The psalmist, having his own heart filled with great and good thoughts of God, endeavours to engage all about him in the blessed work of praise, as one convinced that God is worthy of all blessing and praise, and as one grieved at his own and others’ backwardness to and barrenness in this work. Observe, in these verses,
I. Who are called upon to praise God: “All you people, all you people of Israel;” those were his own subjects, and under his charge, and therefore he will engage them to praise God, for on them he has an influence. Whatever others do, he and his house, he and his people, shall praise the Lord. Or, “All you people and nations of the earth;” and so it may be taken as a prophecy of the conversion of the Gentiles and the bringing of them into the church; see Rom. 15:11.
II. What they are called upon to do: “O clap your hands, in token of your own joy and satisfaction in what God has done for you, of your approbation, nay, your admiration, of what God has done in general, and of your indignation against all the enemies of God’s glory, Job 27:23. Clap your hands, as men transported with pleasure, that cannot contain themselves; shout unto God, not to make him hear (his ear is not heavy), but to make all about you hear, and take notice how much you are affected and filled with the works of God. Shout with the voice of triumph in him, and in his power and goodness, that others may join with you in the triumph.” Note, Such expressions of pious and devout affections as to some may seem indecent and imprudent ought not to be hastily censured and condemned, much less ridiculed, because, if they come from an upright heart, God will accept the strength of the affection and excuse the weakness of the expressions of it.
III. What is suggested to us as matter for our praise. 1. That the God with whom we have to do is a God of awful majesty (Ps. 47:2): The Lord most high is terrible. He is infinitely above the noblest creatures, higher than the highest; there are those perfections in him that are to be reverenced by all, and particularly that power, holiness, and justice, that are to be dreaded by all those that contend with him. 2. That he is a God of sovereign and universal dominion. He is a King that reigns alone, and with an absolute power, a King over all the earth; all the creatures, being made by him, are subject to him, and therefore he is a great King, the King of kings. 3. That he takes a particular care of his people and their concerns, has done so and ever will; (1.) In giving them victory and success (Ps. 47:3), subduing the people and nations under them, both those that stood in their way (Ps. 44:2) and those that made attempts upon them. This God had done for them, witness the planting of them in Canaan, and their continuance there unto this day. This they doubted not but he would still do for them by his servant David, who prospered which way soever he turned his victorious arms. But this looks forward to the kingdom of the Messiah, which was to be set over all the earth, and not confined to the Jewish nation. Jesus Christ shall subdue the Gentiles; he shall bring them in as sheep into the fold (so the word signifies), not for slaughter, but for preservation. He shall subdue their affections, and make them a willing people in the day of his power, shall bring their thoughts into obedience to him, and reduce those who had gone astray, under the guidance of the great shepherd and bishop of souls, 1 Pet. 2:25. (2.) In giving them rest and settlement (Ps. 47:4): He shall choose our inheritance for us. He had chosen the land of Canaan to be an inheritance for Israel; it was the land which the Lord their God spied out for them; see Deut. 32:8. This justified their possession of that land, an d gave them a good title; and this sweetened their enjoyment of it, and made it comfortable; they had reason to think it a happy lot, and to be satisfied in it, when it was that which Infinite Wisdom chose for them. And the setting up of God’s sanctuary in it made it the excellency, the honour, of Jacob (Amos 6:8); and he chose so good an inheritance for Jacob because he loved him, Deut. 7:8. Apply this spiritually, and it bespeaks, [1.] The happiness of the saints, that God himself has chosen their inheritance for them, and it is a goodly heritage: he has chosen it who knows the soul, and what will serve to make it happy; and he has chosen so well that he himself has undertaken to be the inheritance of his people (Ps. 16:5), and he has laid up for them in the other world an inheritance incorruptible, 1 Pet. 1:4. This will be indeed the excellency of Jacob, for whom, because he loved them, he prepared such a happiness as eye has not seen. [2.] The faith and submission of the saints to God. This is the language of every gracious soul, “God shall choose my inheritance for me; let him appoint me my lot, and I will acquiesce in the appointment. He knows what is good for me better than I do for myself, and therefore I will have no will of my own but what is resolved into his.”