The previous chapter ends with God’s promises of victory over the enemy, just as Psalm 45 describes His everlasting throne. In the wake of the joyous response to the theme of Israelites’ exodus from Egypt in the second book of the Psalms, this chapter continues with the upbeat anthem of the LORD’s victory. This chapter bottles the raw emotion toward that very victory – it is ecstatic (v.1 – “clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy“); why? Because v.2 states that the Most High is to be feared. He is not merely the king of your life, or the king of a kingdom in the Middle East, but a great king over all the earth (v.2). He is no mere David, no mere Solomon, but the Psalm is in praise of the true and only King who rules all the earth, as originally designed for this elect nation. Yet, how rare it is that in the modern evangelical church to see such genuine praise and that we are often navel-gazers even in songs of worship.
This very king subdued people and nations under our feet (v.3) and chose our heritage for us (v.4). Whilst this speaks of Israel, we vicariously benefit through God’s promises to them (Romans 11:11). And we know that such subduing can only be achieved on our behalf through the Son (Hebrews 1:13; 2:8; 10:13), for everything is placed in subjection under His feet.
V.5 is interesting – “God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet“. This smells of prophetic imagery – the image of the One who ascends the holy hill (Psalm 24:3), with the sound of a trumpet – the sound, again, of the final day of victory (1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 11:15 c.f. Leviticus 25:9). It is this very ascension of Jesus that achieves the victory for us – for in his ascension, He models the first fruit of our ascension to the new heaven and new earth; in His resurrection, He models the first fruit of our resurrection; in His death, He models the first fruit of us dying to ourselves and being born-again (Colossians 2:12). The reality of this first fruit will come upon His return, but we live by the Spirit and keep in step with the Spirit in this manner. Spurgeon describes it as such in his Treasury of David:
Faith hears the people already shouting. The command of the first verse is here regarded as a fact. The fight is over, the conqueror ascends to his triumphant chariot, and rides up to the gates of the city which is made resplendent with the joy of his return. The words are fully applicable to the ascension of the Redeemer. We doubt not that angels and glorified spirits welcomed him with acclamations. He came not without song, shall we imagine that he returned in silence? The Lord with the sound of a trumpet. Jesus is Jehovah. The joyful strain of the trumpet betokens the splendour of his triumph. It was meet to welcome one returning from the wars with martial music. Fresh from Bozrah, with his garments all red from the winepress, he ascended, leading captivity captive, and well might the clarion ring out the tidings of Immanuel’s victorious return.
Verse 9 is also prophetic – “the princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham“. Indeed, the joining of the Jews and the Gentiles – under the banner of the people of the God of Abraham, before the creation of the nation Israel – is the true aim of God’s global church. Spurgeon states:
The prophetic eye of the psalmist sees the willing subjects of the great King assembled to celebrate his glory. Not only the poor and the men of low estate are there, but nobles bow their willing necks to his sway. “All kings shall bow down before him.” No people shall be unrepresented; their great men shall be good men, their royal ones regenerate ones. How august will be the parliament where the Lord Jesus shall open the court, and princes shall rise up to do him honour! Even the people of the God of Abraham. That same God, who was known only to here and there a patriarch like the father of the faithful, shall be adored by a seed as many as the stars of heaven. The covenant promise shall be fulfilled, “In thee and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” Shiloh shall come, and “to him shall the gathering of the people be.” Babel’s dispersion shall be obliterated by the gathering arm of the Great Shepherd King.
When there was a mixed multitude coming out of Egypt (Exodus 12:38), we already saw the global church on a mission – a prophecy fully realised in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost by the global outpour of the Holy Spirit promised in Joel 2. Are we living out the mission of the global church? Are we uniting as a global church? Or our concerns merely to do with our personal walk, uninterested in breaking ice and barrier with those who are different from us culturally, different from our social or economic caste? Let us lead, then, not in words of judgment – but in songs of ecstatic praise!