Believers in Jesus Christ see reasons of praising joyfully the glorious Godhead of Jesus Christ and singing praises to Him as God again and again. They consider how He humbled Himself to assume our nature, paid the ransom for us and was victorious over all our enemies in our name. And also in considering how He ascended in our nature with the shout of the victory, and sound of the triumphant trumpet they cannot but praise.
There are all kinds of issues and thoughts surrounding singing in church. People are ever ready with to express their personal opinions and tastes. It is easy to find the reasons for praise in the things that please us. But praise is not a way of building up an atmosphere nor is it something we are to spectate rather than join. It is not primarily about connecting us together (though of course it does that in spiritual terms). What matters is the God who is being praised. We are to find our reasons and focus for praise in Him. The command to sing praise to the Lord is one of the most frequently repeated in Scripture. It is not something we can take or leave. It is a powerful way to express our obedience to God as well as our devotion to Him. God inhabits the praises of His people and Christ leads it (Psalm 22:2 and Hebrews 2:12). If we consider even a few of the reasons for triumphant praise it surely ought to fill our hearts as well as our voices.
Praise is a special means of glorifying God (Psalm 50:23) and so it is frequently commanded. In the space of just two verses, we are commanded five times to sing praise to God (Psalm 47:6-7). But one of these is to sing praise with the understanding (v7 see 1 Corinthians 14:15). The whole psalm helps us to do this by giving reasons for joyful praise. In the psalms God gives us not just many commands to sing praise but also reasons for it and not only that but the very words to use. Using the same kind of ascension language as Psalm 68:18 it also points to a time of a gospel kingdom rather than simply the Jewish people praising God. It reveals a future king, clearly the Messiah who would subdue the nations and have everything under His rule (Ephesians 1:22).
David Dickson describes this psalm as a “prophecy of the enlargement of Christ’s kingdom, and of the conjunction of Jews and Gentiles in one body under Christ their Head and Lord”. It is an exhortation to “Jews and Gentiles, joyfully to praise the God and Saviour of His people Jesus Christ” whom the Psalmist sees “ascended into heaven triumphantly after the full payment made of the price of redemption”. Christ is gathering His redeemed people, Jews and Gentiles, out of all nations. The benefits of His kingdom belong to more nations than one “for in Him the redeemed in al the nations of the earth are blessed” (Psalm 47:1).
It is a matter of chief joy when the kingdom of Christ comes to anyone because it means deliverance from “sin, Satan, and misery”. He has conquered these enemies and also brings “sure mercies of righteousness, peace, and joy” with eternal life. The Gentiles are commanded “to clap their hands and shout, and to shout with the voice of triumph”. They are to “shout to God, the triumpher, who in all this Psalm is the Redeemer Christ” “distinctly to be praised for His work of victorious redemption of sinners”. Thus it says “shout unto God with the voice of triumph” (Psalm 47:1). In the following updated extract Dickson goes on to show the reasons that this psalm gives us for praise. “None can praise God, or praise Christ sincerely, who do not understand the reasons for which they should praise” so it follow that praising with the understanding stirs up the affections also.
1. Christ is Sovereign Over all the Earth
The first reason for joyful praising of Christ is taken from His sovereign majesty over all the world (Psalm 47:2). The Redeemer, the victorious triumpher is the Lord: very God, essentially Jehovah, the Lord most high. Christ has the right and just title to erect a church in what country and kingdom He pleases without asking the permission of any. He is able to set up the profession of His name and the practice of all His ordinances in doctrine, worship, and church government. “He is a great king over all the earth.”
2. Christ’s Kingdom is Increasing
The second reason for joyful praising of Christ is taken from the increase of His own kingdom, and the exalting of all His subjects above the rest of the world (Psalm 47:3).