Psalm 47:5
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.







God is gone up with a shout.
I. PROVE THE TRUTH OF THIS DOCTRINE — that Christ is gone up, or ascended.

1. This was typified under the Old Testament by the ark, which continued in a wandering, uncertain condition, as to the place of its abode, till it was taken up to Mount Zion and fixed in the holy of holies.

2. This was foretold by the prophet (Psalm 110:1).

3. This is evident from the testimony of famous witnesses (Acts 1:11; Acts 7:55, 56).

4. This is confirmed from many texts of Scripture (Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 12:2).

5. This appears from the glorious fruits and consequences of His actual accession to the throne of glory, which have appeared in the open view of all mankind.

II. SHOW WHAT IS IMPORTED IN THIS EXPRESSION OF HIS GOING UP.

1. His voluntary humiliation (John 3:13).

2. His incarnation, or assumption of man's nature.

3. That He had ended or finished the work or service for which He came down into this lower world.

4. His resurrection from the dead, whereby He was justified as the Head and Surety of an elect world, and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness.

5. That the gates of glory, which had been shut, were again opened by the death and satisfaction of Christ.

6. That God the Father is perfectly well pleased with the person and undertaking of our glorious Redeemer; for, if He had not been well pleased, how could He give Him such a solemn reception after His work was done?

7. That when Christ ascended, after finishing our redemption, He was received into heaven with the universal applause and admiration of the triumphant company.

III. SPEAK OF THE SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST'S ASCENSION.

1. The place from whence He went up. This world, where He had met with such bad entertainment.

2. Whither He is gone up. He is gone up into the third heavens, where no unclean thing can enter; and the heavens are to contain Him till the time of the restitution of all things.

3. To whom He is gone up (John 20:17). Oh! what an infinite satisfaction would it be to Him to return to His Father, to be possessed of that glory that He had with Him before the world was!

4. Through what region, and through whose territories he went up.

5. His levee or retinue that attended Him when He went up. This seems to be pointed at (Psalm 68:17).

6. The spoils and trophies He carried along with Him when He went up.

(1)The head of the old serpent.

(2)The keys of the grave (Revelation 1:18).

(3)The debt bond that we were owing to justice, retired and cancelled (Colossians 2:14).

(4)The broken law repaired, yea, magnified and made honourable by His obedience unto death.

(5)The keys of the house of David, i.e. an absolute dominion, sovereignty and headship over His Church, and over all creatures for the Church's sake (Isaiah 22:22).

7. With respect to the solemnity of Christ's ascension, we may consider that He went up with a shout. Who were they that gave the shout? We read of nothing but a deep and silent gazing after Him as He went up from this lower world (Acts 1:9-11); where, then, was the shouting? In the Church triumphant, among an innumerable company of angels, and the spirits of just man made perfect: these sons of God shouted for joy when they saw their glorious Head of redemption and confirmation coming in personally among them. What kind of shouts were among that triumphant company when the Lord Jesus went up to His throne and kingdom?

(1)A shout of approbation.

(2)A shout of joy and gladness (Revelation 19:7).

(3)A shout of praise and gratitude (Revelation 5:9).

(4)A shout of admiration and adoration among the triumphant company.

(5)A shout of victory and triumph among the heavenly crowd.

IV. SHOW WHAT THERE IS IN THE ASCENSION OF CHRIST THAT AFFORDS SUCH GROUND OF TRIUMPH.

1. God is gone up with a shout, as our forerunner, to open the way to glory, and to make a report of what was done in the days of His humiliation upon this earth (Hebrews 6:20).

2. He has gone up as a victorious general to receive a triumph after the battle.

3. He is gone up as a bridegroom to prepare a lodging for His bride, and to make suitable provision for her against the day of the consummation of the marriage (John 14:2, 3).

4. God is gone up with a shout in our nature, as "the great high priest of our profession" (Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 10:21, 22).

5. God is gone up in our nature as "our Advocate with the Father" (1 John 2:1).

6. God is gone up as our exalted King.

7. He is gone up to Mount Zion above, as the great Shepherd, to look after His sheep that are wandering in the wilderness.

8. He is gone up as our glorious Representative to take possession of the inheritance of eternal life, until his fellow-heirs, all believers whom He represents, follow Him.

V. USES.

1. Of information.(1) See hence that the ignominy of the Cross of Christ is fully wiped away.(2) See hence that none need to think themselves dishonoured by suffering the hardest things for His sake.(3) See hence how little reason believers have to be disquieted because of the confusions of this lower world; even though heaven and earth were mingling, and seas roaring. Why, God is gone up with a shout: He governs the world for the Church's sake, and therefore nothing can go wrong, "no weapon formed against Zion shall prosper."(4) See hence the parallel or similitude between Christ's ascension and His coming to judgment.

2. Of trials.(1) Have you received His Spirit? He is a holy Spirit, a praying Spirit, a Spirit of life and liberty, a public Spirit in a time of defection; when the house of Christ is turned into a den of thieves, the zeal of His house will eat you up.(2) Your hearts will be frequently mounting up on high after Him, as upon eagle's wings.

3. Of consolation.(1) Thou shall follow Him ere long.(2) Thou shall not want the gifts, graces and influences of the Spirit to bear you up, and to carry you through in the work and service that He has for you upon earth.(3) Here is comfort under all the glooms and frowns of men in the world for owning Christ, His cause, His kingdom, His truths, His ways and people.(4) Here is comfort against the fear of the "roaring lion, who goes about seeking whom he may devour."(5):Here is comfort; all the angels in heaven are upon thy side, believer, all the armies of heaven are ready to fight the quarrel of His Church.(6) Here is comfort; death is disarmed of its sting, and can do no hurt. Why, Christ carried the sting of death, and the armour of this king of terrors with Him when He went up with a shout. "I have the keys of hell and of death."(7) Here is comfort; thy life is well secured, believer. Why, it is hid in Him who is gone up with a shout (Colossians 3:3).(8) Here is comfort, that all providential dispensations in the world are working together for thy good.

4. Of exhortation.(1) Behold Him with the eye of faith upon the throne.(2) Lift up the everlasting doors of your hearts, that this King of glory may come in.(3) Come with boldness unto the throne of grace.(4) Let all the world, angels, men and devils, reverence Him and do Him homage.(5) See that you have a due regard to the laws and liberties of His house, and the interests of His glory and kingdom.(6) Is He gone up with a shout? Then let us never be ashamed of Him before men, for He is our credit and ornament; He is not ashamed to confess us before His Father, and before His angels.(7) Let us join in the solemnity of His exaltation, for it is not yet ended. They that shouted when He went first up to heaven from Mount Olivet are shouting for joy to this day, and therefore let us join in the concert.

(E. Erskine.)

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