Transition In 1
The psalmist has his three points, and they go one, two three, and after an interlude of ascension, he follows it with one, two, three. And so the first reason, what we could say the primary reason for praise and worship is his first point as seen in verses 2 and 7. For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth, and verse 7 For God is king over all the earth; sing praises with a psalm.
Why is God to be feared in this way? As we look at what guide the sons of Korah to write these verses we have to understand how they perceived this God whom they described as the great King over all the earth. What made him King? The context the Israelites are coming out is one of bondage. Having been slaves in Egypt for 400 years, God finally selects a deliverer in the likes of Moses to bring them up out of Egypt. The story should be familiar to us; it is one we often tell and read to our kids. That God called Moses by appearing in a burning bush and then sent him to bring the people out by many signs and wonders. The miracles that we read about, from the Nile turning to blood and the frogs and the locust, all of them are polemically designed by God to show forth that he is better than any false God which the Egyptians worshiped. In these miracles, God shows forth that he is the one and only God, by figuratively killing all the false Gods. And then people being lead by God are brought forth and made to pass through the red sea on dry ground. God having separated the waters let his people go forth. All of this is a display that his master and commander of all of creation, so much so that even the waters bend to his will. And so we read in Deuteronomy 4:34 Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the Lord, your God, did for you in Egypt before your eyes? To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God’ there is no other besides him.
The language of the Exodus story points us as well to the God’s work in the original creation where he made the world Ex Nihilo or out of nothing. As it points to the ending of the Flood as God restored the land and made it habitable again for Noah’s family. Original Creation, the Flood narrative, and the Exodus story by using creational language is putting forth the point that as God made the earth, as he ended the flood, as he brought a people for himself, he has seated himself as the great King over all of his Creation. And in each of these cases, it is an awesome demonstration of power. Awesome in the sense that God should be feared and not trifled with. He is the great King, who has power over all of creation.
Thinking through this, I was often reminded of a statement that my mother was found to make. And perhaps you parents with kids have often said once or twice. I brought you into this world, and I can take you out of it. Now I know no one would ever act on that statement, but it stands as a way of reminded the children of your position of authority and power.
The Israelites as they read of their history were to be inspired by the way in which God brought them out of Egypt. This story was supposed to be taught to the next generation as we read in Deuteronomy 6:20-25. That when you son asks you why the Israelite people kept the law, the fathers were supposed to recount about the great power of God in the midst’s of the exodus, and in light of the exodus The Lord commanded us to do all these statutes to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day.
And so if that is the context in which the Israelites would have understood this verse that were singing in Psalm 47, as they reflected on God as the great King over all the earth, the great King to be feared. What is our context for singing this verse? If for the Israelites they understood the fear of God in light of work of the exodus primarily and relation the creation of the world. We too have experience an exodus. A greater exodus. The prophets looked to this future exodus in Jeremiah 16:14-15 Therefore, behold, the days are coming declares the Lord, when it shall no longer be said. As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt, but as the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them, For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their fathers. The language of Jeremiah here points to an exodus, a gathering of God’s people which is so much greater than the original one, that the exodus out of Egypt will be forgotten. The prophet Zechariah as well looking forward to the day of that was coming writes this verse in 14:9 using the same language of our psalm and the Lord will be King over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one.
Likewise in the New Testament, at the transfiguration, Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah speaks of his exodus, which he is going to perform. And that exodus happened at the cross, and now as people turn in faith towards the Father through Christ, we are being gathered as a people under this Great King, Christ who by his death and resurrection earned the right to be the eternal king over the new creation. The kingdom of Christ which is a kingdom not of this world.
As believers we can sing like the ancient Israelites, recognizing the God who is king, who orchestrated the this great work of redemption, who not only is upholding the original creation, but has ascended to reign over the new creation, which we have been given the first fruits of in the regeneration of our hearts and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who has been poured out into the lives of those who believe. When we behold the exodus of Christ and the work that he accomplished, we should be overwhelmed by it because of the magnitude of effort required to reconcile sinful man to a holy God, so that sinful man can now have a holy spirit dwelling in them, as such the temple was the place of the presence of God for the Israelites because of Exodus, we enjoy a greater communion and fellowship with God as we are the temple of his presence by the exodus of Christ.
Therefore sing praises to this God, the Lord highest for the Lord, the most high is to be feared, a great king over all the earth, For God is king of all the earth sing praises with a psalm.
The first reason our psalmist has given for praising God is because he is a God to be feared because he establishes his reign as King by creating the world, and by recreating and transitioning a people to the new creation through an exodus. The passage of Noah and the exodus of Israel were types of the exodus of Christ by which we are brought into a new creation, not of this world. The second point of the psalmist flows from this as he says in verse 3 and 8 He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet, God reigns over the nations; God sit on his holy throne. And so now let us look at how God establishes and maintains his reign in this age and the age to come.