Psalm 47. Look, yesterday you said you were nervous about the blog. Well, I’m apprehensive today. What’re you going say about Psalm 47?
–How about: “It’s short”? Just a title and 9 verses.
–Oh, come on…
Okay. It’s really noisy. Gotta clap along. And ‘shout’! (v1). And look down a bit… The Lord likes to pump up the volume: “The LORD has ascended with trumpets blaring’”(v5b). Are you going to do the ‘mighty shout’ response (v5a)? Or are you saying we shouldn’t do that sort of stuff in a nice suburban Anglican place of worship?
–You’re being provocative. Look, yesterday you were talking about context. Right? Well, Psalm 47 is not the southern suburbs of Cape Town. I’m not stupid. Look at verse 4! The ‘Promised Land’.
–Hey, that’s great. You’re jumping right into biblical hermeneutics there. Rule of thumb—read the individual bits within the framework of the whole kaboosh.
–So Cape Town is ‘the Promised Land’ for me, compared with Pofadder, but I’m not Jacob’s descendant except for being part of the human species.
You’re right. “The people of the God of Abraham” (v9b) are Jewish. Except that Jesus and then Paul upset that by telling everyone who would listen that God had a bigger idea of family than Israelites. In fact, read Psalm 47:7–9. In the final analysis, there’s one world, one God, and one Kingdom left standing.
–The word ‘King’ comes up and repeats: “He is the great King of all the Earth” (v2b)… “sing praises to our King“ (v6b)… “For God is King over all the Earth” (v7a). You’ve noticed that?
–Yes, that’s so radical… it’s either true or nonsense.
–‘Radical’? Why’s it ‘radical’?
It’s radically different from what people living in the Ancient Near East believed. Even what a lot of Israelites believed a lot of the time. Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Moabites, Edomites, Philistines—they all worshipped an array of gods and often thought of them as national and territorial. Our psalmist shoos these gods off stage, including the ones these people called ‘king’ like Marduk, who was made king of the gods at Babylon.
–But then this psalmist of ours is just inflating his deity, Yahweh, to global proportions. Isn’t that nationalism gone mad?
–I told you that it’s either true or nonsense. But inflated nationalism doesn’t cover it. This poet is a visionary. He’s also inclusive in his thinking. That’s radical too. ‘The rulers of the world have gathered together with the people of the God of Abraham’(v9).
And remember the story rolled on. Who got crucified with a placard above his head?
–Jesus did. By the Romans.
–Yes, and the placard said? Yes, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:37). The Romans were taking the mick. The top theologians and priests mocked along: “So he is the King of Israel is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him!” (Matthew 27:42).
–But he was the Anointed One, the anointed king, the Messiah. They didn’t expect a Messiah like Jesus who got crucified. They wanted a conqueror.
Yes, indeed, Jesus was the king. Now that’s radical. That’s true or nonsense. We worship Him as king, this Jesus from Nazareth. He said “I have been given all authority in heaven and on Earth” (Matt 28:18) before He ascended. We weren’t there, but we see that reality by faith. It’s something to shout about. You can’t make it comfortably respectable. It’s either nonsense or it’s shockingly true.
‘Shout to God with joyful praise!’ (46:1).