Psalm 47 is a hymn, a clear song of praise to God for God’s Kingship and God’ rule. “Clap your hands, all you people! Shout joyfully to God with a joyous shout! (Verse 1. This and all other Scripture quotations are from the CEB).” This act of worship, this praise, this acknowledgment of the ultimate sovereignty of God, is the proper offering of all persons in all nations. “He is the great king of the whole world (Verse 2b).”
Verse 5 says that “God has gone up with a joyous shout, the Lord with the blast of the ram’s horn.” The reference to the blowing of the horn was part of the basis for using this Psalm in the synagogue at the festival of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, the first day of Tishri. And with the advent of Christianity the reference to God having “gone up” or ascended became the reason this Psalm became one of the propers for the Ascension of our Lord Sunday on the ecclesiastical calendar.
All nine verses of the Psalm cry out that God has ruled and continues to rule over the earth’s nations. God sits on the throne (Verse 8b) where all leaders of all people come to give homage (Verse 9a). As a Christian reading this passage we are able to recognize the eschatological hope it presents. As verse 9 testifies, “The leaders of all people are gathered with the people of Abraham’s God because the earth’s guardians belong to God; God is exalted beyond all.”
This parallels what is read in the epistolary reading for this day, particularly Ephesians 1:22. “God put everything under Christ’s feet and made Him head of everything in the church.” It calls to mind the Christological hymn of Philippians 2:10-11, which trumpets that “at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” It certainly foreshadows the promise of Revelation 5:13, where the revelator “heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, I heard everything everywhere say, ‘Blessing, honor, glory, and power belong to the One seated on the throne and to the Lamb forever and always.’”
The day is coming when all people everywhere will recognize the God to whom they belong.
It makes me wonder, though, why we have to wait for such a day before we can give God praise? What excuses do I have to not “sing praises to God! Sing praises! Sing praises to our king! Sing praises because God is king of the whole world! Sing praises with a song of instruction! (Verses 6-7)”?
My congregation is blessed to serve many Haitian persons. Even after the devastating earthquake of 2010 we had a sanctuary full of persons giving praise to God. And yes, we rejoiced that three of our own were on the last plane out of Port-au-Prince before the earthquake struck and were returned to us safely, but we also rejoiced that God was still Lord and King, even in the midst of heartache and pain.
We serve many Nepalese persons, most of whom have been relocated to the United States after more than 20 years in refugee camps in Nepal. Many who come to faith in Jesus struggle with ostracization from Hindu family members, and with adjusting to a vastly different culture. They face uncertainty with immigration issues at the fore of national headlines and policies. And yet they praise God.
We have many persons who are a part of our church from central Africa, especially the Congo. Nearly every family has been affected by the genocide that has happened on that continent and yet nearly every family gives praise to God for goodness and protection and grace and peace.
What’s my excuse to not do so?
“Clap your hands, all you people! Shout joyfully to God with a joyous shout!”