47:0


God the King of the Earth MT Intro A Song; a Psalm of the sons of Korah. Praise to God, the Ruler of the Earth A Hymn Celebrating God's Enthronement as King of All Nations The Supreme Ruler Yahweh, King of Israel, King of the World
Psalms 4:1-4 Psalms 47:1-4 Psalms 47:1-4 Psalms 47:1-4 Psalms 47:1
Psalms 47:2-3
Psalms 47:4
Psalms 47:5-9 Psalms 47:5-7 Psalms 47:5-7 Psalms 47:5-7 Psalms 47:5
Psalms 47:6
Psalms 47:7-8
Psalms 47:8-9 Psalms 47:8-9 Psalms 47:8-9
Psalms 47:9

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


A. This Psalm focuses on the universal exaltation of the Creator/Redeemer God. God reigns (cf. Psalms 93:1; Psalms 96:10; Psalms 97:1; Psalms 99:1; Isaiah 52:7)!

B. The how and when of this kingly affirmation is uncertain.

1. represented in a Davidic King of Israel's annual coronation

2. the end-time consummation of all things (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:25-27)

3. the proper theology of God's place in creation (i.e., monotheism [see SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM], He always has and always will reign)

C. The universal elements of the Psalm are powerful pointers to God as Creator and King of the Universe.

1. all peoples, Psalms 47:1

2. a great King over all the earth, Psalms 47:2b

3. subdues peoples. . .nations, Psalms 47:3; Psalms 47:3

4. God reigns over the nations, Psalms 47:8; Psalms 47:8 (cf. Psalms 22:28; 1 Chronicles 16:31)

5. the princes (nobles) of the people (i.e., not Israel, but Gentiles) have assembled themselves, Psalms 47:9

6. the shields of the earth belong to God, Psalms 47:9

7. also possibly the use of Elyon, which is a common designation for the high god of the ANE, implies YHWH's dominance of all other gods (idols, elohims, angels, etc.)

Verses 1-4

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 47:1-4 1O clap your hands, all peoples; Shout to God with the voice of joy. 2For the Lord Most High is to be feared, A great King over all the earth. 3He subdues peoples under us And nations under our feet. 4He chooses our inheritance for us, The glory of Jacob whom He loves. Selah.

Psalms 47:1-2 Notice the names for Deity.

1. God Elohim, Psalms 47:1, Psalms 47:5, Psalms 47:6, Psalms 47:8 (twice), 9

2. Lord YHWH, Psalms 47:2

3. Most High Elyon, Psalms 47:2 (common name for high god in ANE, cf. Genesis 14:18-20, Genesis 14:22; Numbers 24:16; Deuteronomy 32:8)

4. King Psalms 47:2, Psalms 47:6, Psalms 47:7 (“reigns,” cf. Zechariah 14:9; Malachi 1:14)

5. God of Abraham Psalms 47:9 (i.e., singular form of Elohim, cf. Deuteronomy 32:15, Deuteronomy 32:17; Psalms 18:22)

Poetry often uses multiple names for Israel's Deity. Often it took titles and descriptions from other cultures and applied them to Israel's God. The second book of Psalms used Elohim predominately. See Special Topic: Names for Deity.

Psalms 47:1 This Psalm begins with two imperatives admonishing the earth (i.e., “all peoples”) to loudly rejoice.

1. “clap your hands” BDB 1075, KB 1785, Qal imperative

2. shout to God BDB 929, KB 1206, Hiphil imperative

a. war cry Numbers 10:9; Joshua 6:20; Isaiah 42:13; 2 Chronicles 13:15

b. assembly Numbers 10:7

c. victory Jeremiah 50:15; Zephaniah 3:14

d. affirmation 1 Samuel 10:24; Psalms 47:1; Psalms 66:1; Psalms 81:1; Psalms 95:1-2; Psalms 98:4; Psalms 100:1; Zechariah 9:9

e. religious joy 1 Samuel 4:5; Ezra 3:11, Ezra 3:13

f. distress Isaiah 15:4; Micah 4:9

Psalms 47:2 “feared” This verb (BDB 431, KB 432, Niphal participle, see Special Topic: Fear [OT]) denotes

1. the wilderness that Israel passed through in the exodus, cf. Deuteronomy 1:19; Deuteronomy 8:15

2. causing astonishment Psalms 47:2; Psalms 68:35; Psalms 76:8

3. inspiring reverence Deuteronomy 7:21; Deuteronomy 10:17; Nehemiah 1:5; Nehemiah 9:32; Daniel 9:4

Numbers 2:0 and 3 are very similar in meaning. He is the holy One, the only One and we are sinful creatures! But He has chosen to fellowship with us!

“over all the earth” There seems to be a recurrent worldwide emphasis in Psalms 45-50 (cf. Psalms 47:1, Psalms 47:7-9; Psalms 45:16; Psalms 46:10; Psalms 47:2; Psalms 48:2, Psalms 48:10; Psalms 49:1; Psalms 50:1, Psalms 50:4, Psalms 50:12). This theme “may be” why these Psalms are placed together. See also Psalms 96-99.

The earth is the Lord's (cf. Exodus 9:29; Exodus 19:5). He is the creator, sustainer (i.e., Elohim, Genesis 1:0), savior, and covenant God (i.e., YHWH, Genesis 2:4). There is no other (see SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM)!

Psalms 47:3-4 These verses emphasize the choice of Israel as YHWH's special covenant people (cf. Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:5-6). Israel was meant to be a light to the nations, but she failed (cf. Ezekiel 36:22-23; see Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan).

Israel's military victories were YHWH's victories (i.e., holy war).

Psalms 47:4 “inheritance” In the division of the Promised Land (i.e., Joshua 12-19) the Levites were not given land (i.e., but 48 cities, cf. Joshua 20-21). It was said, “YHWH was their inheritance.” This wonderful promise was extended as a promise to all Israel and in 1 Peter 1:4 to all believers!

It is also possible to see this as referring to Canaan (i.e., the Promised Land, Genesis 12:7; Genesis 15:12-21; Genesis 17:8; Exodus 3:8; Deuteronomy 1:8). It seems that “inheritance” and “glory (BDB 144) of Jacob” are parallel. My reluctance to affirm this is the universal emphasis of the Psalm. The earth, not just Canaan, is the Lord's!

“whom He loves” In the OT, Israel has a central place, but in the NT the gospel of Jesus Christ has a central place (cf. John 3:16; John 4:42; 1 Timothy 2:4; 1 Timothy 4:10; 1 John 2:1-2; 1 John 4:14). Christians must view/interpret the OT through the eyes of the NT, not vice versa!

“Selah” See note at Psalms 3:2 and Introduction to Psalms, VII.

Verses 5-9

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 47:5-9 5God has ascended with a shout, The Lord, with the sound of a trumpet. 6Sing praises to God, sing praises; Sing praises to our King, sing praises. 7For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with a skillful psalm. 8God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne. 9The princes of the people have assembled themselves as the people of the God of Abraham, For the shields of the earth belong to God; He is highly exalted.

Psalms 47:5-9 This strophe focuses on praise to God. Notice the words for vocal affirmation.

1. with a shout, Psalms 47:5

2. with the sound of a trumpet, Psalms 47:5

3-7. sing praises, Psalms 47:6-7 BDB 274, KB 273, Piel imperative, 5 times

Many scholars see Psalms 47:5-8 depicting an annual event, where the Israeli king ascended the throne as a symbolic representative of YHWH's universal reign (i.e., ark brought back to the temple after a procession, cf. 2 Samuel 6:15). However attractive this theory, there is little historical evidence.

Psalms 47:5 “trumpet” See Special Topic below.


Psalms 47:7

NASB“skillful psalm” NKJV“with understanding” NRSV“with a psalm” JPSOA“a hymn” REB“with all your skill”

This term (BDB 968) is used in the MT titles of thirteen Psalms, but only here in the text of a Psalm. BDB says it means “contemplative poem”; KB gives

1. “cult song” (Kittel)

2. “wisdom song performed to music” (Mowinckel)

Derek Kidner, Tyndale OT Commentaries, vol. 15, p. 195, links this word (i.e., Maskil) to Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 14:15. This is interesting but inconclusive. It is often very difficult to identify OT allusions in NT writings.

Psalms 47:9 This verse implies that all the leaders (i.e., representing their people groups) gather together with Israel (i.e., the people of the God of Abraham, cf. Genesis 12:3; Genesis 22:18; Romans 4:0; Galatians 3:6-9).

The phrase “the shields” is a military imagery for the universal victory of YHWH (cf. Psalms 46:8-11).

YHWH's reign over all the earth is accomplished by His own acts (“highly exalted” BDB 748, KB 828, Niphal perfect, cf. Psalms 46:10; Isaiah 2:11, Isaiah 2:17; also note John 3:14-15, where the word “lifted up” also means “highly exalted”).


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. What do Psalms 45-50 have in common?

2. List the titles for Deity and explain the meaning of each.

3. Whom is Psalms 47:9 speaking of?

4. List the universal elements of the Psalm. What do these imply?

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Psalms 47". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/psalms-47.html. 2021.
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