Psalm 47:4
That it is possible this psalm may have been penned immediately after some specific victory, such as that of Jehoshaphat over the formidable combination of peoples that came up against him (2 Chronicles 20.), we may admit; but we can scarcely understand how the peoples should have been invited to clap their hands at their own humiliating defeat. And it seems to us altogether unworthy of the sublime elevation of this psalm to look at it solely, or even mainly, from a military point of view, as if all the nations were invited to a song of triumph over their utter powerlessness to prevail against the chosen people of God. Delitzsch remarks, "In the mirror of the present event, the poet reads the great fact of the conversion of all peoples to Jehovah, which closes the history of the world." Perowne writes, "This is a hymn of triumph, in which the singer calls upon all the nations to praise Jehovah as their King, and joyfully anticipates the time when they shall all become one body with the people of the God of Abraham." Canon Cook says, "While celebrating a transaction of immediate interest to God's people, the psalmist uses expressions throughout which have their adequate fulfilment in the Person and work of the Messiah." And Dr. Binnie wisely remarks that the invitation to the nations, in the first verse, plainly implies that the subjugation is not a carnal one, but "the yearning of men's minds and hearts for God." We are not called on to decide, nor even to ask the question - How much did the human penman of this psalm understand by it? Nor are we to perplex ourselves by asking - How could any human mind forecast all this? For it is not by any law of naturalistic psychology that such a psalm as this is to be tested. The Apostle Peter tells us that "no prophecy of the Scripture comes out of any private interpretation" of the will of God. Nay, further, that the will of man was not the origin of prophecy (2 Peter 1:21), but that holy men of God spake as they were borne on by the Holy Ghost. He tells us, too (1 Peter 1:10-12), that they did not comprehend the full significance of the words which came from their lips; that they diligently inquired into their meaning; that they uttered them, not for themselves, but for us; that their theme was "the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." So that, having this key to the interpretation of the prophetic songs of Scripture, we see that such remarks as those of Cheyne concerning prophecy and psychology are utterly wide of the mark, and that the sole question before us is - What do the words of this psalm declare, when dealt with according to the analogy of faith, concerning the prophetic forecast of the kingdom of the Messiah?

I. THE WORDS OF THIS PSALM DISCLOSE A GREAT THEME FOR SONG. A theme evidently much vaster and more far-reaching than the results of any material, local, or national triumph could possibly be; for it is one which is calculated to make all peoples clap their hands with joy, which could not possibly be true of any victory on an earthly battle-field. We feel increasingly that the terms of this psalm are intelligible only as referred immediately to the conflict and victory of the great Captain of salvation in undertaking to "save" his people from their sins. As Matthew Poole admirably remarks, "In Psalmo 45 actum est de Rege; in Psalmo 46 de eivitate Dei; hic, de Gentium adjunctione ad populum Dei, quam per Christum impletam videmus." And thus we see how far ahead the expansiveness of the Old Testament predictions was of the narrow exclusiveness of the average Jew. Here there is a celebration of God's work which brings out expressions of greatest delight. The delight is in a triumphant achievement that will link all nations in one; and the cause of the delight is not their work, but God's work for them. To nothing but the redemption which is in Christ Jesus could all this possibly apply. Here is a fourfold work of God.

1. The descent of the King to earth. In ver. 5 we read, "God is gone up with a shout." So in Psalm 68:18, "Thou hast ascended up on high," etc. In quoting this last-named verse, the Apostle Paul argues (Ephesians 4:9), "brow that he ascended, what is it but that he descended first into the lower parts of the earth?" The ascension implies that he descended. How can it be otherwise here? That God has gone up from earth involves the truth that he was here; and that means that he came down from heaven (so John 3:13; John 16:28; John 17:5, 24; Luke 19:10; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:6, 7; 1 Timothy 1:15). The coming of the Son Incarnate into the world is the fact announced in the New Testament, and many times predicted in the Old Testament (Isaiah 9:6; Genesis 49:10; Luke 24:44; Matthew 5:17; John 5:46). How far the psalmist understood the meaning of his own words, we are not called on to say; but the meaning of the Holy Ghost in inspiring them is perfectly clear,

2. The ascent of the King is also foretold. (Ver. 5.) The descent, implicitly; the ascent, explicitly. And in this doctrine many of the Old Testament writers blend their words (Psalm 68:18; Psalm 110:11). The King was to be exalted on high. He is (cf. Acts 1:9; Acts 2:33; Ephesians 4:10; Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 6:20; Hebrews 9:24; Hebrews 10:12).

3. The exalted King is Sovereign over all the nations. (Ver. 8.) "The heathen" (Authorized Version) is equivalent to "the nations" (Revised Version). All the nations are under Immanuel's sceptre. Through his death Satan is dethroned, and the Christ enthroned, and every child of man is now under his mediatoriai sway. So we are taught in John 12:31, 32; Acts 10:34, 35. He is now enthroned at the right hand of God; and those hands that were pierced with nails now sway the sceptre of universal power. Yea, and he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet (Psalm 110.). The mediatorial throne is "the throne of his holiness" (ver. 8). In the life of Christ holiness was manifested; in his death, whereby he condemned sin, holiness was vindicated. From his seat above, holiness sways the sceptre; by the power of his Spirit, holiness is created in human spirits. And under the sway of this throne all nations are embraced. "Earth's poor distinctions vanish here." "In Christ there is neither Greek, nor Jew, barbarian, Scythian, bond, nor free; but Christ is all, and in all." And in him all the peoples of the earth may find their home in Abraham's God (ver. 9). The shields, i.e. the princes, of the earth belong unto God.

4. The King governs the world for the sake of the Church. (Ver. 3.) So the third verse indicates. The thought is expressed with gospel clearness in Ephesians 1:22 and Romans 8:28, that out of a sinful world God may call a living Church, to be presented to himself, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. This is the Divine subjugation of his foes, which the mediatorial sovereignty of Christ ensures.

II. HERE IS A CALL FOR SONG ON THIS GREAT THEME, FROM ALL PEOPLES. Man's sin makes us weep. God's mercy makes us sing; and no aspect thereof makes us gladder than that of the triumph of redeeming grace and dying love. And well may the psalmist, thus forecasting redemption's story through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, call for universal song. Well may we sing; for:

1. The great conflict is past. "The voice of triumph" may therefore be ours (cf. Colossians 2:15).

2. The sceptre of the world is in the hands of One, and of One only. There is no division of power (ver. 7).

3. The sceptre of the world is in the hands of the Supreme (ver. 2) And where else could we desire all power to be lodged (cf. Matthew 28:18; John 17:2; Revelation 1:18; Psalm 2:12)?

4. There is a rich inheritance in store for, the loyal ones. The Jew expected an earthly inheritance by virtue of his descent from Abraham; but all believers will have an infinitely greater inheritance by virtue of their union with Christ. God chooses it for us; and with his choice we may be well content. He will deal right royally with his own, and will act worthily of a God. For this inheritance we can wait (Romans 8:17, 18).

5. In the advance of the Divine plans all barriers between race and race are destined to fall: All kindreds of the earth are to rally to the standard of Abraham's God! Nowhere is this breaking down of boundaries more strikingly set forth than in Ephesians 2:12-22, which is an exposition of the basis and structural plan of the Christian commonwealth. This the aged Jacob foretold when he said, "To him shall the gathering of the people be." To this psalmists and seers Point. For this the Saviour prayed: "That they all may be one." He died to "gather together in one the children of God which are scattered abroad" (John 11:52; John 10:16; Isaiah 42:4). At such a thought, "Clap your hands, all ye peoples!" - C.

He shall choose our inheritance for us: the excellency of Jacob whom He loved.
How fond our children are, and the younger they are the more so, of saying, "I mean to be." And then each one tells what his or her choice is. A soldier, a farmer, a cottage girl, and so on. And we let them talk on.

"We know the world is hard and rough,

But time will teach that soon enough."Nevertheless, our path in life is chosen for us. We do not have our own way. There is sweet music in the words of our text. Livingstone, in his fever, far away from any tender hand or kindly care, in poison-haunted jungles of the African wilderness, borne in from day to day, his end seemingly very near, and left by his servants unconscious in his tent while they went to seek other aid; they found him when they came back on his knees by his bedside, but dead — so had he passed away and died in sight of his promised land. He had not received the promise, but he was satisfied, and crowned his life with a consecration of prayer. That was his way of saying, "He shall choose our inheritance for us." It is, if a funeral, not the less a triumphant song. Every life must be a triumph that passes out in prayer. Life's present discords will constitute its great harmony by and by. For —

I. THE JOY OF LIFE IS TO FEEL THAT IT IS NOT A SCHEME OF FATALISM, a mere reign of law. "He shall choose our inheritance for us." This is a strange word to come from an Eastern psalmist, for such men were mainly fatalists, as they are to this day. But the Bible proclaims the freedom of man, and that the universe is governed, not by infinite chance, but by infinite choice.

II. THE DIVINE CHOICE PROVES ITSELF BY DIVINE LOVE. "The excellency of Jacob whom He loved." Huxley tells us that man is justified by verification. But it is not only true that man is justified by faith, but God is also. Choice is another word for love. Love runs along the line of our lives, so that in the end God is justified by verification after all. Jacob was the proof of that love of His. God chooses for us, and His choice is love. Once upon a time in a family I know of there were four children, sons; their names were Little Faith, Don't-care, Honest Doubt, and Great-heart. One day their father called them to him and said, "Children, our family has a house called Beautiful, a great way off. I am going there now: you will attend to my estates down here, and you will follow me by and by; and to find your way take this map, study it — it shows you the way, follow its directions and follow me, and you shall safely arrive at the house Beautiful." Now, when the father was gone, the brothers began to talk over and to dispute about the father's will. Don't care said he was comfortable where he was; should take and stock a farm and lead a merry life; let them go after the house Beautiful who chose, he should not. Little Faith said he did not know however he should find the way. He could not understand maps. Honest Doubt said that, like Little Faith, he too was a bad hand at maps, and, though he knew father loved them, and his will was just, like him, yet he had so much doubt about the whole matter that, until he had more certainty, he could not believe. But Great-heart said, "Brothers, I mean to go; and, Little Faith and Honest Doubt, if you will go with me, any little help I can give you shall have. As to you, Don't-care, you always were a bad one. But, brothers, if the way seems doubtful, you know we can look on the map together, and you, Honest Doubt, will perhaps keep us from being deceived; and you, Little Faith, shall help to keep us prayerful and humble, so let us start and cheer each other." And they did so, and the last I heard of them was that on their way they were singing, "He shall choose our inheritance for us." And without fail those three brothers will reach the Beautiful Home. Then —

III. THERE IS DIVINE CONSOLATION IN THESE WORDS. They are personal. For each one of us, be we who we may.

(E. Paxton Hood.)

Evangelical Preacher.
I. GOD HAS THE RIGHT OF SUPREME CONTROL. He is our Creator, Benefactor, Lawgiver, Preserver, Redeemer and Judge.

II. HIS CHOICE IS THE RESULT OF ETERNAL WISDOM. We cannot descry the future, but God sees the end from the beginning. We are fallible, but God never errs. Things with us are often bounded by time; God always includes eternity.


IV. IT PRESERVES US FROM TAKING AN IMPROPER COURSE. Quietness and confidence in God is our best preservative in the path of integrity. When Israel lost their confidence, they swerved.

V. IT IS THE HAPPIEST STATE OF MIND ON EARTH. Take a few cases — Bereavement (Genesis 43:14); Affliction (Job 1:21); Uncertainty (Acts 21:13, 14); Death (2 Peter 1:14).


1. Let the sinful wanderer adopt the sentiment, and from that day he will be blessed.

2. Let the Lord's own children learn to say, "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." "Thou shalt choose our inheritance for us."

(Evangelical Preacher.)


1. A belief of the providence of God. This belief is supported by the strongest arguments: by what we daily see of the instincts and appetites of living creatures; by the gravitation of matter, or the tendency of all heavy bodies to the earth; by many wonderful events, that happen contrary to what might be expected from the appearances of things; the discovery of secret wickedness, etc.

2. Providence has a peculiar concern for good men, and is exercised towards them with special care, tenderness and love.

3. Hearty consent to God's determinations. Not only a belief that He will choose for His people, but an entire, cheerful acquiescence in His choice. This temper includes the important virtues of humility, patience and contentment. It includes a frame of spirit suited to a persuasion of an over-ruling providence. This persuasion is expressed and strengthened by daily, fervent prayer; and there is to be nothing in the actions or words contrary to it or inconsistent with it: no impatience, fretfulness, or discontent allowed; no unlawful methods used to mend our circumstances, or extricate us out of any difficulty. And if the rebel heart is disposed to murmur, it must be checked and restrained by resolution, watchfulness and prayer.


1. We are not able to choose for ourselves. Our knowledge is limited to a few objects, and we see those imperfectly. We cannot look into futurity, and have many false biases upon our judgment. We have often found ourselves mistaken, and been forced to acknowledge, that we have made a bad choice. "If God would study a close, quick and certain way of being revenged upon a man, He needs but open His stores and bid him choose for himself."

2. God is most fit to choose for us. For His understanding is infinite, His wisdom perfect, His judgment unerring. No case can possibly arise which will puzzle Him; nor can He have any bias upon His mind to act wrong.

3. God hath chosen well for us already, and therefore we should trust Him. This appears from the many favours He hath bestowed upon us, and the goodness and mercy that have followed us all our days.

4. Our minds can never be easy till we leave it to God to choose for us. God will have His choice, whether we leave it to Him or no (Isaiah 46:10).


1. Let us own God's choice in every agreeable circumstance of life.

2. Let us humbly acquiesce in whatever is disagreeable.

3. Let us never allow ourselves to be anxious about future events. In order to support a patient, composed, cheerful spirit, let us live near to God by the daily exercise of fervent prayer; and especially pray that He would "fulfil in us the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power"; and help and cure the remainder of unbelief, which is the foundation of all our sorrows, fears and anxiety.

(Job Orion, D. D.)

Nothing so destroys all the comfort of life as the spirit of discontent with the dispensations of Divine providence. It is as a curse at the root of every earthly good, and it is, at the same time, a barrier in the way of all improvement in religion. Therefore it is our duty to fortify our minds by these considerations, which will help to maintain within us the opposite disposition of a perpetual and unreserved submission to the will of God. We would speak, accordingly —


1. Our text is a profession of it, but its words are not to be applied to our state in the world to come. That inheritance is left to our own choice. God will help us, but it is not necessary that He should choose for us.:For there are but two conditions in the future — not a multitude, which might distract: and they are of the most contrasted character. On the one side is all evil, and on the other all good, so that the decision is easy. The choice, therefore, is left to ourselves.

2. Nor can the text be applied to aught that essentially affects the decision of that state, but only to those things in which men may innocently differ from each other. It is only to these diversities which are strictly non-essential as to the decision of our everlasting destiny that any man is capable of being properly resigned. Such are the distinctions

(1)of rank and property.

(2)Of prosperity and adversity.

(3)Personal affliction and sorrow.

(4)Endowments of mind, means of improvement, opportunities of usefulness — with regard to all such things the Christian will say, The Lord "shall choose," etc.

3. But great virtues are often found to border on dangerous extremes: therefore we need to guard the definition of such virtues very carefully.(1) Therefore this grace of resignation is not to be confused with Stoicism. The effect of pure religion is not to convert flesh hire stone, but stone into flesh. Its object is not to stupefy or destroy, but rather to refine and exalt the feelings of our nature. Job felt deeply his sorrows, but it is expressly said, "In all this he sinned not." And so with our Lord.(2) Nor does resignation prohibit our praying against any evil that is feared, or for good that may be desired. See Paul and his thorn in the flesh.(3) Nor does it necessitate that we are to sit still and do nothing to help ourselves. The text refers to Israel's possession of Canaan, but still they had to do much ere it became theirs.


(J. Crouther.)

Allusion seems to be here made to the division of the earth among Noah's sons after the deluge (Deuteronomy 32:7-9). And like division by lot was observed in regard to the land of Canaan. Though the lot was cast into the lap, the whole disposing thereof was of the Lord. And still God graciously interferes in our affairs.


1. The constant interference on the part of God regards everything relative to our condition in this finite state of being. All form parts of the Divine choosing, however hard it may be to reconcile superior deter-ruination with the free and unrestrained choice which every individual makes for himself. This superintendence is as extensive as it is minute. He telleth the number of the stars, and He counteth the hairs of our head. In its operation it touches the springs of human determination, without at all infringing on individual liberty; and directs man to the choice, while man chooses for himself.

2. It includes the special regards which God pays to tits own people. "This people have I formed for Myself," etc.

3. The Divine Spirit chooses our lot, by leading, directing, and regulating the choice we make for ourselves; not by a powerful and immediate control of the will, but by implanting those principles in the mind which, in their voluntary exercise, will form a choice agreeably to the Divine mind. "It is God that worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure."

II. THE PROPRIETY AND ADVANTAGE OF LEAVING THE CHOICE OF OUR INHERITANCE TO GOD. This is indeed nothing more than cheerfully recognizing the just exercise of His own prerogative: He will eventually do it, whether we will or not. But it is best voluntarily to leave it with God, because —

1. It is infinitely wise and fit that He should choose our inheritance for us. To show the propriety of such a disposition, Jeremiah drew his followers to the potter's field (Jeremiah 18:2-6).

2. This arrangement is infinitely best for ourselves. The task of first forming a human soul for glory, and then bringing that soul to its possession, is what none but God Himself could accomplish.

(Robert Hall, A. M.)

I. THE GLORIOUS FACT. As for the worldling, God gives him anything, but for the Christian, God selects the best portion. He gives the worldling husks; but He stops to find out the sweet fruits for His people.

I. And, first, let ms ask, must we not all of us admit an over-ruling Providence, and the appointment of Jehovah's hands, as to the means whereby we came into this world? What circumstances were those in our power which led us to elect a certain person to be our parent? Had we anything to do with it? Did not God of Himself appoint our parents, native place and friends? And that we were born with healthy body and sound mind. If you have full possession of all your faculties and limbs, you must acknowledge and confess that there was the decree of God in it. And, still further, how much of the finger of God must we discern in our temper and constitution? I suppose no one will be foolish enough to say that we are all born with the same natural temperament and constitution.

2. I will ask any sensible man — above all, any serious Christian — whether there have not been certain times in his life when he could most distinctly see that indeed God did "choose his inheritance for him." Look back and see how the hand of God was in your affairs, and by varied and often strange means allotting you your place and work. I can see a thousand chances, as men call them, all working together, like wheels in a great piece of machinery, to fix ms just where I am. Verily, it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." Then look at the lives of the great saints told of in the Bible and see this truth plainly shown. Joseph; Moses; Daniel. And how many are the Bible declarations in the matter (Isaiah 45:6, 7; Job 14:5; Proverbs 16:33; Jeremiah 21:25).

II. A PRAYER. "He shall choose our inheritance for us." Dry doctrine is of little use. It is not the doctrine which helps us; it is our assent to the doctrine. But there are some of you who, if it were not the truth, would say you wish to have it so, for you would say in your prayer, "Thou shalt choose my inheritance for me."

1. First, "Thou shalt choose my mercies for me." And others would choose their employments; but it is far best to leave the choosing to God. "If there were two angels in heaven," said a good man, "supposing there were two works to be done, and one work was to rule a city, and the other to sweep a street crossing — the angels would not stop a moment to say which they would do. They would do whichever God told them to do. Gabriel would shoulder his broom and sweep the crossing cheerfully; and Michael would not be a bit prouder in taking the sceptre to govern the city." So with a Christian. But there is nothing that we oftener want to choose than our crosses. None of us like crosses at all; but all of us think everybody else's trials lighter than our own. Crosses we must have, but we often want to be choosing them. "Oh!" says one, "my trouble is in my family. It is the worst cross in the world — my business is successful; but if I might have a cross in my business, and get rid of this cross in my family, I should not mind."

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

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