“For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.” (Psalms 47:7b)
Many times in religious gatherings – whether it is in church capacity; at an outdoor arena meeting for a religious reason; or at an entertainment concert, a so-called “Gospel Concert” – there is much singing and much music that goes on without “understanding.” Obviously, this is not the case in every such meeting; but in the 21st Century, singing “praises with understanding” is not the norm, but the abnormal.
The proof of this statement is found in the Motives for such singing; in the Message (or the words) of the singing; in the Money gained from these singings; and in the Movement (or results) of this type of singing.
The motives for this kind of singing are self and pride. The messages, or the words, of this type of singing glorify the flesh and not the Savior. The money gained from such singing may also be the motive for singing, rather than for God’s glory. The movement, or results, is to move the flesh and not the spirit.
Here is an acid test for singing, to see if it is “with understanding”:
- Remove the hype associated with the singing;
- Remove all names associated with the choir, band, or whatever;
- Change the fancy clothes on the singers to moderate clothes;
- Turn the instrument noise to a low, low minimum;
- Stop all applause at the end of the songs;
- Change jubilation to exaltation and worship of the King.
The Scriptural reasons for singing are: first, to sing praise to the King, Jesus Christ, He is to have all the praise and honor from His Children; and second, to edify the Child of Grace.
The Psalmist said, “sing ye praises with understanding.” What does he mean, “with understanding”? The answers are given in Psalms 47:1-9:
1) The How: “…O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.” (Psalms 47:1)
There is nothing wrong with showing emotion when you praise God. Here in verse 1, the Psalmist says, “clap” and “shout.” But notice, the motive of such action is triumph, not in yourself, but in God, our King. The Psalmist then explains the clap and shout, “unto God with the voice of triumph.” Why? For His Triumph, which you the believers, are part of.
“God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.” (Psalms 47:5)
“Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.” (Psalms 47:6)
2) The Why:
#1) “For the LORD most high is terrible;” (Psalms 47:2a)
The word “terrible” carries with it the Power of God in Judgment; and it also denotes the extent of the Judgment of God. Meaning there is none who can withstand God’s Judgment; He has all Power in heaven and in earth. (See Deuteronomy 7:21; 10:17; 2 Samuel 7:23; Psalms 68:35; 145:6; Joel 2:11, 31; Zephaniah 2:11.)
#2) “He is a great King over all the earth.” (Psalms 47:2b)
God is the Absolute Sovereign Ruler over all His Creation. There is none of His Creation that God does not rule over. (See Isaiah 43:11-13; 45:7-10, 21; 46:9-11.) He has this Right and Authority because He is God; the Creator, Controller, and Consummator of all things. The Psalmist describes God’s Kingship by using the adjective “great.” He is not only King, but He is a “great king”; which describes the nature of Himself (the Alpha and Omega; the Beginning and the End; He is God – Perfect, Pure, Holy, and Just). And it describes the nature of His Rule to His Creation. He is gracious. He supplies His Creation with food, clothes, shelter, etc. He is full of mercy which faileth not. But He also hates sin, and judges it. He has even set up human governments and laws to regulate evil doers. The rain falleth on the just and the unjust. God is a Great King. There is none like Him.
“God reigneth over the heathen…” (Psalms 47:8)
#3) “He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet.” (Psalms 47:3)
That is, we praise our King for the Victory we have in Him over all enemies of Righteousness:
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4)
We are overcomers in Him over the law of sin and death (spiritual death, or eternal separation from God; Romans 8:2). We, in whom He dwells, have the power living and abiding within us to overcome the old man and the sin that is in our flesh:
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
#4) “He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved.” (Psalms 47:4)
Our Inheritance is Christ, through Whom comes the Blessing of the Holy Spirit upon us (Galatians 3:16-29). We are heirs of God and (even) joint-heirs of Jesus Christ. Meaning we have Him and His Inheritance. (See John 17:21-24.) That is, that we may be brought to where He is (John 14:3); and He is One with the Father; and He in us and we in Him. So, it is a Place of Perfect Unity in God, whereby we are brought to behold His Glory. See Romans 9:23-24; which proves the Remnant of both Jew and Gentile are counted as the Children of Promise (Romans 9:6).
This, our inheritance (even One in Christ by the Power of the Holy Ghost in Regeneration) is our “excellency of Jacob” (meaning both Jew and Gentile in Christ; Galatians 3:25-29). Christ the King is our Excellency (or our Righteousness; our Justification; Romans 5:1-2).
#5) “God reigneth over the heathen:” (Psalms 47:8a)
Read the notes and comments on verse 2b. The understanding here is that not only is God the Sovereign Ruler of His People (His Sheep); but He is the Sovereign Ruler over the heathen also. Then, meaning He Rules and Reigns over all men (lost and saved). No one or nothing escapes the Rule of God. (See 1 Chronicles 16:31; Revelation 19:6.)
#6) “God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness.” (Psalms 47:8b)
That is, God is Holy, Pure, and Just. (See Isaiah 6:1-8.) This phrase, “God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness,” reveals again His Sovereign Rule; and this Rule is in Pure Holiness (Righteousness and Justice). The flip side of this is that God hates and punishes sin; which is another understanding when we praise Him for making us holy, and protecting us from the enemy.
#7) “…for the shields of the earth belong unto God: he is greatly exalted.” (Psalms 47:9)
“Shields” speak of defense:
“For the LORD is our defence; and the Holy One of Israel is our king.” (Psalms 89:18)
God is the Defense (or the Shield) of His Creation. He protects earth from any and all destruction; from any and all attacks. In other words, He sustains His Creation, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Also Christ is His People’s Defense, as Psalms 89:18 says, “the LORD is our defence.”
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29)
“Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Romans 8:30)
“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” (Romans 8:33)
“Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Romans 8:34)
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35)
“As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” (Romans 8:36)
“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,” (Romans 8:38)
“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39)
(Also see Psalms 18:1-2. Reference Psalms 7:10; 59:9, 17; 62:2; 89:18; 94:22.)
Therefore, He is greatly exalted by those who have understanding of who God is and who they are in Christ.
3) The What: “sing ye praises with understanding.” (Psalms 47:7)
“Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.” (Psalms 119:104)
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)
“The knowledge of the holy (King Jesus) is understanding.” This knowledge is in the Word of God. But to see, or to perceive, or to discern, spiritual things, you must have “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:9-16).
John 3:3 says:
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see (or perceive) the kingdom of God.”
Singing without understanding that God is “King” (which is explained in Psalms 47:1-9); is only singing, and not praise at all. When you sing, even if certain references are made to God; unless you have been Born of God, your singing is valueless to God and to you.
God knows who He is. Singing is for us. It releases our joy toward God; “knowing” and “understanding” who God is, and knowing that He is our God. It edifies us and it allows us to follow His Command to praise Him:
“Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalms 150:6)
Singing praise with understanding exalts God in our own heart. When we praise God with understanding, it also glorifies Him:
“Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me…” (Psalms 50:23a)
Raja Sekhar says
This is an excellent article, expounding vs 7 using the entire Psalm 47.
God bless you for this great work.