Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! Psalm 47:1 (ESV)
People render applause at a wide variety of venues. Applause is given for great speeches, heroic acts, and great performances at musical concerts, theatre plays and athletic events. In fact, standing ovations are not uncommon at such venues. Applause is often given out of respect for a person’s rank or position. Though some might applaud just because it is expected, the majority applauds because they recognize the significance of an act or the tremendous talent of the performers. Still another reason people applaud is because an act or the person who renders the act meets their approval and the performance brings them joy.
New York City has long been famous for ticker tape parades and is the place where the term originated. Ticker tape was the paper used in the machines that provided stock market updates. Large amounts of this paper were thrown from the office building windows onto the parade participants. Such parades have been given in honor of victorious generals such as Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Chester Nimitz. There is a section of lower Broadway, the street where the parades are held, that is often referred to as the “Canyon of Heroes.”
In reading the entirety of Psalm 47 one might conclude that such a triumphal procession was the context in which the psalm was written. The Hebrew word for joy carries with it the connotation of a shout of triumph. In addition, the psalmist declares that God has subdued the peoples (nations) under their feet; he has extended their kingdom (inheritance) and has, himself, blown the trumpet of victory. The psalmist might also allude to the prisoners of war when he mentioned that the “princes of people” have gathered with God’s people to acknowledge that the God of Israel is the true God. The shields spoken of in the psalm could likely be the shields of the defeated army brought home for display in the processional as spoils of war. They all belong to God.
Too often we reserve our applause and shouts of joy for our favorite musicians, war heroes and athletic teams. However, God is much more worthy of our applause and shouts of joyful song. One psalmist even exhorts the rivers to clap their hands and the hills to sing for joy (Psalm 98:8). How much more should we, who have benefited from God’s goodness, give applause and shouts of triumph to God?
Through his son Jesus, God has defeated all our enemies, extended his kingdom and given us an everlasting inheritance. By our claps of praise and shouts of joy we declare our approval of the victory God has granted us through Christ and render to him the praise of a conqueror.
One psalmist wrote to the choirmaster, Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise! (Psalm 66:1-2 ESV)
When was the last time you gave God a standing ovation? When was the last time you acknowledged his triumph with a shout of joy?
Scriptures for meditation:
2 Corinthians 2:14