Psalm 47:7
For God is the King of all the earth: sing you praises with understanding.
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(7) With understanding.—Rather, play a fine tune. (See title Psalms 32) Or perhaps as LXX., and Vulg. adverbially, play with skill.

47:5-9 Praise is a duty in which we ought to be frequent and abundant. But here is a needful rule; Sing ye praises with understanding. As those that understand why and for what reasons they praise God, and what is the meaning of the service. It is not an acceptable service, if it is not a reasonable service. We are never to forget the end of Messiah's exaltation, so continually do the prophets dwell upon the conversion of the nations to the gospel of Christ. Why do we vainly fancy that we belong to him, unless the Spirit reign in our hearts by faith? Lord, is it not thy glory and delight to give repentance to Israel and remission of sins, now that thou art exalted as a Prince and a Saviour? Set up thy kingdom in our hearts. Bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. And so sweetly constrain all the powers and faculties of the souls of thy redeemed, into holy love, fear, and delight in thee, that praise with the understanding may rise from every heart, both here and for ever, to Thee, our God.For God is the King of all the earth - He has shown himself to be a universal sovereign. All nations are subject to him, and he has a claim to universal praise.

Sing ye praises with understanding - Margin, Every one "that hath understanding." Neither the text here, however, nor the margin, expresses the true idea of the original. The Hebrew is, "Sing a Maschil" - משׂכיל maśkı̂yl; that is, Sing, or play, a didactic psalm or tune; that is, a song or ode adapted to convey valuable lessons of instruction. See the word explained in the notes at the title to Psalm 32:1-11. The idea is, that the occasion was one on which "such" a psalm or song would be especially appropriate; an occasion on which great lessons or truths had been taught by the dealings of God, which it became his people now to set forth in a becoming manner. Those lessons or truths pertained to the fact that God is the great King over all the earth, or that he is a sovereign among the nations: a truth of immense importance to mankind, and a truth which the occasion on which the psalm was composed was especially adapted to bring to view.

5-7. God, victorious over His enemies, reascends to heaven, amid the triumphant praises of His people, who celebrate His sovereign dominion. This sovereignty is what the Psalm teaches; hence he adds,

sing … praises with understanding—literally, "sing and play an instructive (Psalm)." The whole typifies Christ's ascension (compare Ps 68:18).

7 For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.

"For God is the King of all the earth." The Jews of our Saviour's time resented this truth, but had their hearts been right they would have rejoiced in it. They would have kept their God to themselves, and not even have allowed the Gentile dogs to eat the crumbs from under his table. Alas! how selfishness turns honey into wormwood. Jehovah is not the God of the Jews only, all the nations of the earth are, through the Messiah, yet to own him Lord. Meanwhile his providential throne governs all events beneath the sky. "Sing ye praises with understanding." Sing a didactic Psalm. Sound doctrine praises God. Even under the economy of types and ceremonies, it is clear that the Lord had regard to the spirituality of worship, and would be praised thoughtfully, intelligently, and with deep appreciation of the reason for song, It is to be feared from the slovenly way in which some make a noise in singing, that they fancy any sound will do. On the other hand, from the great attention paid by some to the mere music, we feel sadly sure that the sense has no effect upon them. Is it not a sin to be tickling men's ears with sounds when we profess to be adoring the Lord? What has a sensuous delight in organs, anthems, etc., to do with devotion? Do not men mistake physical effects for spiritual impulses? Do they not often offer to God strains far more calculated for human amusement than for divine acceptance? An understanding enlightened of the Holy Spirit is then and then only fully capable of offering worthy praise.

The King of all the earth; not only ours, as I now said, but also of all the nations of the world; and therefore he may well require, and doth highly deserve, all our praises.

With understanding; not rashly, or formally and carelessly, but seriously, considering the greatness of this King whom you praise, and what abundant cause you have to praise and admire him; which is an intimation that the matter of this Psalm is more sublime and important than ordinary. For God is the King of all the earth,.... Or "the king of all the earth is God" (e); the same that is ascended into heaven, and is King of saints, even Christ Jesus; and so he will appear to be, especially in the latter day; See Gill on Psalm 47:2;

sing ye praises with understanding; or, as De Dieu renders it, to him that understandeth, that is, to God the only wise, whose understanding is infinite; even to Christ, who, as God, knows all things; and, as man and Mediator, is of quick understanding, and has all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in him; so R. Obadiah, "sing of him who understands"; or, "sing ye praises, O everyone that understandeth" (f); that is, how to sing, as everyone does not; this is the sense of Aben Ezra and Kimchi; or "with understanding", as we render it; with understanding of what is sung. The Apostle Paul seems to refer to this passage in 1 Corinthians 14:15. The Targum renders it, "with a good understanding".

(e) So Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Michaelis. (f) "canite, intelligens", Montanus; i.e. "unusquisque", Vatablus.

For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with {e} understanding.

(e) He requires that understanding be joined with singing, lest the Name of God be profaned with vain crying.

7. with understanding] So the LXX, Vulg., and Jer. But better as R.V. marg., in a skilful psalm, Heb. Maschil. See Introd. p. xix.Verse 7. - For God is the King of all the earth (comp. ver. 2). Sing ye praises with understanding; literally, sing a psalm of instruction. As Hengstenberg remarks, "Every song in praise of God, on account of God, on account of his glorious deeds, contains a rich treasure of instruction and improvement." Here the special instruction is that God is King over the whole earth, that he reigns over the heathen, and that the heathen shall also some time or other own his sovereignty. (Heb.: 47:2-4) "Thereupon the fear of Elohim" - so closes the chronicler (2 Chronicles 20:29) the narrative of the defeat of the confederates - "came upon all kingdoms of the countries, when they heard that Jahve had fought against the enemies of Israel." The psalmist, however, does not in consequence or this particular event call upon them to tremble with fear, but to rejoice; for fear is an involuntary, extorted inward emotion, but joy a perfectly voluntary one. The true and final victory of Jahve consists not in a submission that is brought about by war and bloodshed and in consternation that stupefies the mind, but in a change in the minds and hearts of the peoples, so that they render joyful worship unto Him. In order that He may thus become the God of all peoples, He has first of all become the God of Israel; and Israel longs that this the purpose of its election may be attained. Out of this longing springs the call in Psalm 47:2. The peoples are to show the God of revelation their joy by their gestures and their words; for Jahve is absolutely exalted (עליון, here it is a predicate, just as in Psalm 78:56 it is an attribute), terrible, and the sphere of His dominion has Israel for its central point, not, however, for its limit, but it extends over the whole earth. Everything must do homage to Him in His own people, whether willingly or by constraint. According to the tenses employed, what is affirmed in Psalm 47:4 appears to be a principle derived from their recent experience, inasmuch as the contemporary fact is not expressed in an historical form, but generalized and idealised. But יבחר, Psalm 47:5, is against this, since the choosing (election) is an act done once for all and not a continued act; we are therefore driven to regard the futures, as in Numbers 23:7; Judges 2:1, as a statement of historical facts. Concerning ידבּר, He bent, made to stoop, vid., Psalm 18:48. There is now no necessity for altering יבחר into ירחב, and more especially since this is not suited to the fact which has given occasion to the Psalm. On the contrary, יבחר presupposes that in the event of the day God has shown Himself to be a faithful and powerful Lord [lit. feudal Lord] of the land of Israel; the hostile confederation had thought of nothing less than driving Israel entirely out of its inheritance (2 Chronicles 20:11). The Holy Land is called the pride (גּאון) of Jacob, as being the gift of grace of which this, the people of God's love, can boast. In Amos 6:8 גאון יעקב has a different meaning (of the sin of pride), and again another sense in Nahum 2:3 (of the glory of all Israel in accordance with the promise); here it is similar to Isaiah 13:19. את has a conjunctive accent instead of being followed by Makkeph, as in Psalm 60:2; Proverbs 3:12 (these are the only three instances). The strophe which follows supports the view that the poet, in Psalm 47:5, has a recent act of God before his mind.
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