Today’s Bible reading is Psalm 47. It’s a short celebration of God’s reign. He is “the Most High.” A great king over all the earth. Subduer of peoples. Sovereign over the nations. Occupier of the holy throne. “For the shields of the earth belong to God.” As mighty Nebuchadnezzar learned the hard way, “the Most High rules the kingdoms of men and gives it to whom he will” (Daniel 4:32). Our King is to be “highly exalted!”
And so, Psalm 47 begins with an encouragement: “Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.”
“To be feared.” We don’t generally associate a being who ought “to be feared” with clapping and loud songs of joy. It seems like someone worthy of fear would be more likely linked with complaining than clapping, cynicism than singing, and jitters more than joy.
But herein lies one of the special aspects of the saint’s relationship with his or her Creator: when God is respectfully held in reverential awe, there is no need to fear anyone or anything else. Peoples are subdued at his command. Nations crumble according to his plan. The strongest shields of the earth belong to him. He reigns over the nations. “The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed” to his heirs (Rom 8:18).
Our God reigns today. Our King is sitting on his holy throne. The shields of the earth belong to our Most High Sovereign. For those of us who lovingly fear him as he deserves, those realities inspire clapping, shouts, and loud songs of joy.