To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
1 Clap your hands, all peoples!
Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
2 For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared,
a great king over all the earth.
3 He subdued peoples under us,
and nations under our feet.
4 He chose our heritage for us,
the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah
5 God has gone up with a shout,
the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
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 praises with a psalm!
8 God reigns over the nations;
God sits on his holy throne.
9 The princes of the peoples gather
as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
he is highly exalted!
The 46th Psalm celebrates King Messiah coming in judgment, in which He conquers the whole earth. The 47th Psalm presents the Messiah in an anticipative way as King, not only over the faithful remnant of Israel, but over the whole world. — Phillips, page 131.
Thematically and structurally this psalm and the following one are closely linked: both take up the them of divine kingship, in the present psalm focusing on the person of the divine king, and in the following psalm focusing on the seat (i.e., city) of the divine king; in both psalms the same three aspects of the person (Psalm 47) and the seat (Psalm 48) are considered, reinforcing each other by their chiastic (i.e., inverted, or “mirror-image”) organization — to wit: challenge, praise, preeminence; preeminence, praise, challenge. — Wechsler, page 134.
Clapping of the hands and the verb here translated “shout” (v.1) are elsewhere employed in Scripture in specific connection with the crowning and recognition of a king (2 Kings 11:12; 1 Samuel 10:24). The expression “Most High” (v.2) is one of the many biblical titles of God and underscores His sublimity and transcendence over all Creation (cf. Deuteronomy 28:1; Psalm 83:18) — and hence His prerogative to both (1) choose Israel’s inheritance — i.e., the Promised Land of Canaan (see Genesis 13:15; 17:8; Psalm 105:11; 135:12) — despite the claims of anyone else thereto, and (2) bestow His irrevocable love, by sovereign grace, on Jacob (i.e., Israel, the Jewish people; cf. Psalm 105:8-10; Romans 9:11-13; 11:29). — Wechsler, page 134.
under us/under our feet (v.3) — under Israel, which will reign over all the other nations in the Millennial Kingdom
the pride of Jacob (v.4) — The Hebrew word for “pride” can, and probably here should be translated “excellence,” “glory” or “honor.”
“The excellency [pride] of Jacob” means the supremacy of Jacob over the nations. This was involved in the birthright which he valued and which Esau despised. He was given this double promise, the inheritance of Canaan and the Lordship of the nations. — Williams, page 335.
And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (Genesis 28:13-15).
gone up (v.5) = exalted (as the same Hebrew word is translated in v.9) — it can also mean “ascended” and is so translated many times in other portions of Scripture.
psalm (v.7) = Hebrew maskil — a type of psalm focusing specifically on instruction in practical wisdom
princes (v.9) = willing ones, volunteers — from the same root as the term “freewill offering” — indicating that the submission of the nations to God will be willing (because of faith)
people (v.9) — singular, because it’s speaking of Israel. Three times in this psalm the word “peoples” is used to describe the other nations.
shields (v.9) — probably a reference to the rulers of the earth — the shields of office (referred to as “princes of the people” earlier in the verse) in the sense of protectors, defenders (see Revelation 21:24).
In the concluding section (vs. 8-9) the psalmist looks forward to that future time when God’s sovereign kingship will be recognized not by part of humanity, but by all humanity — employing past tense (i.e., perfect) verbs (i.e., v.8a, lit: “has taken His reign”; v.8b: “has taken His seat”; v.9: “have assembled themselves”) to underscore the inevitability and permanence of that “situation.” — Wechsler, page 135.