For the Love of God, Volume 1/May 3
From Gospel Translations
Numbers 10; Psalms 46—47; Song of Songs 8; Hebrews 8
A COMMON THEME OF PSALMS 46 AND 47 is the sovereign authority of God over all the nations. He is not some mere tribal deity. He is the Most High (46:4). Nations may be in an uproar; kingdoms rise and fall. But God needs only to lift his voice, and the earth itself melts away (46:6). By his authority desolation works its catastrophic judgment; by his authority wars cease (46:8-9). The Lord Most High is “the great King over all the earth” (47:2, 7). “God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne” (47:8).
This ensures the security of the covenant community. The surrounding pagan nations may threaten, but if God is in charge, the covenant people of God can testify, “The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (46:7). “He subdued nations under us, peoples under our feet” (47:3). Indeed, as for Jerusalem, the “place where the Most High dwells”: “God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day” (46:4-5).
The psalmist sees at least two further entailments. First, sooner or later God “will be exalted among the nations” (46:10). “For God is the King of all the earth” (47:7). These last two references could be understood as a threat rather than a promise of blessing: God will be exalted among these pagan nations in exactly the same way he was exalted by destroying the Egyptian army at the Red Sea. But in the light of Psalm 47:9 we would probably be unwise to insist on so negative a reading: “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.” In other words, one of the entailments of monotheism is that God is the God of all, whether acknowledged as such or not. And one day he will be acknowledged by all; in many cases such acknowledgment will be accompanied by worship and adoration, as the nobles of the nations assemble before God exactly as do the people of the God of Abraham. To use Paul’s categories, here is the inclusion of Gentiles as Abraham’s sons (cf. Rom. 4:11; Gal. 3:7-9). “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (46:10).
The second entailment is praise. “Come and see the works of the LORD” (Ps. 46:8). “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth!” (47:1-2). “Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises” (47:6).