To the Chief Musician. A Song. A Psalm.
1 Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!
2 Sing out the honor of His name;
Make His praise glorious.
3 Say to God,
“How awesome are Your works!
Through the greatness of Your power
Your enemies shall submit themselves to You.
4 All the earth shall worship You
And sing praises to You;
They shall sing praises to Your name.” Selah
5 Come and see the works of God;
He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men.
6 He turned the sea into dry land;
They went through the river on foot.
There we will rejoice in Him.
7 He rules by His power forever;
His eyes observe the nations;
Do not let the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah
8 Oh, bless our God, you peoples!
And make the voice of His praise to be heard,
9 Who keeps our soul among the living,
And does not allow our feet to be moved.
10 For You, O God, have tested us;
You have refined us as silver is refined.
11 You brought us into the net;
You laid affliction on our backs.
12 You have caused men to ride over our heads;
We went through fire and through water;
But You brought us out to rich fulfillment.
13 I will go into Your house with burnt offerings;
I will pay You my vows,
14 Which my lips have uttered
And my mouth has spoken when I was in trouble.
15 I will offer You burnt sacrifices of fat animals,
With the sweet aroma of rams;
I will offer bulls with goats. Selah
16 Come and hear, all you who fear God,
And I will declare what He has done for my soul.
17 I cried to Him with my mouth,
And He was extolled with my tongue.
18 If I regard iniquity in my heart,
The Lord will not hear.
19 But certainly God has heard me;
He has attended to the voice of my prayer.
20 Blessed be God,
Who has not turned away my prayer,
Nor His mercy from me!
The first 12 verses use plural pronouns, the last last 8 verses use singular pronouns.
enemies shall submit (v.3) — The psalmist specifies God’s awe-inspiring miracle of turning the sea into dry land (v.6)—a miracle performed on such a grand scale that it set fear and trembling into the heart of the peoples all around (Exodus 15:14). yet though these people—the enemies of God and Israel—then feigned obedience to God out of fear of His great power (v.3), the psalmist affirms that one day all the earth will worship God—a goal which no force of history can preempt (cf. Isaiah 11:10; Zechariah 14:9, 16; Revelation 22:3-4). — Wechsler, page 172.
sea into dry land (v.6) — a reference to Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21)
through the river on foot (v.6) — a reference to Israel’s crossing of the Jordan River (Joshua 3:14-16)
peoples (v.8) — According to Williams, this is a reference to the Gentiles who will be invited to worship Israel’s God.
fulfillment (v.12) — signifies “satisfaction” and “rest.”
The psalmist next praises God for having tried and refined His people (v.10), yet those who have been trained by it come into a place of abundance (v.12). all of these points are reiterated in Hebrews 12:4-13, which explicitly adds, citing Proverbs 3:11-12, that divine chastisement is, in the end, a cause for rejoicing, for it is evidence of God’s undiminished paternal love. — Wechsler, page 172.
In the first part [vs.1-12] appeal is made to all the earth to worship God because of what He has shown Himself to be on behalf of His people. This is a recognition of the true function of the people of God, that of revealing God to the outside nations in such a way as to constrain them to worship. — Morgan, page 116.
extolled (v.17) = praised
In regarding the wickedness in his heart (i.e., the depravity that affects us all; see Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9) he correctly determined that the Lord will not hear (v.18, to which compare Isaiah 59:2). Yet for the one who has … submitted in faith to God’s Word (and now that Word made flesh in Jesus; John 1:14), God will give heed to the voice of their prayer (v.19) and not turn away His lovingkindness (the expression of God’s covenant love) from them. — Wechsler, page 172.
The Psalm praises God for smiting the nations in judgment and Israel in chastisement. It will be sung by Israel and the Messiah at the opening of the millennium. She will recite His past action with her enemies (vs.3-7) and with herself (vs.9-12); she will offer the sacrifices of praise promised when in trouble (vs.13-15); and she will invite all who fear God to listen to her testimony as to His faithfulness and love in the fulfillment to her of His promises of deliverance (vs.16-20). — Williams, page 351.
Guthrie explains the Psalm as praise from Israel for some past deliverance. He suggests the overthrow of the Assyrian forces under Sennacherib. Perhaps that was the immediate context, but I think Williams’ explanation of the Psalm as prophecy makes the most sense. Morgan’s explanation (above) makes sense only in the prophetic context because in no sense has what God did for Israel in the past forced the nations to worship Him.