Psalm 46 is famous for its first verse, which inspired Martin Luther’s hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Spurgeon said of this: “There were times when Martin Luther was threatened with discouragement; but he would say, ‘Come, Philip, let us sing the 46th Psalm’; and they would sing it in Luther’s own version…This psalm is both historical and prophetic. It refers to things that happened in Israel; and it is a prophecy concerning the New Testament Church.”
In “The Tyndale Old Testament Commentary,” Old Testament scholar Frank Derek Kidner (Kidner, Derek “Psalms 1-72” Volume 1 ) outlined the psalm as being divided into three sections: 1) The Most High’s ascendancy over nature (verses 1-3); 2) His ascendancy over the attackers of His city (verses 4-7); and 3) His ascendancy over the whole warring world (verses 8-11).
From verse 10, we have another hymn, “Be Still and Know That I Am God,” which commands all to give glory and reverence to the almighty, who “will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 47 is another song of the “Sons of Korah,” celebrating God’s rule over all the earth. It is supposed by some that this psalm has its roots in the transport of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, citing 2 Samuel 6:15. Otheres see it as celebrating the deliverance of the people from Sennacherib in 701 B.C. (2 Kings 19:20-36).
Coffman says of verse 8: “This verse enables us to know the identity of God who went up (verse 5). He is the God who rules over the Gentiles (the `nations’) in his kingdom, and who during that time is `sitting upon his holy throne.’ The special application of this terminology to Jesus Christ is well known to every Christian, the same being a strong indication that Ps. 47:5 is indeed a prophecy of Christ’s ascension.” Verse 9 (“The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham”) aligns with Paul’s reminder that we are all Abraham’s offspring (Galatians 3:28-29).
5 God has gone up with a shout,
the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
8 God reigns over the nations;
God sits on his holy throne.
Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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