Psalms of the Sons of Korah: Introduction (2)
Opening Prayer: Psalm 47.1, 2
Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with the voice of triumph!
For the LORD Most High is awesome;
He is a great King over all the earth.
Sing Psalm 47.1, 2
(Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
O clap your hands, you peoples all; with joy to God your songs intone!
Shout out to Him, and on Him call: He is the mighty, sovereign One!
Read Psalm 47
1. How do the sons of Korah describe the greatness of God?
2. How do the nations respond to God’s greatness?
We begin our brief survey of the primary themes in the psalms composed by the sons of Korah with their focus on the greatness of God. God and His greatness – personal, royal, holy, and saving – is foundational to all twelve of these psalms. It provides the interpretive focus for gaining the benefit these temple gatekeepers intended.
Psalm 47 sets the tone of this theme: “For the LORD Most High is awesome…a great King over all the earth” (v. 2). God “has gone up with a shout” (v. 5), which clearly points to the ascension of Christ as King and Lord of all (cf. Ps. 110, Dan. 7.9-14). This theme is reinforced in Psalm 45.6, 7, where the sons of Korah envision Christ ruling with a “scepter of uprightness” over His Kingdom (cf. Heb. 1.8).
God is “greatly to be praised” in His city, where He is the “great King”, and all the nations scatter in fear before His Presence (Ps. 48.1-6). He is exalted over all the nations and will be exalted throughout the whole earth (Ps. 46.10), until all the peoples (Hebrew: עַמִּ֥ים, ammim, “peoples”) praise His great and holy Name forever and ever (Ps. 45.17). From His throne on high, God is “a sun and a shield” for His people, from whom He does not withhold anything which is for their good (Ps. 84.11).
Not even His own Son (Ps. 88). The sons of Korah could not see clearly through to the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. Rather, they saw as much as God chose to reveal to them of His greatness, much of which, as the story of redemption unfolded, came to fullest expression in Jesus and His Kingdom. This theme of the greatness of God and how His people experience this recurs throughout the psalms of the sons of Korah, and it keeps us oriented to the things that are above, where Christ is, seated in heavenly places at the right hand of God (Col. 3.1-3).
Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with understanding” (Psa. 47. 7).
The sons of Korah want us to understand the greatness of God. However, we are not to lean on our own understanding (Prov. 3.5). Paul, in his guidance to Timothy said, “…may the Lord give you understanding in all things” (2 Tim. 2.7). True understanding comes directly from God. And James suggests that “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (Jms. 1.5).
As God gives us wisdom and understanding we begin to see His awesomeness. “And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be—‘The LORD is one,’ and His name one” (Zech. 14.9).
And ultimately, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev. 11.15).
That “…the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raise Him from the dead…” (Eph. 1.17-20).
The Greatness of God. “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law” (Ps. 119.18). Let us praise Him with the understanding that He gives us through His word.
1. Why do we need to know how great, how majestic, how strong, wise, faithful, and beautiful God is? Do you ever want to shout His greatness?
2. What is God’s plan for getting the peoples of the world to praise Him? What is your role in that plan?
3. How can the Word of God help us to grow in understanding the greatness of God?
“Shout to God,” that is, offer thanksgiving to him, the victory to him, the trophy to him. The conflict is not human or the battle physical, nor is the contest over any earthly concern but over the heavens and those in the heavens. He personally conducted this war and gave us a share in the victory. John Chrysostom (344-407), Commentary on the Psalms 47.1, 2
Closing Prayer: Psalm 47.2-9
Praise God for His greatness, His Kingdom, His faithfulness, goodness, and love. Commit yourself and your day to the service of our great God.
Sing Psalm 47.2-9
(Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
High is the Lord, O, fear His Name! He rules, a King o’er all the earth.
Nations and peoples He has tamed, the heritage of His holy worth.
God has ascended with a shout, the Lord with sound of trumpet bold!
Sing praise to Him, let praise ring out! Let praise through all the world be told!
God is the King of all the earth, sing praise to Him with glorious psalms!
He rules the nations by His worth, and on His throne receives their alms.
Princes of peoples gather all to Abraham and to our God.
Exalt the Lord, and on Him call – the earth is His, so praise our God!
T. M. and Susie Moore
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.