The Psalms for a New Day website has just been redesigned and the website has moved to a new location. The page you are looking for has moved. Try the link below:
Looking for content on a specific topic?

Psalm 47

Yahveh reigns

Despite how tragically messed-up our world is, God is fully committed to redeeming it, healing our fractured humanity, making us one in him and filling us with his perfect joy.

A descendants of Korah psalm.

Clap your hands, all you peoples!
Acclaim God with joyful shouts!
For Yahveh is most high and to be revered—
a great King over all the earth.
He subdues[1] peoples under us
the nations under our feet.
He chooses our inheritance for us
the proud possession of Jacob, his beloved.
God has ascended amid the crowd’s jubilant roar
Yahveh with the sound of the ram’s horn.

Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is King over all the earth.
Praise him with a psalm.
Sitting on his holy throne
God reigns over the nations.
The rulers of the world gather
as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the earth’s guardians[2] belong to God
who is exalted on high.

The psalmist here celebrates two great events, God’s victory over hostile nations and his ascension as earth’s undisputed king. These events are inseparable since Yahveh reigns not as a mere figurehead, but in power, as seen in Israel’s conquest of Canaan.

We may feel uneasy today over God’s choosing one ethnic people, imperfect Israelites, by which to establish his rule on earth. But God has always chosen to work through particular people. It may seem easier to think of God fulfilling his purposes remotely—without messed up humans, like Jacob, involved. But thankfully for us, beginning with Abraham, God has always worked with and through just such humans—the only kind available.

Building on Psalm 46, this psalm points ahead to humanity’s restored oneness under the Messiah, God’s only perfect representative. The psalm’s climax envisions the day when the world’s leaders all gather as one people belonging to Abraham’s God. This was God’s goal from the first: to extend his perfect blessing to all humanity.[3] The Messiah’s ascension to the throne and the universal harmony it will ultimately produce are two causes for the joy and over-the-top celebration described here.

Who is like you, O Lord? Mercifully working through Abraham and even Jacob to redeem your world. Thank you that you’ve ascended to your throne and rule over the nations and that you will yet make all things new, restore your world to perfect harmony. I worship you, Lord God. Amen.

In your free moments today, meditate on this truth:

Yahveh is most high and to be revered—a great King over all the earth!


[1] While both verbs in verses 3-4 suggest Israel’s conquest of Canaan, the Midrash takes them as referring to the future when God’s reigns universally, as in Haggai 2:22. John Goldingay, Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007) 2:78.

[2] Though the word is, literally, “shields,” the idea is that of leaders.

[3] Gen. 12:3.

Why Yahveh?

Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and occasionally transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Modern translations, likewise, either translate or transliterate it. While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it is more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. I’ve chosen to transliterate it to root it more firmly in the biblical story as the name—meaning the “self-existent One”—that God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. This name set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it in order better to hallow it. In transliterating it, I follow the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard. He advocated transliterating it as Yahveh—pronounced yah·vay—arguing that following the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish than Yahweh.
May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Robert Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.