Lesson for Oct. 24, 2010: God’s Universal Reign (Psalm 47)

This week’s treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson (for October 24) is written by Brenda J. Lang who serves as professor of music and worship at Cincinnati (Ohio) Christian University.

God’s Universal Reign (Psalm 47)

By Brenda J. Lang

Clap your hands all you people, Shout unto God with a voice of triumph.

Clap your hands all you people, Shout unto God with a voice of praise.

Hosanna! Hosanna! Shout unto God with a voice of triumph.

Praise Him! Praise Him! Shout unto God with a voice of praise.

I suspect as you read those words based on Psalm 47 you burst out singing that old children’s song and jumped out of your seat to do the motions. It had a catchy tune and we used to sing it with all our might. As director of a university choir, I am always looking for new songs for my choir. Do you know there are more than four-dozen choral settings of Psalm 47 and even more hymns and worship songs? Why are there so many settings? What compels composers to use this text?

The God of All Nations

Notice in the heading that this was written for the director of music. This was a hymn used in worship by the Israelite nation and it has continued to this day to be a powerful hymn whose main theme is that God is king over all the earth, all nations—he is the universal king.

What else can we do but praise the God of all nations? We are compelled to lift our hands, clapping in praise to our God. We are moved to shout with all our might to the King of kings. We can’t help but lift our voices in singing praises to the God who sits on his holy throne. In looking at verse 6 we are encouraged to sing praises not just one time, but four. Then verse 7 continues, “For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise.” We are called to praise God for who he is and what he has done.

I am writing this just a few weeks after my church’s ethnically diverse VBS where more than 30 percent of the children in attendance were not white Anglos. Also as I am writing this I am helping my 16-year-old son pack for his first mission trip to Mexico, where he will help with the construction of a church building and teach VBS to more than 300 children. I am also presently preparing 55 Cincinnati Christian University students for our second mission choir tour to Brazil next March.

Why do I mention this? Because if God is the God of the nations, then we not only praise him as the universal God, but we must also make sure all nations have a chance to hear about the God of the nations. As in the days of King David, not all nations know the God of the universe. We are called to praise him so others may come to know him.

The Response to Our Praise

During our first mission choir tour to Brazil in 2008, we traveled to the small mountain village of Pião. The minister of the church there believed God wanted him to build a church 2,000 people could attend. When our bus entered the village the people poured out of the shops to see “the Americans.” We climbed the steep, narrow hill to set up on the concrete floor inside the block walls of the unfinished church building. The acoustics were horrible. Choir members couldn’t hear the band or each other.

We were very tired from the demands of the trip and unnerved about the situation. But we prayed and offered our program to God to use as he intended.

When it came time for the concert to begin, the place was packed. It seemed the entire village had come out mainly to hear the Americans sing. We worshipped from our hearts. We clapped our hands and sang praises to the God of all nations. At the end of the concert, more than 70 people came forward to accept Christ. Their hearts were moved by the message in song based on the book of Philippians and the total praise expressed by the choir.

At the conclusion of another of our concerts, a unique sound began to permeate the clapping and shouting of the Brazilian Christians. It was one of the most unusual sounds I had ever heard. A man in the front row was playing a shofar. He was a Messianic Jew who had heard American Christians were doing a concert. In response to the concert he lifted his shofar in praise to God. Psalm 47:5 says, “God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets” (meaning a shofar, which traditionally is a ram’s horn). What an amazing and moving ending to a concert of worship where people from many nations came together to clap their hands, shout to the Lord, and sing praises to our God!

We must clap our hands, sing our praises, and shout to God wherever we are. All nations must learn about the King of kings.


*All Scripture references are from the New International Version, unless otherwise indicated.

Oct. 18: Jeremiah 10:6-10
Oct. 19: Psalm 97
Oct. 20: 2 Chronicles 20:5-12
Oct. 21: Psalm 3
Oct. 22: Deuteronomy 33:26-29
Oct. 23: Psalm 99
Oct. 24: Psalm 47

ABOUT THE LESSON WRITER: Brenda J. Lang is professor of music and worship at Cincinnati (Ohio) Christian University. She holds a BA in sacred music, Christian education from Lincoln (Illinois) Christian College; and an MM from the University of Missouri. She has done postgraduate work at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

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1 Comment

  1. October 24, 2010 at 2:15 am

    Yes, we must give God praise, and our praise should be intelligent praise, not an emotional response that is irritating, disturbing , and that interrupts message of God, or the atmosphere of true praise, and that diverts worshippers minds from God, to what you are doing, that does not promote who God is—–. True praise testifies to who God is, it promotes others to praise him, to understand he is a God who cares, protects, and provides, and most of all in control of every situation, problems, he is the answer———the worshippers make that known by their coming together, and worshipping him for for who he is, and all he has done; he is creator, sustainer, and redeemer, and that he will come one day, dwell among us, as the righteous and fair king towards all his people, our job is to proclaim , he is a Great King over all the nations, Praise come as we read his wrod, and pray daily, it promotes true praise. When the kingdom of God comes in your heart, as a result of accepting Jesus as Lord, you can be in a worship service, that others see as boring, and dead. However, if that praise is from the heart, it will elicit praise from you, and others, Remember, true praise, glorifies God, it is not to tickle our ears, and arouse our emotions, we get that experience as we daily commune with God in word, and prayer, however, true praise give honor to God alone, and as a result, those that do not know him will be drawn to God, also, we will experience the benefit of true praise: Joy , even when we are facing trials, Peace, when we live in times of war, and domestic problems, security, when surrounded by violence, needs met, when we have no job/ money. Our lessone today, denotes : God is crowned as king, he is praised in worship, and he is praised publically as a witness, that he reigns as king above all !
    I heard a pastor say, “I don’t mind a man hollering, as long as I know what he is hollering about, than, I can holler with him”. (see verse #7)
    The Psalmist gave a list of WHY WE PRAISE GOD? : verses 2-9. However, remember, what sums it up: Exodus 34:14: “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God”.

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