The Most High Reigns and We Shout Joyfully in Psalm 47

The Most High Reigns and We Shout Joyfully in Psalm 47

“Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.” Psalm 47:1-2

These two verses don’t seem to go together at first glance. After loss, I found that they—and their mix of joy and fear—go together perfectly. Like a tongue and groove connection. Like a plug and an outlet. Like opposites in a marriage.

Clapping and shouting joyfully is a command; the reason given is the fear of God who is over all the earth. Strange indeed. Or not. When we are tempted to doubt him most, we need to reverently resound his praise knowing his reign overwhelms any temporal picture to the contrary.

“He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet. He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves.” Psalm 47:3-4

Heritage or inheritance is a powerful concept. We are clapping and shouting because we entrust fully our future, our legacy. We clap and shout because he is the one who fights for us. The battle is, indeed, the Lord’s and not ours alone (1 Samuel 17:47). David knew Goliath’s defeat was the Lord’s doing. We clap and shout because we know peoples and nations are subdued by the Most High.

“God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!” Psalm 47:5-7

The command in verse one is seen with the eyes of faith in verse five. Shouting and trumpet sounds will praise him. Further instruction is given to sing praises, and the psalmist repeats this command several times. Singing praises—especially during brokenness—centers your faith. It nails a stake in the ground. It echoes Martin Luther who, in the face of a challenge to recant, said, “Here I stand, I can do no other…” The psalmist sings praises to God the King.

“God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne…” Psalm 47:8

Those with the perspective that God reigns over nations and sits on a holy throne mourn with hope. Perspective shaped by faith matters. “When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace,” writes Edward Mote. He continues, “In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.” God reigns, and he governs sovereignly over all nations. All. None excluded. He sits upon a throne.

If he reigns over nations, he reigns over me.

Daniel reminds us, “…the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men” (Daniel 4:17). From the lowliest of us to the mightiest nation, God governs over all. He is unassailable upon his throne.

If he is unassailable, and if I am under the shadow of his wings, then I am eternally unassailable. His shields are my shields. “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). He is to be praised. His name is to be lifted up. Therefore, clap your hands and shout in praise born of joy. The Most High is a great king over all the earth.

“For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted!” Psalm 47:9


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