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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

Psalms 47





This is one of those psalms that tantalise by seeming to tell the story of their origin, though on closer inspection the story refuses to be satisfactorily identified. Some public rejoicing for victory evidently gave it birth, but whether it was that of Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20). or of Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:8), or of John Hyrcanus over the Idumæans (Jos., Ant., xiii. 9, 1), must remain in the region of conjecture. The reading, “with the people,” in Psalms 47:9 (see Note), would lend probability to the last of these queries. The occasion, whatever it was, seems to have led to a re-dedication of the Temple (Psalms 47:5), such as we read of 1 Maccabees 4:54. The rhythm is fine and varied.

Title.—See titles Psalms 42, 3.

Verse 1

Verse 2

(2) Most high.—Or, possibly, a predicate, is exalted.

Terrible.—Literally, feared. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 20:29).

Verse 3

(3) Our inheritance.—The LXX. read, “his inheritance,” suggesting that originally the passage may have run, He chooses us for His inheritance, an even commoner thought in the Hebrew mind than that of the present text, that Jehovah chose Canaan as an inheritance for Israel.

Verse 3-4

(3, 4) Shall subdue . . . shall choose.—Rather, subdues, chooses, indicating a continued manifestation of the Divine favour.

Verse 4

(4) The excellency of Jacob.—This phrase, which literally means the loftiness of Jacob, is used in Nahum 2:2 of the national glory, in Ezekiel 24:21 of the Temple, but in Amos 6:8 has a bad sense, “the pride of Jacob.” Here, as the text stands, it is to be understood of the country. (Comp. Isaiah 13:19.)

Verse 5

(5) Is gone up.—Not, as in Genesis 17:22, Judges 13:20, to heaven, but, as in Psalms 24, to the Temple, as is shown by the public acclaim accompanying the ark to its resting-place after victory. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 20:28; Psalms 68:17; Amos 2:2.)

Verse 6

(6) Sing praises.—Better, Strike the harp.

Verse 7

(7) With understanding.—Rather, play a fine tune. (See title Psalms 32) Or perhaps as LXX., and Vulg. adverbially, play with skill.

Verse 9

(9) The shields of the earth—i.e., the princes just mentioned, as in Hosea 4:18; so LXX. and Vulg. (“strong ones”), which, however, they make the subject of the verb—“have been mightily exalted.”


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Bibliography Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 47:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

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