Psalms 1 - 50by Mike Raiter
The main Christian celebrations are Christmas and Easter, when we remember three great events of the life of the Lord Jesus: His birth, His death, and His resurrection. By comparison, the church rarely speaks of Jesus' ascension. Yet our Lord's ascension to God's right hand, from where He rules the nations, is an event of global and eternal importance. Psalm 47 celebrates the ascension of the Great King, the Lord God.
Psalm 47 continues the triumphant theme of Psalm 46, in which we read of God silencing the raging of the nations. Here, He is praised because He has ″subdued nations under us″ (47:3). Presumably, this song was composed after a great victory. One can easily imagine Israel singing this song as David brought the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem, having defeated his enemies (2 Samuel 6). Psalm 47 is like a sandwich. The calls to praise God are the bread (vv. 1-4; 6-9), and the ascension of God is the meat (v. 5).
The psalm invites the nations to ″shout to God with cries of joy″ (v. 1). Whenever an ancient songwriter wanted to emphasise a truth, he would use repetition. So, five times in just nine verses, the Sons of Korah call on all people to sing praises to the Lord. It is surprising that even the subdued nations are called upon to praise God. Surely their defeat is more a cause for fear than joy? However, they can rejoice because as the God of Abraham (v. 9), He had promised that through Abraham all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:2-3). From His exalted throne, God will pour blessings on the nations.
At the centre of Psalm 47, we read that God has ascended to His throne (v. 5). Today, the rule of God and His Son is hidden from most people. But one day, the curtain will be pulled back and then all will see that He reigns over the nations and is greatly exalted (vv. 8-9). Whether we are troubled by disturbing events in our world or our personal struggles, today the five-fold call of Psalm 47 is to praise the God who ″is seated on his holy throne″ (v. 8).
Why do you think Christians do not give much attention to the ascension of Jesus? Why is this event so important to us?
Why do you think Psalm 47 chose to describe God's people as ″the pride of Jacob, whom he loved″ (v. 4)?