God Holds the Trump Cards (Psalm 47)

This week we will be looking at “Enthronement Psalms” – which are Praise Psalms that include royalty / kingdom sort of language and tone. Next week we move on to a different category of Enthronement Psalms that look at the Davidic king – fulfilled in Christ. These are also called Messianic Psalms.

Notice the superscription of this Psalm: For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm. So this was a song to be used in the corporate worship of the community of Israel.

Most of you have heard of my educational background in music. It was before the launch of the contemporary churchmusic movement and thus was a largely classical-oriented education in choral and orchestral sacred music.

A part of me wishes that would have never changed. But in any event, so much of that era of music still rings through my ears in the juke-box of the mind. I don’t know how many people are like me in the following respect (I know I’m not alone): there is ALWAYS a song playing in the background in my brain.

Whatever the song is at any given time, it was likely triggered by some thought or event. And now for the next several days I can tell you that a whole series of choral pieces from 40 years ago are ringing through my head from a simple reading of this Psalm 47 today. And you can see why it would be such a great text for praising God as the Sovereign King over it all.

A favorite of those varied songs I’m hearing is one that began with the words from verse 8 today, repeated several times with long sustained tones supported by the bass strings section of the orchestra: “God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne.”  The final word “throne” is sustained with a crescendo, when suddenly the total mood changes into fast-moving and joyful notes of the beginning verse, “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.”

Let me ask this: Why should God’s people (be it in Israel at the time of the psalm’s writing, or in America in 2014) clap their hands and find joy in the knowledge that God is the great king over all the earth and all the nations? As I write this devotional on Sunday evening, 8/17/14, here are some headlines from wire news sources:

Iraq Kurdish Forces Launch Ground Offensive

Is the World Doing Enough to Stop ISIS Atrocities?

Netanyahu Warns Hamas on Rockets

Four Reasons to Worry about Pakistan’s Latest Political Crisis

Ukraine Forces Enter Rebel-Held City

Do you have any solutions for these problems that plague the world? The world is a mess; it has always been a mess. Nations and empires that hated Israel surrounded them in the era of the united kingdom under David and Solomon … and even more in the divided kingdom of Israel and Judah – Assyria, Egypt, Media, Persia, Babylon and a host of smaller national entities. And it remains the same today as Israel is massively outnumbered and under assault.

The same is true for Christians and democracies around the world. What will be the final geo-political outcome of the international war of Islamic extremists? How revived is Russia and Communist / Socialist ideologies such as we see happening in Crimea and the Ukraine? When will China peak in power and what does that mean for the rest of the world? Will there be an economic collapse in Western Europe? And how does the USA fit into all these crises?

So, is there any comfort or perspective to be had in the biblical truth that God reigns over the nations? Is it comforting to know that the bombastic and pompous dictators and political tyrants in the world are nothing more to God, and no more powerful, than a series of mice rushing about in a closed plastic maze?

I’m pretty much bottom-line glad about that! I’m pleased that the God who loved me enough to send Christ and effectually call me to Himself through his efficacious grace is the one who holds all the trump cards. Yep, I’ll clap for that.


1 Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.

2 For the Lord Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth.
3 He subdued nations under us, peoples under our feet.
4 He chose our inheritance for us, the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.

5 God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets.
6 Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.
7 For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise.

8 God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne.
9 The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham, for the kings of the earth belong to God; he is greatly exalted.