Psalm 47 – “Hymnic Praise and Thanks”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
The psalmist praises God’s dominion over the nations.

II. Photo
The people are called to praise: “All you peoples, clap your hands, raise a joyous shout for God!” (v. 2)

III. Select Verses    
2-5: All you peoples, clap your hands, raise a joyous shout for God. For the LORD Most High is awesome, great king over all the earth; He subjects peoples to us, sets nations at our feet. He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom He loved. Selah.
6-8:  God ascends midst acclamation; the LORD, to the blasts of the horn. Sing, O gods; sing, O sing to our king; for God is king over all the earth; sing a hymn.
9-10: God reigns over the nations; God is seated on His holy throne. The great of the peoples are gathered together, the retinue of Abraham’s God; for the guardians of the earth belong to God; He is greatly exalted.

IV. Outline

1. Superscription
2-5. Hymn #1
    2. Call to worship
    3. Rationale
    4-5. Thankful praise
6-10. Hymn #2
    6. Introductory praise
    7. Call to worship
    8. Rationale
    9-10. Praise

V. Comment
Psalm 47 is comprised of two hymnic sections, one in vv. 2-5 and the other in vv. 6-10. The sections are divided by the enigmatic word “selah”. In the received version of the masoretic text, the second hymn is directed towards אלהים “the gods” (v. 7). Yet, the Septuagint and many medieval manuscripts have  זמרו לאלהים “sing to God” instead of  זמרו אלהים “sing, O gods,” i.e., the psalm is directed towards the people, not the gods of the nations. Needless to say, further research is required.

In terms of classification, many consider Psalm 47 to be an “enthronement psalm.” Gerstenberger writes: “Psalm 47 belongs – in terms of form and contents – to Psalms 93; 96-99, even if the much-debated formula ‘Yahweh is/has become king’ is missing (but see vv. 6, 9).” (195)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Craigie, Peter C. “Psalms 1-50” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 19 (Waco, Texas: Wordbooks, 1983).
Gerstenberger, Erhard S. “Psalms Part 1 with an Introduction to Cultic Poetry” Forms of Old Testament Literature (Michigan: Eerdmans, 1988).
Photo copied from