Psalm 47 Commentary

Psalm 47 Commentary

Let’s look at Psalm 47 together for this Psalm 47 Commentary.

In Psalm 47, we are confronted with the following theme: Universal Rejoicing for God’s Universal Reign.

Psalm 47 Commentary: Superscription

So, when we get to this psalm, like many other psalms, we first of all run across a superscription. So, let’s briefly look at that.

<[To/For] the [chief Musician/choir director/music director],
A Psalm
[for/of/by] the [sons of Korah/Korahites].>

So, Psalm 47 is one of 55 psalms that is addressed to the “chief Musician.”

It’s also one of 57 psalms labeled “a psalm” or in Hebrew mizmor.

And lastly, Psalm 47 is one of 11 psalms that’s attributed to the “sons of Korah.” In fact, the last three psalms we’ve studied – Psalms 44, 45, and 46 have also been attributed to these “sons of Korah.”

Psalm 47 Commentary: Rejoice Ye People!

And so, this psalm that’s intended for use by the chief Musician which was written by the sons of Korah starts by immediately commanding a certain group to commence a certain action in verse 1. Everyone is supposed to rejoice!

KJV Psalm 47:1 O clap your hands, all [ye people/peoples/you nations];
shout [unto/to/out to] God [with the voice of triumph/with the voice of joy/in celebration].

So, this group translated here as “ye people” is found four times in this psalm of 9 verses.

Here in this verse, this group is told to clap their hands in victory and to shout triumphantly.

Now, to whom and regarding whom are they rejoicing? To God!

And God is a central figure in this psalm as he is in the Scripture as a whole. The Hebrew word translated as “God” like we see in this verse appears 8 times in this short psalm. And God’s covenant name YAHWEH is found twice. In the King James Version, the pronoun “he” is used to refer to God five times. God is referred to as “king” or one who reigns 4 times in Psalm 47.

The point is that God the LORD and king is a central figure in this psalm. And he’s a king – not just over Israel. He’s king over all the people of the earth.

However… reality as we know it now doesn’t seem to agree with this declaration – that God rules the whole world. If you were to be bold enough to go out and ask anyone in your neighborhood, “Hey – who’s your king?” they would think you were crazy.

We have no king in this nation in which we live. And even if we did have a king in the USA, he certainly wouldn’t be the king of anyone in another country.

And yet, this psalm declares that God the Lord is king over absolutely everyone…

But again, I return us to our present reality and remind us that God really isn’t even king over his own chosen people – the nation of Israel. They – by-and-large – reject him to this day.

What – then – is this psalm talking about?

There are two possibilities that I think are legitimate.

First, this psalm could be saying that God is king even if his subjects – both Israel and the nations – don’t accept his ruling over them. And I think that’s true. But I do wonder if there’s something more to this psalm than just that.

I wonder about a second possibility…

Do you remember Psalm 46? Nature and the nations being disturbed – but then God comes and finally brings peace to all of them when he sends his Son Jesus Christ to rule the world. The river that makes glad the city of God in the Millennium, etc. And as we studied that psalm, we discovered that Psalm 46 will likely be sung by those who survive the Great Tribulation and enter into the Millennium.

Well, I think this psalm in front of us now – Psalm 47 – is a follow-up to that psalm.

The people enter the Millennial kingdom ruled by Jesus Christ and they look back on what he has brought them through. That’s Psalm 46.

And now, Psalm 47 is a psalm that will be sung by Israel as they realize that God literally rules both them and everyone on earth!

And Israel is rejoicing. And the nations that are subdued under Jesus Christ are rejoicing. And that’s what this psalm is all about. It’s the second Millennial psalm that we’ve come across in the last two psalms we’ve studied!

So, we see that the people – which is likely a reference to the Gentiles who will enter the Millennium from the Great Tribulation – are called on in verse 1 of this psalm to clap and shout with great joy and triumph.

Psalm 47 Commentary: God Rules Everyone

Why? Verse 2. God is ruling them now in the person of Jesus Christ their king!

2 For the [LORD most high/sovereign LORD] is [terrible/to be feared/awe-inspiring];
he is [a/the] great King [over all the/who rules the whole] earth.

And in the Millennium, Jesus Christ will literally and bodily rule from his throne in Jerusalem. We know that from New Testament teaching.

But in this verse here, who does it say will rule the whole earth in the Millennium?

It’s the LORD. Yahweh. Jehovah.

Now, you’re aware of a group that calls itself Jehovah’s Witnesses. And one of their chief purposes for existing is to deny that Jesus Christ is God come in flesh.

But have they not read Psalm 47, verse 2? Because this verse clearly states that the one who will rule over the entire earth is none other than YAHWEH – Jehovah. And we know from the rest of Scripture that it’s Jesus Christ who will rule over the entire earth in the Millennium.

And therefore… Jesus Christ is YAHWEH – Jehovah!

And a group like the JWs or the Mormons or Muslims or liberal Protestants will seek to deny that this is the case. And yet, we have God’s word declaring to us and to them that someday these groups and everyone else will be ruled by God the Son – Jesus Christ – God incarnate. And they will discover what verse 2 tells us – that he is to be feared – he’s terrible in that sense.

Psalm 47 Commentary: How God Will Be King

But again, we must ask ourselves how this is going to happen. Because, once more, we look around and we see God ruling apparently no one.

I mean, he has no throne. Humanity is currently allowed to just do as we please, more-or-less.

So, how is it going to come to pass that Yahweh God is going to be king over not just his people – but over the entire earth?

That’s what verse 3 explains.

3 He [shall subdue/subdues/subdued] [the people/peoples/nations] [under/beneath] us,
and [the nations/nations/countries] under our feet.

And I think what is so interesting is that those very people that we heard about in verse 1 – the ones who are called on to rejoice in God’s ruling over them – they’re going to need to be brought to a place where they are ready and willing to rejoice in that kind of arrangement – of God ruling over them and of them submitting to that rule.

Because it’s not natural for sinful men to joyfully submit to God. And so, God is going to need to do something to make this happen. And that something is the Great Tribulation and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

And when Christ returns and defeats the enemies of his people – something very interesting will happen. He will subdue those enemies under the feet of his people.

And we need to consider what is usually the reaction of a vanquished enemy? How do defeated opponents usually respond to their triumphing foe? Maybe sorrow, misery, bitterness, vengefulness…

But that’s not how the “people” entering the Millennium will feel. They will do what we’ve already seen them commanded to do. That is, they will rejoice!

They will rejoice to be subdued. Even to be subdued under the power of God’s covenant people will be a joy to them. That’s the way it is when we get rightly related to the God of the universe. There is a joy in submission – a joy in him conquering us, as it were.

Psalm 47 Commentary: Israel Inherits the Land

And in the Millennium, not only will Israel’s enemies be no more a threat to them – indeed, they’ll be worshippers alongside of God’s people! – but also, Israel will be finally given their land that God promised so long ago to their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We read about that in verse 4.

4 He [shall choose/chooses/picked out] [our inheritance/a special land] for us,
[the excellency of/the glory of/to be a source of pride for] Jacob whom he [loved/loves].

Selah.

And that land has never been fully inherited by Israel up to this day. But it will be – when Jesus Christ comes to be a king over all the earth.

And to the original Hebrew audience of this psalm – and to the future Jewish recipients of this treasured land – this is such joyful news that the author of this psalm was inspired to add a “selah” – which if that means something like a high point or crescendo – is very fitting for how they’ll feel about finally getting their land in-full after literally thousands of years of collective waiting.

Psalm 47 Commentary: Jesus Ascends the Throne

Well, then verse 5 brings us to the scene of Jesus Christ ascending the throne when he comes to rule the earth.

5 God [is gone up/has ascended (his throne)] [with a shout/amid loud shouts],
the LORD [i.e., has ascended his throne…] [with the sound of a trumpet (shofar)/amid the blaring of ram’s horns].

And so, just picture this glorious scene. Jesus Christ has returned and saved Israel. He has come back with resurrected saints – with you and me, I trust. And here we all are – after millennia of everyone else being on the throne and ruling and doing whatever they think is best and messing everything up and stealing glory from the true sovereign – after all of the sin and death this world has suffered through – ah, now the rightful owner of this place takes his seat for a thousand years.

And he’s going to make everything right. No more injustice. Perfect peace and love and joy. Everyone and everything in total harmony under the loving and kind and powerful rule of our Savior – the Lord Jesus Christ!

Psalm 47 Commentary: Response of Joy

So, how are you going to react when you see this? And I phrase it that way on purpose. You will see this! Do you believe that?

How are you going to react when you see Jesus Christ ascend the throne in Jerusalem?

Well, you and I actually already know how we’re going to respond. Because we’re told in verse 6. This is how you and I will respond when we see Jesus Christ mount his throne in Jerusalem.

6 Sing praises to God, sing praises:
sing praises [unto/to] our King, sing praises.

So, do you suppose that when we see Jesus Christ mounting the throne in Jerusalem that we might possibly … “sing praises?” Yes! We’re going to sing praises!

Four times here in this verse alone we’re commanded to do this. We should do this to God in this life – and we will certainly do it when we’re resurrected and witnessing Jesus Christ finally taking what’s rightfully his – the throne from which he will rule over the entire world.

Psalm 47 Commentary: God is the Universal King

And that’s the joyful reality that we’re reminded of in verse 7 – that God the Son will be the universal king.

7 For God is the King of [all the/the whole] earth:
sing ye praises with [understanding/a skillful psalm/a well-written song].

Now, that word translated in the KJV as “understanding” is the Hebrew word maskil. It has to do with skill or wisdom or prudence.

So, the response of the people over which Jesus will rule is and will be to sing skillful praises to him. Praises that take some thought and creativity and contemplation.

We’ll do it in the Millennium when we see his coronation. We should do it now as he rules in our hearts.

Psalm 47 Commentary: God’s Holy Rule

And perhaps an Old Testament Hebrew might think that ruling over the Gentiles – the goyim – and God’s holiness would be mutually exclusive realities. After all, the Gentiles were ceremonially unclean – and unclean in so many other ways in the Old Testament economy.

And yet, God makes it clear in verse 8 that Jesus Christ’s future reign over the entire earth – including Gentiles – will in no way detract from his holiness.

8 God [reigneth/reigns] over the [heathen/nations]:
God [sitteth/sits] [upon/on] [the throne of his holiness/his holy throne].

Christ’s throne will be holy. It will be completely unique. Unlike any other monarch in the history of the world.

Christ will be a just ruler. He has never sinned, he will never sin. He cannot be bribed. He is omniscient. Nothing will escape his notice. He will not persecute good. He will be a terror to evil in the purest way.

His throne and his rule will be completely different – it will be holy.

Psalm 47 Commentary: Jew and Gentile

And in that bright future day when Jesus Christ rules on earth – the reality that we know of in the Church – of Jew and Gentile together in one body – will be fully realized on an international scale according to verse 9.

9 The [princes/nobles] of the [people/nations] [are gathered together/have assembled themselves/assemble],
[even/as/along with] the people of the God of Abraham:

for the [shields/rulers/ones who shield their people] of the earth [belong unto/are under the authority of] God:
he is [greatly/highly] exalted.

So, the psalmist is prophesying that the princes of the people – and I take that as a reference to the rulers of the Gentiles or the non-Jews – well, they gather together with the Jews – the people of the God of Abraham.

Or that could be translated to say that the rulers of the people will gather together as the people of the God of Abraham.

In other words – whereas currently a person is either a Jew or not – in the Millennium there will be the closest of connections between Jew and Gentile. The Gentile people will be either with the people who have worshipped Yahweh for millennia – or the Gentile people will be considered as if they actually were the people who have worshipped Yahweh for millennia.

And that’s because the shields – and those who wield those weapons of war – will belong to God at that point in earth’s history.

And for this reason, God will be highly exalted. And as we wait for these promised realities to materialize, we ought to highly exalt this God – who is our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ – and who will one day cause us and the entire universe to rejoice in his universal reign.

So, as we go to prayer tonight, lets obey Jesus’ admonition to pray that God’s kingdom would come – and that there would soon be Universal Rejoicing for God’s Universal Reign.

Psalm 46 Meaning

Psalm 46 Meaning

Let’s open our Bibles to Psalm 46 to discover the Psalm 46 meaning.

Psalm 46 has been a joy for me to study. And I trust it will be a blessing to you as we go through it.

Studying the psalms has been really enjoyable for me, because there’s always something new. And from lesson to lesson I never know quite what I’m going to discover in my studies that I can then bring to our assembly.

And for the psalm before us right now – Psalm 46 – the real surprise to me has been how applicable this psalm is to a certain time period in the history of the world. And that time period would be the end of the Great Tribulation into the Millennial – the thousand year – reign of Jesus Christ.

And I’ve almost been suspicious that perhaps I’m reading too much into the psalm. And yet, in order to avoid the Millennial implications of this psalm, I would really have to try very hard – really to the point of dishonesty.

So, instead of doing that, we’ll let the Bible speak and receive it as it is and try our best to understand it and rejoice in its truth right now.

So, let’s start by examining the superscription to this psalm…

<[To/For] the [chief Musician/choir director]
[for/a psalm of/by] the [sons of Korah/Korahites],
[A Song upon/Set to/According to the style of] Alamoth.>

So, this is one of 55 psalms that are addressed to “the chief Musician.” (FYI: The others are 4-6,8-9,11-14,18-22,31,36,39-42,44-47,49,51-62,64-70,75-77,80-81,84-85,88,109,139-140)

This is also one of 11 psalms that are said to be “for the sons of Korah.” (FYI: The others are 42,44-49,84-85,87-88)

But one thing this psalm doesn’t share with any other psalm is this mention of it being “upon Alamoth.” The one other place where that phrase is mentioned is in the context of bringing the Ark of the Covenant up to Jerusalem from Obed-Edom’s house under the reign of King David. There, some men tuned their harps to this style of music. The term literally means “young women” which has made some think that perhaps this was a tune that required high voices – like the voices of sopranos.

And so, this song – that is to be set to this tune of Alamoth for or by the sons of Korah to be performed by the chief Musician – begins like this.

KJV Psalm 46:1 God is our [refuge and strength/strong refuge],
[a very present/he is truly our] [help/helper] in [i.e., times of…] trouble.

So, the psalmist is declaring that in his estimation, he considers God to be his strong refuge.

A refuge is something you can escape to for safety.

And – you know – this world has its refuges. People who reject God can try to take refuge in an altered state of mind through the abuse of alcohol and drugs. Money can appear to be a refuge to those without Christ. It seems to protect people from trouble.

And yet, these refuges will not stand the test. These refuges that men run to in times of trouble will fold – they do fold.

But not God. God is a strong refuge. We can escape to him when we’re in danger and he is there for us.

And that’s because – unlike the world’s refuges – God is able to do something about the things that are troubling us. He is a very present help in trouble.

Well, what kind of trouble are we talking about? What kind of trouble does God provide refuge from?

Nature Disturbed

And that’s where the psalmist is going to point to mankind’s tendency to fear when natural disasters strike in verses 2 and 3 as the particular trouble he’s thinking about.

2 [Therefore/For this reason] [will/do] not we fear,
[though/when] the earth [be removed/should change/shakes],
and though the mountains [be carried/slip/tumble] into the [midst/heart/depths] of the sea;

3 Though the [waters/waves] thereof [roar/crash] and [be troubled/foam],
though the mountains [shake/quake] [with the swelling thereof/at its swelling pride/before the surging sea].

Selah.

Now, if the term selah as some suggest marks a crescendo – then this would be it. Picture what the psalmist is envisioning. Earth, mountains, and waters all in an uproar all at the same time. If you were to find yourself in a situation in which all this was happening at once, you would be terrified.

And yet – even if this terrible combination of events were to be taking shape around you – you and I can feel the strength and the help of our God who is our refuge in times of distress. Even in times of natural disasters.

And this is where we would start to do a disservice to the entire Scripture if we failed to remember that Jesus Christ warned us that there is coming a time when things like what the psalmist just mentioned will happen. There will be great earthquakes. People will be perplexed by the roaring of the sea and its waves. That’s all according to Luke chapter 21.

And Revelation 6:14 describes a scene of the end times in which mountains are moved out of their places.

So, we can look at Psalm 46 and leave it in the realm of metaphor – but we have a good deal of evidence that these kinds of things will literally happen.

And they will happen during the Great Tribulation. And so, I think we’re starting to get the picture that this psalm will be sung by those who enter the Millennium from the Tribulation.

They’ll be joyfully praising God – “He is our strong refuge! He has been to us a very present help in the trouble and tribulation we’ve gone through! In fact, we’ve seen great earthquakes, mountains moving from their places, and the sea roaring – but we could be fearless because of our strong protecting God!

Nature at Peace

Well, moving on, the author of this psalm really seems to enjoy going from one extreme of – on the one hand – chaos and danger and disorder to – on the other – peace and tranquility and serenity – all because of God being our refuge.

And so, we saw the temptation to fear caused by a multitude of natural disasters. And that’s now followed up by a picture of a peaceful quiet river flowing through the city of God in verses 4 and 5.

4 There is a river, the [streams/channels] whereof [shall make glad/bring joy to] the city of God,
the holy [place of the tabernacles/dwelling places] of the [most High/sovereign One].

5 God [is in the midst of her/lives within it];
[she/it] [shall not/cannot] be moved: [i.e., in contrast to the mountains and earth, etc.…]

God [shall help her/rescues it],
[and that right early/when morning dawns/at the break of dawn].

So, what a contrast we have. After the raging of nature – which we don’t fear because God is our refuge – now we have the calm and serene scene of a river flowing through God’s city. And the streams of this river make that city glad. Not anxious and fearful – like the scene we just left earlier. But glad.

And this city is the place which houses these “holy tabernacles” or dwelling places “of the most High.” And because of that “God is in the midst of her.” He dwells there in those tabernacles or dwelling places.

And because of that, this city “shall not” and cannot “be moved.” And it’s that way because God – who’s in the midst of that city – will defend it. He will “help” it “right early.” And that’s a picture of help for this city when morning dawns or when dawn breaks. In other words – right away.

What City is Made Glad?

Now, I think we’re all wondering – what city is the psalmist speaking of? You might assume he’s talking about Jerusalem. After all, that’s where the holy dwelling places of God were in the Old Testament.

And I think that’s right. He’s speaking of Jerusalem.

And yet, there’s one problem with identifying this city as Jerusalem.

Jerusalem has no rivers.

There’s the Jordan River off to the east about 20 miles. But it’s kind of hard to imagine that he’s speaking of that river that’s so far away making glad God’s city.

Let me put it in terms that might be helpful for us. Our church in Whitewater, WI here is 20 miles away from Rock Lake in Lake Mills. It’s about 20 miles away from Phantom Lake in Mukwonago. And it’s about 20 miles away from Geneva Lake in Williams Bay/Lake Geneva. The same distance that Jerusalem is from the Jordan River.

It would be strange to think of Rock Lake or Phantom Lake or Geneva Lake making glad the city of Whitewater. The distance is too great.

And I think the same would hold true for Jerusalem and the Jordan River. They’re just too far away from each other to be correlated like that.

So, how do we make sense of what the psalmist is saying here? He’s saying that Jerusalem will be made glad by a river.

And this is where the Millennial emphasis of this psalm really starts to get unavoidable.

This is a prophetic reference and it’s looking forward to Jerusalem in the Millennium.

Actually, twice in Scripture we hear of a river flowing from Jerusalem. Once in the Millennial Jerusalem and once in the New Jerusalem.

River in Millennial Jerusalem

Millennial Jerusalem is revealed to us in Ezekiel 47. So, let’s turn there.

In Ezekiel 47 we’re in the middle of the prophet Ezekiel being led around by an angelic figure and being shown a future temple – so it can’t be Solomon’s temple, of course, which was in the past from Ezekiel’s time reference.

Further, this temple in Ezekiel is not the temple constructed by the returned exiles after the Babylonian Captivity. Neither is it the temple constructed by Herod the Great.

How do we know that? Well, let’s read what Ezekiel is shown in his vision to see if it sounds anything like these other temples. We’ll read verses 1 through 12 of Ezekiel 47.

KJV Ezekiel 47:1 ¶ Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the [house/temple]; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar.

2 Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side.

3 ¶ And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles.

That’s about 1,500 ft east of the Temple Mount which would be right about at the base of the Mount of Olives…

 4 Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees.

That’s about 3,000 ft east of the Temple Mount, which is the spot where tourists usually stop to take a look at the Temple Mount from a high spot on the Mount of Olives…

Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins.

By the way, this is about 4,500 ft east of the Temple Mount, which is right on top of the Mount of Olives – really close to the biblical city of Bethphage. Now, water doesn’t flow up mountains. So, how is this water going to be flowing up this mountain? The answer: It won’t. Remember – at the end of the Tribulation, according to Zechariah 14:4, Jesus Christ’s feet will touch the Mount of Olives and split it west to east, creating a huge valley. That’s how this water is going to be flowing east out of the Temple like we’re seeing here…

 5 Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over.

And this is about 6,000 ft east of the Temple Mount, which is about where the Mount of Olives currently starts sloping down toward the Dead Sea…

 6 ¶ And he said unto me,

Son of man, hast thou seen this?

Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river.

7 Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other.

8 Then said he unto me,

These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.

And so, in other words, this water coming from the temple in the Millennium will go east through the new valley hewn into the Mount of Olives – past where it currently starts to descend toward the Dead Sea and it will make the salt water of the Dead Sea non-salty…

 9 And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: [i.e., which currently doesn’t happen in the DEAD Sea – but will in the Millennium…] and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.

10 And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from Engedi [i.e., which is on the western shore of the Dead Sea – about 23.5 miles southeast of Jerusalem…] even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea [i.e., Mediterranean Sea…], exceeding many.

11 But the [miry places/swamps] [thereof/of the river] and the marishes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt.

12 And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for [meat/food], whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof [be consumed/wither]: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for [meat/food], and the leaf thereof for [medicine/healing].

So, Ezekiel sees this vision of a river flowing from the Temple in Jerusalem. This is the Millennial Temple.

And with the water flowing from that Temple changing the Dead Sea into a living sea filled with fish – with fruit trees surrounding the river and the sea – you can understand how this river will “make glad the city of God!”

River in New Jerusalem

But let’s briefly look at the other river that comes from Jerusalem in Revelation chapter 22…

And all the information we have on it is in verses 1 and 2 of Revelation 22…

KJV Revelation 22:1 ¶ And he [i.e., the angel who was showing John all of these things…] shewed me [i.e., the Apostle John…] a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. [i.e., not the Temple, but the throne – Rev 21:22 declares that there will be no Temple in the New Jerusalem…]

2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

OK, so I will say that I think that this river is different from the river in Ezekiel 47.

In Ezekiel 47 the river is coming from the Temple. In Revelation 21 we’re told that there is no Temple and so the river in Revelation 22 is coming from the throne of God – not a physical Temple.

The vision in Ezekiel 47 must relate to the Millennium – when Christ will reign on the earth from Jerusalem. The vision in Revelation 22 – on the other hand – is of a time after the Millennium – after Satan leads one last rebellion against Jesus Christ and is destroyed once and for all.

So, let’s bring this back to Psalm 46. I believe that the river mentioned in Psalm 46 is this river from Ezekiel 47.

Psalm 46 is Unavoidably Millennial

And really, I think we can now see that Psalm 46 is thoroughly Millennial. Now, I’m sure that this psalm was used by ancient Israel as they went to war and had the Lord deliver and protect them from their enemies.

And yet, the Apostle Peter tells us that Old Testament prophets didn’t always know what exactly their prophecies would turn out to be. They searched concerning what time the Spirit of Christ was indicating to them and so forth.

So, it’s entirely possible that the Holy Spirit breathed out through the psalmist here a psalm that is really going to be used in all its glorious meaning in the Millennium when Christ reigns from Jerusalem.

And so, think about it. How does this psalm start? God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in time of trouble. Don’t you suppose that Israel will be declaring this after 7 years of Tribulation and then their sudden deliverance by their God the Lord Jesus Christ?

And because God is our strong refuge we won’t fear – even when the mountains start falling into the sea and the sea is roaring and nature just seems to be going crazy! And isn’t that what Israel will experience in the Tribulation right before the Millennium?

And then – there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God. God is in her midst. She won’t be moved. He will protect her. Is this not what Israel will experience in that great Millennial day when God is literally in the midst of her in the person of his Son Jesus Christ?

So, yes, this psalm is thoroughly Millennial in its emphasis – whether or not the psalmist himself even knew it.

Nations Disturbed

And now, we’re going to see the psalmist transition from peace and calm back to thinking of things that are chaotic and out of order. He’s already spoken of how he wouldn’t fear even when nature was out of control. But now in verse 6 he’s going to speak of the nations being out of control.

6 The [heathen/nations] [raged/made an uproar/are in uproar],
the kingdoms [were moved/tottered/are overthrown]:

And this will certainly happen in the Tribulation right before the Millennium.

Nations Subdued

But then God will step-in in the person of Jesus Christ and this will happen…

he [uttered his voice/raised his voice/gives a shout],
the earth [melted/dissolves].

And the emphasis given to God’s voice here is interesting in light of the fact that when Jesus returns in Revelation 19 we’re told that he will slay Israel’s enemies with what? With the sword of his … mouth!

His voice which comes from his mouth melts the earth in Psalm 46. And the sword that comes from his mouth slays the enemies of Israel in Revelation. Notice the connection with his mouth and the destruction of the wicked.

Jesus: The Lord of Hosts

And so, when Jesus comes to finish the Tribulation – he isn’t alone. He comes with the armies of heaven according to Revelation 19:14. He will be the Lord who commands armies – or another way to put it in familiar Old Testament terminology – he’s the Lord of … hosts.

That’s the one who will be with Israel in the Millennium – as they will recognize at that point and as the psalmist foretells in verse 7…

7 The LORD [of hosts/who commands armies] is [with us/on our side];
the God of Jacob is our [refuge/stronghold/protector].

Selah.

Now, Jesus Christ is known as Immanuel – God with us. And here – when Jesus finally defeats his foes and the foes of his people – he’ll be known as Yahweh with us. That’s what they’re declaring here.

And this reality – that Yahweh will be with them is such an amazing fact that they’re not going to say this just once in this short psalm of 11 verses – but they’ll say it twice.

And once again this reality of Yahweh being with them is so amazing that they see to it that they add a selah after stating this amazing new reality for them.

Destruction Marks His Coming

Well, when Jesus – whose name means “Yahweh saves” – comes to physically and spiritually save his people the Jews and usher in his Millennial reign, it obviously won’t be without quite a bit of destruction. He needs to destroy all the numberless armies that have gathered against Israel in those future days.

And so, the psalmist actually looks forward to that reality in verse 8.

8 Come, [behold/witness] the [works/exploits] of the LORD,
what [desolations/destructions] he hath [made/wrought/brought] [in/to] the earth.

And so, yes – Jesus will bring a good deal of destruction with him when he comes to set things right on this earth.

Peaceful Result

And yet, here’s the peaceful result of his violent second-coming…

9 He [maketh wars to cease/brings and end to wars] [unto the end of/through] the earth;
he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in [sunder/two];
he burneth the chariot in the fire.

So, you might be aware that World War 1 was known as the “War to End All Wars.” And yet, it’s pretty obvious that that war didn’t live up to that ambitious alias.

But there will be a war to end all wars – at least for one thousand years. And it’s called the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of the Great Tribulation.

And this is an event foretold in both New and Old Testaments. In fact, Isaiah chapter 2 gives us a glimpse into this time when Jesus reigns from Jerusalem. I’ll read verses 2 through 4 of that chapter where the prophet says…

 2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

3 And many people shall go and say,

Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths:

for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

4 And he [i.e., Jesus!…] shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

So, no more war between nations. That will be the reality when Jesus Christ comes to reign on the earth from Jerusalem. That’s what we’re told in the New Testament. That’s what we see in this psalm. That’s what we hear about in Isaiah. It’s all over the Scripture – this blessed reality that is quickly coming!

A Message of Peace

And in light of this reality – that Jesus Christ is coming again and will rule and establish perfect peace and justice on this earth, he has a message for us that’s just as applicable for us as it was for the original recipients of this psalm – in verse 10…

10 [i.e., He says…] [Be still/Cease striving/Stop striving], and [know/recognize] that I am God:
I will be exalted [among/over] the [heathen/nations],
I will be exalted [in/over] the earth.

Folks, it’s certain. Jesus is coming back to this earth. And when he does, every wrong will be made right.

Your crumbling body will be brand new. Where you experience poverty on whatever level, that’ll be taken care of. Your relationships will be in perfect harmony. You will never be hungry or thirsty again. You will never ever again struggle with sin. You will never be confused again. You will never be afraid of violence or war.

It’s coming! Because Jesus is coming.

But he’s not here yet. And these blessings that I’ve just mentioned and so many more aren’t ours… YET!

But they will be. Some day. And so, what God wants us to do right now as we wait for these things is to be still. Be calm. Don’t strive in anxiety and fear.

Instead, know and recognize that Jesus Christ is God. And he’ll see to it that he will be exalted over the nations and in all the earth. And everything will be made right when his kingdom comes.

Trust him to do this in his timing. Be patient. Be calm. Be looking for Christ’s return. He’s coming again and that’s a sure thing.

Jesus is With Us Now

And this one who is coming soon, is even now with us. The psalmist ends by repeating what we’ve already seen in verse 7…

11 The LORD [of hosts/who commands armies] is [with us/on our side];
the God of Jacob is our [refuge/stronghold/protector].

Selah.

And is this not what Jesus promised? That he would be with us always – even to the end of the world.

Jesus will be with us in this world in a special way in the future. And Jesus is with us right now as we serve him.

So, be still. Recognize his sovereignty in your life. And let’s pray with these realities in mind.

Psalm 44 Message / Psalm 44 Commentary / Psalm 44 Sermon

Psalm 44 Message

Open your Bibles to Psalm 44. The 44th Psalm for this Psalm 44 message…

I accidentally skipped this psalm last time and went to Psalm 45. So, we’ll circle back and cover this psalm now.

Psalm 44 is a lament psalm. And in it, we’ll see the psalmist:

1.      Remembering that God performed mighty deeds in the past for his people

2.      Desiring God to perform mighty deeds now

3.      Lamenting God’s recent chastening of his people

4.      Appealing to God that his chastening is not a result of their sin

5.      And then calling on God to again engage in his mighty deeds on their behalf

So, that’s a summary of the flow of this psalm.

Superscription

Now, let’s begin with the superscription of Psalm 44.

KJV Psalm 44:1 <To the [chief Musician/choir director/music director]
[for/of] the sons of Korah,
[Maschil/Well-written song].>

And I have a few facts from this superscription that I think you might find interesting.

First, this is one of 55 psalms that are addressed to this “Chief Musician.” Additionally, Habakkuk 3:19 also references the man who held this position. And so, this “Chief Musician” must be a position rather than a single individual, since he’s referenced through quite a long span of time.

Second, since we’re considering statistics, this psalm is one of 11 psalms that are “to the sons of Korah.”

Third and last – this psalm is one of 13 psalms that – at the beginning of the psalm – tell you that it is a “Maschil” or perhaps a well-written song.

Remembering that God performed mighty deeds in the past

So, moving on from the superscription of this psalm, we’ll now see the psalmist remembering that God performed mighty deeds for his people in the past in verses 1-3.

We have heard with our ears, O God,
our fathers have told us,

Well, what have they heard and what had their fathers told them?

what work thou didst in their days,
in the times of old.

And yet, God’s done a lot of work over the ages. Is there a particular work that they’re thinking of? Yes…

2 How thou didst drive out the [heathen/nations] with thy hand,
and plantedst [them/our fathers];

how thou didst [afflict/crush] the people,
and cast them out.

And so, what event is the psalmist hearkening back to here? That would be when God brought Israel into the Promised Land of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua.

And when God did that for Israel, there was a good deal of fighting involved. And yet, the psalmist confesses that the strength of Israel wasn’t what got them the land. Rather, God’s power did that for them.

3 For they got not the land in possession by their own sword,
neither did [their own arm save them/they prevail by their strength]:

but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance [i.e., saved them…],
because thou [hadst a favour/were partial] unto them.

So, God performed these mighty deeds in ancient times for Israel – not because they were great – but because he favored them.

And that’s the case for Christians – for this church. The only way we will prevail on a spiritual level is if God decides to favor us. And any success we have won’t be by our own devices – but by his strength at work in us.

Desiring God to perform mighty deeds now

And as is so often the case, a reminder of God’s past mighty deeds grows in us a greater desire to see him perform those kinds of deeds in our own lifetime.

And so, that’s what the psalmist does next. In verses 4-8 he expressed a desire for God to perform mighty deeds right now in his lifetime.

4 Thou art my King, O God[:/!]
[command/decree] [deliverances/victories] for Jacob[./!]

And if God commands deliverances for his people, this is what will happen.

5 Through [the power of…] thee will we [push/drive] [down/back] our [enemies/adversaries]:
through thy [name/strength] will we [tread them under/trample down those] that rise up against us.

And that might sound like the psalmist is proudly boasting of his own strength and the strength of God’s people. But that’s not at all what he’s wanting to communicate. Because he knows that any victory that God’s present-day people have will come about just the same way that God’s people of old experienced victory – by God’s strength.

6 For I [will/do] not trust in my bow,
neither shall my sword save me.

7 But [i.e., rather than saving myself…] thou [hast saved/deliver/will deliver] us from our enemies,
and [hast/will] [put them to shame/humiliated them] that hated us.

And therefore – because the psalmist is expecting God to grant deliverance from enemies and give success…

8 In God [we/I] boast all the day long,
and [praise/we will thank] thy name [for ever/continually].

Selah.

And so, when we go to prayer, we can remember the way that God has worked with his people in times past – both in our church and more broadly wherever he’s given success to his people on the earth.

And at the same time – we can beg him to work the same kind of awesome deeds that he’s proven he can do in times past.

Lamenting God’s recent chastening

And yet, the desire of the psalmist for God to perform mighty deeds in his time like he did in the old days faces one serious obstacle. It’s the fact that God has been chastening the psalmist and his people according to verses 9-16.

9 [But/Yet] thou hast [cast off/rejected], and [put us to shame/brought us to dishonor/embarrassed us];
and goest not forth [into battle…] with our armies.

So, it used to be that the Lord would go with Israel as they conquered the land of Canaan. But at this point in the psalmist’s life that has stopped happening in Israel.

Instead…

10 Thou makest us [to turn back/retreat] from the [enemy/adversary]:
and they which hate us [spoil/have taken spoil/take whatever they want] for themselves.

11 Thou hast [given/handed over] us like sheep [appointed for meat/to be eaten];
and hast scattered us among the [heathen/nations].

And with that statement being made, you wonder if perhaps this psalm was written during the Babylonian exile when Israel was scattered among the heathen.

And yet, since the psalmist has mentioned the presence of “armies” of Israel – the setting of this psalm probably is not the Babylonian exile since Israel wouldn’t have had armies at that point.

So, this psalm must have occurred sometime before the exile to Babylon – and of course sometime after the conquering of Canaan.

It could have happened under the reign of just about any of the wicked kings of either northern Israel or southern Judah – when God would have been displeased with his people and allowed enemies to come in and take things and people captive.

And yet, what we’ll see later in this psalm indicates that the people weren’t being scattered and chastened for their own sin. So, it’s quite difficult to pinpoint the background to this psalm. And were not the only ones to struggle on that point – Charles Spurgeon and Matthew Henry also don’t really know the setting of the psalm.

So, we’ll proceed.

Now, when a person attempts to get rid of something valuable, he’ll usually try to get top dollar for that thing.

And yet, the psalmist goes on to declare that God gave away his people for nothing.

12 Thou [sellest/sold] thy people [for nought/cheaply/for a pittance],
and dost not increase thy wealth by their price. [You haven’t profited by their sale…]

And so, as a result of God’s giving away his people to their enemies, those very enemies – and, really, anyone who saw what was happening to Israel – were shocked at what God was allowing to happen to them – his own covenant people!

13 Thou makest us [a reproach/an object of disdain] to our neighbours,
a [scorn/scoffing/taunt] and [a derision/insult] to them [they do these things to us…] that [are round about us/live on our borders].

14 Thou makest us [a byword/an object of ridicule] among the [heathen/nations],
a [shaking of the head/laughingstock] among [the people/foreigners]. [i.e., they treat us with contempt…]

And so, as a result of God’s granting defeat after defeat to his people and giving his people over to their enemies, the psalmist is in emotional turmoil.

15 My [confusion/dishonor] is [continually/all day long] before me,
and [the shame of my face/my humiliation] hath [covered/overwhelmed] me,

16 [For/Because of/Before] the voice of him that [reproacheth/ridicules] and [blasphemeth/reviles/insults];
by reason of [i.e., the presence of…] the [enemy and avenger/vindictive enemy].

So, the psalmist has remembered God’s mighty deeds of old.

He has expressed his strong desire for blessings along the lines of what God’s people formerly have enjoyed.

And yet, we just saw the psalmist lament the fact that God has done just the opposite in his case. In the psalmist’s lifetime, God has not delivered his people from their enemies. He’s delivered his people to their enemies!

And that’s why it seems like God isn’t with them anymore. They experience defeat after defeat. Life is hard for them.

And I want to ask – have you experienced something similar to what this psalmist experienced?

Has your family recently in one way or another fallen on hard times – even though in past times God has been gracious to you?

What about your church? How has it been going for us? A little rough, I’d say. And that’s of course an understatement. We’ve had quite a bit of discouragement and defeat over the years.

Or maybe you’re associated in whatever ways with other ministries that have seen God’s rich blessings in times past – but now – despite your great desire for things to be different – those ministries are struggling.

So, I think we all know something of what this psalmist is struggling with.

Appealing to God that his chastening is not a result of sin

And I think that when we express concerns like this about our family or our church or whatever other ministries we’re involved with – that they’re struggling in numerous ways – I think that the immediate reaction of others to this news is something like the response of Job’s three friends to the suffering Job.

That is, Oh! I know why you’re struggling! It’s because of some sin issue or some deficiency on your part or your pastor’s part or the part of your ministry leader or whatever! Looking to place the blame on someone for the apparent withdrawal of blessings from the Lord.

And yet, we’re going to see the psalmist categorically deny that the chastening that God is bringing on his people has anything to do with sin.

And so, in verses 17-22, the psalmist appeals to God that the chastening they’re experiencing is not a result of national or personal sin.

17 All this [is come upon/has happened to] us; [yet/even though] have we not [forgotten/rejected] thee,
neither have we [dealt falsely in/violated] thy covenant [i.e., with us…].

And this verse is one more big reason why I think this psalm was not set during the Babylonian exile. Why? Because the people were in exile in Babylon precisely because of their forgetting God and dealing falsely in his covenant.

So, they’re being chastened without a doubt. And yet – equally undoubted is that – this chastening is not a punishment for sin.

And so, the psalmist continues…

18 Our heart is not turned back, [i.e., we have not been unfaithful…]
neither have our steps [declined/deviated] from thy way; [i.e., not have we disobeyed your commands…]

And so, the actions of the Lord in handing his people over to defeat and not going with their armies and giving them over to their enemies is simply rather unexpected in light of these things not being the result of sin.

19 [Though/Yet] thou hast [sore broken/crushed/battered] us [i.e., leaving us…] in [the/a] place of [dragons/jackals/wild dogs],
and covered us with [the shadow of death/darkness].

And so, the psalmist continues by declaring that if they were guilty of sin then God would make that known.

20 If we [have/had] [forgotten the name of/rejected] our God,
or stretched out our hands [i.e., in prayer…] to [a strange/another] god;

21 [Shall/Would] not God [search this out/find this out/discover it]?
for he knoweth [the secrets of the heart/one’s thoughts].

In other words, God knows everything. And he would know if the people were sinning to the extent that he had to punish them. And yet, that’s not the case here and God knows it. That’s what the psalmist is maintaining.

Well… then… why are God’s people experiencing defeat at the hands of their enemies? This is crucial. Verse 22.

22 [Yea/But/Yet], [for thy sake/because of you] are we killed all the day long;
we are [counted/considered/treated] as sheep [for the slaughter/to be slaughtered/at the slaughtering block].

So, there it is, folks. Did you know that there’s another possibility as to why a family or a church or another type of ministry is experiencing defeat – rather than the pat answer that sin is involved?

Why the defeat? It’s for the Lord’s sake. It’s because of the Lord.

And just like Job and just like this psalmist, we ultimately don’t know why. Why the defeat? We have no clue – except that it’s for the Lord’s sake. He has plans beyond what we can fathom. His ways are higher than ours.

And this is on the mind of the apostle Paul when in Romans 8 he speaks of the worrying and dangerous and deadly things that we might tend to think will threaten to separate us from the love of God.

Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine (not enough to eat), nakedness (not enough to wear), peril, sword. And then Paul points to this passage as a reference. As if to say – do you remember Psalm 44 and how it talks about godly people suffering – but not for their sin???

And then Paul consoles us that we are more than conquerors in all these things through the one who loved us. And you know what? The one who loves us is the one who brings these things on us – persecution, distress, etc. He loves us. And when he sends these things to us, it’s not because he hates us. It’s not even necessarily chastening for sin. It’s all for his sake.

And so, Paul ends Romans 8 with an air of confidence that nothing – none of these things mentioned – will ever separate us from God’s love in Christ.

So, I have a few questions for us.

Has our church gone through hard times? Yes.

Can I or anyone else promise that the hard times are over? Will getting a new pastor – for example – magically end the hard times for our assembly? No.

Should we be at all surprised if harder times actually come? No.

If harder times come, does that mean that we’re separated from God? … No! It doesn’t even necessarily mean that he’s chastening us for sins. All it means is that God has a plan. And he’s enacting that plan for his sake in a way that only he fully understands.

And when it comes down to it, his plans that he works through our sufferings are – in his mind – just a glorious as his mighty deeds of delivering his people. God’s causing us to experience defeat is just as much in his plan as is his giving success in times past.

Whatever God does is right. He is always good.

Calling on God to renew his mighty deeds

And yet – even though we can trust that God’s ways are right and higher than ours – even when they include serious defeats and setbacks – we’re still encouraged to call on God to renew his mighty deeds of old – just like the psalmist does in verses 23-26 to end this psalm.

23 [Awake/Arouse yourself!], why sleepest thou, O Lord?
[arise/Awake/Wake up!], [cast us not off/do not reject us] for ever.

24 Wherefore [hidest thou thy face/do you look the other way],
and [forgettest/ignore] our affliction and our oppression? [i.e., how others are treating us…]

And we need to recognize that the psalmist is expressing the way he feels – not the literal reality of the situation.

What do I mean by that?

Well, does God sleep? No, he doesn’t. He slumbers not, nor sleeps.

Does God reject or cast off his people? No. He will never leave nor forsake us.

Does God hide his face? Does he forget his people’s affliction? No, not in reality.

And yet, this is exactly how the psalmist feels. He feels as though God is asleep – after all, he’s not listening to their cries for help!

He feels like God has rejected them – like God is playing a frustrating game where he hides his face from his people – like God might know what’s troubling his people, but unfortunately he doesn’t really care and so he just ignores them.

And isn’t God glorious for putting up with this kind of talk about himself? He demonstrates his awesome strength by allowing his weak people to probe that strength of his. To question it. To see if it’s really there – like they suspect that it is.

And yet, in the end, we all know – even the psalmist – that God’s power is awesome. I mean, the psalmist began this psalm magnifying what he knows that God did in the past and what he can do even now.

So, the psalmist doesn’t even really personally believe in what he just implied about God. But he’s communicating how he feels about his situation. And God graciously allowed for him to do that.

Because God is very patient with us very weak people. And that weakness is what the psalmist portrays in verse 25.

25 For our soul [is bowed/has sunk] down to the dust: [i.e., we lie in the dirt…]
our belly [cleaveth/pressed] unto the [earth/ground].

So, when it comes down to it, it’s God’s people – not God himself – who is in a position of weakness and neediness.

And so, the psalmist makes one final plea for God to graciously help them according to his mighty power.

26 [Arise/Rise up] [for/be] our help, [i.e., help us!…]
and [redeem/rescue] us [for/because of] thy [mercies’ sake/lovingkindness/loyal love].

So, the psalmist is asking for military victory for Israel here.

But for us in the church, we can identify with being redeemed for the sake of God’s loyal covenant love. And every single one of us who has put our trust in Jesus Christ has been redeemed. Why? Not for our own goodness – but for the sake of God’s mercy – his lovingkindness – his chesed.

And therefore – that being the case – to return to earlier thoughts – what can separate us from the love of God? Not even being treated as a sheep for slaughter. We overwhelmingly conquer through him who loves us.

And so, as we go to prayer – even if we’re experiencing a sense of God-forsakenness – let’s remember that we are not forsaken. God is not done with us yet. He might allow us to be treated like sheep in the line to be slaughtered. And yet, he is still with us working in and among us for his sake.

 

Let’s call on him to again do wonders among us. And let’s rest in the fact that nothing can separate us from his love in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 45 Commentary

Psalm 45 Commentary

Open your Bibles to Hebrews, chapter 1. (For this Psalm 45 commentary)

Psalm 45 in Hebrews 1

The author of Hebrews makes the point immediately in this book that Jesus Christ is God’s final speech. Look at verses 1 and 2.

KJV Hebrews 1:1 ¶ God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son…

And then the author goes on to speak of this Son and what he’s like and what he’s done.

And what’s he’s like and what he’s done is so glorious that the author can say in verse 4 of Jesus Christ…

KJV Hebrews 1:4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

And if we need proof of Jesus being better than the angels, that’s what Hebrews gives us for the rest of this chapter. It starts in verse 5…

KJV Hebrews 1:5 ¶ For unto which of the angels said he at any time,

Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?

And again,

I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

And the author of this book will go on to give several more quotes from the Old Testament in which he contrasts the unique position of the Son of God to the secondary and servile position of the angels.

But we want to focus on verses 8 and 9. Let’s read those.

KJV Hebrews 1:8 ¶ But unto the Son he saith,

Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever:
a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity;
therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee

with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

So, we see that the author of Hebrews clearly states that Jesus Christ – the Son of God – who is better than the angels – was addressed as “God” in the Old Testament.

And do you know what Psalm that quote is taken from? … It’s Psalm 45. And it just so happens that this is the next psalm on our path through studying through the book of Psalms.

So, let’s turn to that Psalm and study it in its context. Psalm 45. …

Superscription/Introduction

To begin, let’s read the superscription of this psalm.

KJV Psalm 45:1

<[To/For] the [chief Musician/choir director/music director]
[upon/according to the] [Shoshannim/tune of “Lilies”],
[for/of/by] the [sons of Korah/Korahites],
[Maschil/a well-written poem],
A [Song of loves/love song].>

So, we gather from this superscription a few things.

The primary fact that we take away from this part of the psalm is that this is a love song. And what we’ll see throughout this psalm is that it’s written on the occasion of the wedding of a Davidic king.

The fact that it’s according to Shoshannim – or “the lilies” gives it a more gentle feel, which is appropriate to a wedding love song.

And it’s a Maschil or probably a well-written psalm for such a momentous occasion.

Preparation for the subject matter

And so, now for the rest of verse 1 we are being prepared for the subject matter to come throughout this psalm.

My heart [is inditing/overflows with/is stirred by] a [good matter/good theme/beautiful song]:
I [speak of the things which I have made touching/address my verses to/say, “I have composed this special song for] the king:

my tongue is [the pen/as skilled as the stylus] of [a ready writer/an experienced scribe].

So, the psalmist is ready to write about this wonderful subject. Our anticipation should be building. Like – What could this good matter be that is so stirring to you heart? What would you like to tell us about with your pen-like tongue??

The beautiful subject

Well, here it is in verse 2 – the beautiful subject that we’ve been anticipating.

2 Thou art [fairer than/the most handsome of all] [the children of men/men]:
[grace is poured into thy lips/you speak in an impressive and fitting manner]:

[therefore/for this reason] God [hath blessed thee for ever/grants you continual blessings].

And I think that throughout this psalm we will be operating on two levels.

The first is that we recognize that this was written for a mere human Davidic king for his wedding procession. He’s on his way to his wedding and this love song has been written to accompany such an exciting and joyful event.

But at the same time, this psalm is thoroughly Messianic. And so, we can see how it relates to Jesus Christ and his bride the Church throughout.

The king was attractive and gracious

So, for verse 2, if we’re dealing on the human-only Davidic king-level, we see a king being praised for his handsome appearance and gracious speech and evident blessing from God.

Jesus is attractive and gracious

But as we look at it from the Messianic perspective, we see a Savior who is both inside and out the most beautiful man to ever live.

We see the man of Calvary whose speech – and whole life – was full of grace and truth.

We see the Nazarene who is – according to Romans 9 – God-blessed forever.

The King encouraged to engage in military exploits

And so, now in verses 3-5 this King is encouraged to engage in military exploits.

3 Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O [most mighty/mighty one/warrior],
[with/in/appear in] thy [glory and thy majesty/splendor and majesty/majestic splendor].

4 [And in thy majesty ride prosperously/Appear in your majesty and be victorious]
[because/for the cause/ride forth for the sake] of [truth and meekness/what is right] and [righteousness/on behalf of justice];

[and/then] thy right hand shall [teach thee/accomplish] [terrible things/awesome things/mighty acts].

5 Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies;
whereby [the people/nations] fall [under thee/at your feet].

The king was mighty in battle

And so, it’s easy to see how this kind of encouragement would fit into the life of a human Davidic king. He’s brave and he goes into battle for the protection and safety of his people. He’s their deliverer. And so much of the time, delivery comes as a result of fighting and war.

And so, even at this man’s wedding procession, the people are thinking of him in these terms of being a military hero and protector of his people.

Jesus will be mighty in battle

But if we look at this from a Messianic standpoint, we need to ask ourselves – what will Jesus need to do before he comes to enjoy his full reuniting with his Bride, the Church on earth?

Jesus is going to need to come on his white horse and destroy all the enemies of his people Israel and set up his Millennial Reign wherein his people will reign with him.

There we’ll see truth and meekness and righteous fully carried out in every way.

The King recognized as deity

Now, the next part of the psalm in verses 6 and 7 is honestly quite difficult to see on the merely-human level. Because it’s in these two verses that the King is actually recognized as deity.

6 Thy throne, O God, is [for ever and ever/permanent]:
the sceptre of thy kingdom is a [right/just] sceptre.

7 Thou lovest [righteousness/justice],
and hatest [wickedness/evil]:

therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee
with the oil of [gladness/joy] [elevating you…] above thy [fellows/companions].

And I wondered what Jewish people who don’t receive Jesus as their Messiah do with this verse. And so, I looked at one of their commentaries and they actually changed the word “God” in verse 6 to be “Judge.” And the commentator had this elaborate view of this passage – that it’s actually speaking not of a king but of teachers of the Torah.

Why? That’s because to a Jew who doesn’t recognize that Jesus is both man and God – Davidic King and Yahweh God – there’s not a whole lot he can do with this passage. If he wants to avoid the claims of Christ, then he needs to try to translate himself out of this uncomfortable reality – that in Jesus Christ, all the fullness of deity dwells bodily.

The only alternative to just mistranslating this verse for an unbelieving Jew would be to say that verse 6 is basically an aside to God and that it’s not addressing the King at this point.

And yet, that’s hard to maintain. All the while, the psalmist is speaking of the King. Leading up to verse 6 he’s speaking of him. And then in verse 7 it’s quite clear that he’s still speaking of him.

And so, even verse 6 is addressing this King. And he’s addressed as “God.”

I honestly don’t know how people in the days of this king would have handled these verses that address the King as God.

But I know how we’re supposed to think of it. And, that’s the way that Hebrews 1 portrays it. This is speaking of God’s kingly Son, Jesus Christ, who is God’s last word and who is better than even the super-powerful angels.

The King’s desirableness and luxury

Now, the psalmist goes on to speak in verses 8 and 9 of the King’s desirableness and luxury.

8 All thy garments [smell of/are perfumed with] myrrh, and aloes, and cassia,
[out of/from] the [ivory/luxurious] palaces, [whereby/comes the music of] [they/stringed instruments] have made thee glad.

9 [Kings’ daughters/Princesses] [were/are] among thy [honourable/noble/honored] [women/ladies/guests]:
[upon/at] thy right hand [did stand/stands] the queen [in/wearing jewelry made with] gold [of/from] Ophir.

The king was desirable and luxurious

So, the king’s clothing is perfumed with various scents. And he’s associated with palaces decked in ivory – that perhaps even music is coming from these beautiful luxurious palaces just for him and his wedding day – making him glad.

And those aren’t the only signs of luxury and richness for this king. He has all sorts of noble women attending him in his court.

But the crowning jewel is his queen. And she herself is bejeweled with gold from a place known for its gold – Ophir.

Jesus is desirable and luxurious

And I suppose if we’re extending this to Christ, then perhaps this points to the richness in heaven that he left in order to become poor so that he could make us spiritually rich. It’s like the hymn goes – “out of the ivory palaces into a world of woe – only his great eternal love made my Savior go.

And he came for his queen – his bride – the Church. And in this life we’re poor in numerous ways. And yet, spiritually we are rich. And when we’re with him – not wearing gold maybe – but walking on streets of gold – we will be appreciating the riches given to us by our King forever.

An appeal to the princess on behalf of the king

Now, with the mention of the queen in verse 9, the psalmist goes on in verses 10-12 to appeal directly to the princess – who is soon to be the queen – on behalf of the King.

10 [Hearken/Listen], O [daughter/princess], [and consider/give attention/observe],
and [incline thine ear/pay attention]; [what does she need to hear?…]

forget also thine [own people/homeland],
and thy [father’s house/family];

11 [So shall/Then will] the king [greatly desire/be attracted by] thy beauty: [why should she leave what she knows and do the king’s will?…]

[for/because/after all] he is thy [Lord/master];
[and worship thou/bow down to/submit to] him.

12 And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift;
even the rich among the people shall [intreat/seek] thy favour.

The princess should leave all and embrace the king

So, this princess who is soon-to-be-married to this king is encouraged to leave and cleave to borrow from Genesis. And actually, there in Genesis, the order is for the man to leave his parents and cleave to his wife. Here it’s reversed. The bride-to-be is encouraged to leave all else behind and join herself in marriage to this all-desirable king.

And if she does that – if she leaves what she knew in order to marry this man, the king would desire her beauty. He himself is the fairest – according to verse 2. But he will see and desire her fairness that is a match for his.

And if she has difficulty leaving what she knows in this life to join the king, she needs to remember that he’s the ruler of this domain. He is her king. She would do well to submit to him.

And if she does, even foreigners from the wealthiest of places – Tyre in this case – will be there to welcome and congratulate her on making the right decision.

The Church should leave all and embrace Jesus

So, let’s apply this to the Church’s relationship to Christ our King.

Christ won’t have competition for our affections. Friendship with the world is enmity with God. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. You and I as the Bride of Christ must leave what we’ve known and belong to our great King alone.

And you might think sometimes that we’re the only ones who are benefiting from our relationship to Christ and that he himself is fairly ambivalent about it. But he told us that as the Father loved him, he loves us. He has prepared a place for us so that we can be with him forever. He laid down his life for us because we are his friends. He loves us and desires to be with us forever and to see his glory.

And do any of us struggle to be wholly Christ’s? Are we tempted to be lured back to our old way of life like the Hebrews were to whom the book of Hebrews was written?

If so, we need to remember that Christ is our Lord – our master. He has all power on earth and in heaven. Everything – including us – belongs to him. So, let’s act like that’s the case – because it is.

And can you imagine on that day when we reign with Christ in the Millennium and all nations are serving our King? Surely, we will have these foreign nations there with us, bringing their gifts.

Praising the princess to the King

Now, the psalmist turns back to the King and – as if the King needs any encouragement in this area – the psalmist praises the princess back to the King. Just like the psalmist praised the King to the princess, now he does the reverse of that in verses 13-15.

13 The [king’s daughter is/princess looks] [all glorious within/absolutely magnificent] [i.e., within her bridal chamber…]:
her clothing is [of wrought/interwoven with/trimmed with] gold.

14 She shall be [brought/escorted] unto the king in [raiment of needlework/embroidered work/embroidered robes]:
the [virgins/maidens of honor] her [companions/attendants] that follow her [shall be brought unto/are led before] thee [<– Where I get that this is addressed to the king…].

15 [With gladness and rejoicing/Bubbling with joy] shall they [be brought/be led forth/walk in procession]:
they shall enter into the [king’s/royal] palace.

The princess was elaborately arrayed

And so, regarding the bride-to-be of the ancient Davidic king, this is speaking of how elaborate her outfit is as she’s ready to join the king in marriage. And not just her outfit – but her attendants are elaborate in terms of their number and their enthusiasm. And so, these things are praised about this woman to the king.

The Church is elaborately arrayed

And for the Bride of Christ, this again points to our adornment on that day when we’re finally united to Christ our King. Our garments will be bright and clean – they’ll be our righteous acts. We will have no spot or wrinkle or anything like that.

And as for our attendants on that great day, we know that all creation groans and suffers pains until the resurrection of our bodies and our being fully united – face-to-face – to our King. Don’t you suppose that all creation will be ready observers of this future and imminent event?

The continuation of the King’s rule and reputation

And lastly, the psalmist declares the continuation of the King’s rule and reputation in verses 16 and 17.

16 [Instead/In place] of thy fathers shall be thy children, [to carry on the dynasty…]
whom thou mayest make princes [in all/throughout] the [earth/land].

17 I will [make thy name to be remembered/proclaim your greatness] [in all generations/through the coming years]:
therefore shall the [people/peoples/nations] [praise/give thanks to] thee for ever and ever.

The king will continue his reign

And so, for the ancient Davidic king – here the psalmist is looking forward to the fruit of his upcoming marriage – children to take his place and rule in his stead.

And the psalmist promises to make this man’s name be remembered in all generations. But isn’t it interesting that we don’t know the exact identity of this King? Is it David? Is it Solomon? Or Rehoboam? Or…? We don’t know his name.

Jesus will continue his reign

And yet, we know the name of Jesus – still to this day. The world knows his name. And the Church praises him to this day. And it’s the Church that is made-up of so many “people” or “Gentiles” that praise our King forever and ever.

Because the truth of the matter is that we will reign with him. We’ll be made princes in all the earth when our King comes to reign and have his wedding procession and wedding supper with us.

And what a day that will be. And it will most surely come when our Lord the King comes in his beauty.

So, that’s Psalm 45. A hymn for a historical wedding procession. And a hymn that is unmistakably Messianic and pointing us to that future day when the Church – in the words of the song – “eyes not her garment, but her dear bridegroom’s face.” Looking not at the glory that will just absolutely surround us at that point, but on our King of grace.

Psalm 43 Meaning

Psalm 43 Meaning

Let’s discover Psalm 43 meaning. This psalm consists of five short verses, so let’s read those right now.

Psalm 43 Meaning Read

Invocation

43 [Judge/Vindicate] me, O God,
and plead my [cause/case] [fight for me…] against an ungodly nation:

Lament

O deliver me from the deceitful and [unjust/evil] [man/men].

Confidence

For thou art the God [of my strength/who shelters me]:
why [dost/have] thou [cast me off/rejected me]?

Lament

why [go I/must I walk around] mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy? [my enemies oppress me…]

Petition

[O send out/Reveal] thy light
and thy [truth/faithfulness]:

[let them/they will] lead me;
[let them bring/they will escort] me [back…]

unto thy holy hill,
and to thy [tabernacles/dwelling place(s)].

Confidence/Praise

Then will I go unto the altar of God,
unto God [my exceeding/who gives me ecstatic] joy:

yea, upon the harp will I praise thee,
O God my God.

Confidence

Why art thou [cast down/in despair/depressed], O my soul?
and why art thou [disquieted/disturbed/upset] within me?

[hope in/wait for] God:
for I shall [yet/again] [praise him/give thanks to my God],

who is the [health/help] of my countenance,
and my God. [for God’s saving intervention…]

Psalm 43 Meaning The Psalmist is Depressed

So, in Psalm 43, the psalmist speaks to us about being depressed or cast down.

In verse 2, he speaks of mourning. In verse 5, he talks to his own soul – to himself, really. And he asks himself why he’s cast down and disquieted. Or why he’s depressed and upset.

So, the man writing this psalm is experiencing some sort of inner turmoil that is causing him to give up and quit in his life.

And there are all sorts of catalysts that can make people feel this way. You might be feeling this way. Maybe you’re just physically exhausted and feel like you just can’t go on. Maybe you’re overwhelmed by any number of circumstances in your life. And you feel depressed, cast down, upset emotionally.

So, a person can enter into this spiritual condition of depression for several reasons.

Psalm 43 Meaning Why is the Psalmist Depressed?

But the psalmist actually tells us why he’s depressed throughout this psalm.

He mentions an ungodly nation full of unjust or evil men in verse 1.

In verse 2, he says that these men are his enemies and that they are oppressing him.

And the question in my mind is “who is this nation?” And we’re given minimal details about the identity of this ungodly nation.

Psalm 43 Meaning Babylon?

Here’s one possibility. The psalmist is writing while in exile in Babylon. And this ungodly nation is Babylon. And he’s walking around being oppressed and depressed all day long.

But I don’t think that’s the nation being referred to here. Because the psalmist mentions going to God’s tabernacles and his holy hill and when he’s there he plans to approach the altar. And so, if this psalm was set during the time of the exile of Judah, the Tabernacle on Mount Zion was destroyed. He couldn’t visit it and even if he could visit the ruins of the Tabernacle, he would not find the altar that he’s saying that he’s going to approach.

Psalm 43 Meaning Israel

So, this ungodly nation is not a foreign entity. I think it’s safe to assume that the psalmist is speaking of his own people, Israel.

The psalmist is depressed because his own people – not some foreign entity – are oppressing him. They’re deceitful and evil and oppressive.

And we can identify with what that’s like – to live in a country marked by lying, evil, and oppression of those who love the Lord.

So, we know that the psalmist is depressed. We know why he’s depressed – enemies who are lying and oppressing and being generally wicked.

But what’s the solution to the psalmist’s depression?

Psalm 43 Meaning The Solution to the Psalmist’s Depression

In the psalmist’s mind, what he needs at a very basic and foundational level for help with his depression is for God to act decisively.

He says in verse 1 that he needs God to judge or vindicate him. As if he’s being put on trial and needs to be exonerated – probably from these men who are lying about him.

He needs God to plead his cause against his whole nation – which is acting in a very ungodly manner in verse 1 still.

The psalmist ends verse 1 by begging God for deliverance.

So, on the one hand, the psalmist needs God to protect him physically from his enemies.

But that’s not where it ends. The psalmist goes on to focus rather on his relationship to God and his word.

In verse 3 he asks God to send out his light and truth. And he says that if God does this, then the psalmist will be led back to God’s Tabernacle in verses 3 and 4.

Psalm 43 Meaning Background

And at this point I think we can piece this episode into David’s life when he was being chased out of Jerusalem by his son Absalom. He wants to come back to Jerusalem – to the Tabernacle of God. But he needs God to take some action to make that happen. He needs to be defended from his enemies. But he also needs God to sustain him during that time in his brief exile with light and truth.

Negatively, he needs God to hold back his enemies. Positively, he needs God to encourage him by unleashing his truth in David’s life.

And when those things happen, it’s only a matter of time until David is brought back to God’s Tabernacle in verse 3.

Psalm 43 Meaning Mindset

And then his thinking and mindset start to shift from his problems and his depression to the desirability of God.

In verse 4 he starts to visualize being back at the altar of the Tabernacle where he would offer sacrifices.

And of course those sacrifices in the Old Testament were usually animal sacrifices. And yet, that’s not what David is limiting the scope of his sacrifice to in this psalm. In connection with the altar in verse 4, what does he say that he’s going to do? He’s going to praise God on the harp.

Praise will be David’s sacrifice to God when he’s brought back to God’s Tabernacle in Jerusalem.

And I think we know by experience that when we’re really involved in praising God it tends to dive away depression, the likes of which David was experiencing and working through in this psalm.

So, David will turn from his depression to instead praise this God who is the God of his strength in verse 2. He is the God who gives David exceeding joy in verse 4. And this strength-giving, joy-giving God is truly David’s. He is my God in verse 4.

Psalm 43 Meaning Conclusion

And so, in light of these realities – and the fact that David’s God is also ours – any of us who are depressed and cast down can ask ourselves with David – “Soul, why are you depressed and cast down? Hope in God. For we will again praise this God who is the help and health of our countenance.