Psalm 47: He Is Highly Exalted
February 25, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Songs of praise have a way of entering into our bones with the marrow of joy. None better than this Psalm: “Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!” Note that there is nothing wrong with exuberance in worship. While when we gather to worship with other believers, it is unkind, unthoughtful, and inconsiderate to act in a way that distracts other people—and plain wrong to act in a way that detracts from the focus of attention being on God—such reverence, essential for all worship, is not akin to boredom or lack of passion and feeling, much less lack of excitement!
We are urged here to “clap” in praise to God. All peoples: clap your hands in praise! And what is more, we are urged here to “shout” in praise to God. Our songs are to be “loud,” not whispered. The clamor of excitement when a long-missed loved one returns home; the exuberant shouts of adulation when a sporting trophy is lifted high; the loud songs at the baseball game; surely our God deserves far more commitment, excitement, and exuberant clapping and shouting!
But note the reason for this praise to God that is given here: “For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared.” What a strange reason, it seems to us, to shout and clap with excitement—the fear of God. But this is a song of praise to God’s sovereign rule in salvation and over all the earth. He “chose” us, he “subdued” peoples under us, he is “our King,” he is “the King of all the earth,” he “reigns over the nations,” the “shields of the earth [meaning his tokens of victory from battle] belong to God.”
This is why we praise God—because he is God! He is worthy of praise. Our praise does not add to his majesty; it is not necessary for God to feel complete by receiving praise from his “underlings.” Our praise of God completes our enjoyment of God’s kingship as people in his kingdom. We praise, and in praising we share our joy with others, and so add to the joy. This is the great experience of authentic biblical worship in church: we together praise God, for he is to be feared, this King of all, and so we clap our hands, we shout for joy.
Perhaps this is all rather foreign to your experience at the moment. Let me encourage you nonetheless to enter into the experience. Read this psalm to yourself again. Read it out loud. Put on your favorite song (or hymn), stream it over the Internet, and begin to sing to the words of that song or hymn. Say as you hear the words wash over you: yes! This is true! He is the King! And begin to shout for joy that he has redeemed you, he loves you, and “he is highly exalted”!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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