Reading Time: 6 Minutes
This Psalm celebrates God as the King of all kings. The theme is the kingdom of God, and the joy of God’s people that he is the King.
The first two verses summarize the theme of the entire Psalm.
Clap your hands for joy, all peoples!
Praise God with loud songs!
The Lord, the Most High, is to be feared;
he is a great king, ruling over all the world. (Psalm 47.1-2)
I think the best way to appreciate this Psalm is to review a few Bible passages that illuminate the kingdom of God.
The Good News
When Jesus was born, the children of Israel had been dominated by one super power after another for nearly 500 years. Jesus’ first message was, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news” (Mark 1.15).
The people who heard Jesus and who were familiar with this Psalm may have recalled some of its God-exalting poetry.
God is king over all the world;
praise him with songs!
God sits on his sacred throne;
he rules over the nations. (Psalm 47.7-8)
The same people may have clapped their hands in joy, while the envisioned God ruling over the nations that had oppressed them for centuries.
Because they believed the good news that Jesus brought, they changed their mind about life. That is the literal meaning of the word, “repent.”
People who talk about God’s kingdom in our age speak of the “already, but not yet” aspect of the kingdom. By that, they mean God’s kingdom is “already” present in the world through the work of Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the church.
However, the kingdom of God is “not yet” fully realized. There is a time coming where as Paul describes it, “He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (1 Corinthians 15.25).
The question is how are we going to live “between the times” – between the “already, but not yet” of the full realization of God’s kingdom?
Lessons on the Kingdom
One way to approach Psalm 47 is to sing it or to prayerfully read it. There is great value in doing that. In addition, Jesus used parables and his teaching to encourage us to respond to the government of God in a greater way.
— Matthew 13.44-46 – Jesus said that God’s kingdom is so valuable that we should give our all to be a part of it.
— Matthew 22.1-14 – Jesus told a parable that emphasized the foolishness of not taking the return of the King seriously. We are not to become so comfortable in the current age that we fail to realize God is a King with a kingdom.
— Matthew 5-7 – The Sermon on the Mount describes how people are to live as members of God’s kingdom. These chapters are worthy of our study and application to life.
The last sentence of the Psalm states: “More powerful than all armies is he; he rules supreme.” Our response to him should be grateful allegiance to his rule.
That is why we pray from the heart:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6.9-10)
The Kingdom in Revelation
The Book of Revelation pictures what is to come with regard to God’s kingdom.
In the “already” aspect of God’s kingdom, we learn this about ourselves.
We join the praise of the church and declare, “To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1.5-6).
Who are we? We are people who have been set free from sin. We are part of God’s kingdom. We are priests, who serve our loving Savior.
A priest puts his hand on God through intercession and pleads for the people. The priest offers his hand to people and invites them to go with them to experience our loving and gracious Lord.
The “not yet” portion of God’s kingdom is stated like this: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11.15).
If Psalm 47 exhorts people to “clap your hands” when it was written, we all will certainly rejoice with great joy when God’s kingdom is fully realized in power and glory.
May We Pray for You?
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