Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
This is one of those psalms that tantalise by seeming to tell the story of their origin, though on closer inspection the story refuses to be satisfactorily identified. Some public rejoicing for victory evidently gave it birth, but whether it was that of Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20). or of Hezekiah (2Kings 18:8), or of John Hyrcanus over the Idumæans (Jos., Ant., xiii. 9, 1), must remain in the region of conjecture. The reading, “with the people,” in Psalm 47:9 (see Note), would lend probability to the last of these queries. The occasion, whatever it was, seems to have led to a re-dedication of the Temple (Psalm 47:5), such as we read of 1 Maccabees 4:54. The rhythm is fine and varied.
Title.—See titles Psalms 42, 3.
To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah. O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.(1) Of triumph.—Or, of exultation, as LXX. and Vulg. For the hand-clapping at a time of national rejoicing, such as the coronation of a king, see 2Kings 11:12 (comp. Psalm 98:8); and for the “shout,” comp. Numbers 23:21, “the shout of a king”; and 1Samuel 10:24. With the Hebrews, as with our own English forefathers, this sign of popular assent,
“In full acclaim,
A people’s voice,
The proof and echo of all human fame,”
played a large and important part.
For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.(2) Most high.—Or, possibly, a predicate, is exalted.
Terrible.—Literally, feared. (Comp. 2Chronicles 20:29).
He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet.(3, 4) Shall subdue . . . shall choose.—Rather, subdues, chooses, indicating a continued manifestation of the Divine favour.
(3) Our inheritance.—The LXX. read, “his inheritance,” suggesting that originally the passage may have run, He chooses us for His inheritance, an even commoner thought in the Hebrew mind than that of the present text, that Jehovah chose Canaan as an inheritance for Israel.
He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah.(4) The excellency of Jacob.—This phrase, which literally means the loftiness of Jacob, is used in Nahum 2:2 of the national glory, in Ezekiel 24:21 of the Temple, but in Amos 6:8 has a bad sense, “the pride of Jacob.” Here, as the text stands, it is to be understood of the country. (Comp. Isaiah 13:19.)
God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.(5) Is gone up.—Not, as in Genesis 17:22, Judges 13:20, to heaven, but, as in Psalms 24, to the Temple, as is shown by the public acclaim accompanying the ark to its resting-place after victory. (Comp. 2Chronicles 20:28; Psalm 68:17; Amos 2:2.)
Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.(6) Sing praises.—Better, Strike the harp.
For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.(7) With understanding.—Rather, play a fine tune. (See title Psalms 32) Or perhaps as LXX., and Vulg. adverbially, play with skill.
The princes of the people are gathered together, even the people of the God of Abraham: for the shields of the earth belong unto God: he is greatly exalted.(9) The shields of the earth—i.e., the princes just mentioned, as in Hosea 4:18; so LXX. and Vulg. (“strong ones”), which, however, they make the subject of the verb—“have been mightily exalted.”