Although the author of this psalm is unknown, the psalmist calls upon the people of the world to give praise to God. We don’t know the historical setting for this psalm but it appears that the praise given to God was because provided the harvest from the crops.
Although the headings aren’t inspired by God, they are important because they give us some understanding of the Psalm and they help us to see why it was written. The headings usually tell us four things.
1. Who wrote them, probably wrote them or possibly wrote them.
2. Information about the historical background to the Psalm. Why it was written.
3. They tell us of the tune the Psalm was written to.
4. How it was used.
The heading tells us that this psalm is a song, to be sung with a stringed instrument for the director of music. Some commentators believe that the ‘director of music’ is God Himself and others believe that it is a song leader who led choirs or musicians, 1 Chronicles 6:33 / 1 Chronicles 16:17 / 1 Chronicles 25:6.
The psalmist begins by sharing the Aaronic blessings of Numbers 6:24-26, where the High Priest of Israel would pronounce this blessing upon the people of God, Psalm 4:6. In the New Testament, all Christians are priests and part of a royal priesthood, Romans 15:16 / 1 Peter 2:9-10.
You may notice at the end of verse one, some translations have the word, ‘selah’, although no one really knows what this word means, it’s likely it means to pause. It’s a time to stop and reflect upon what has just been said.
We can almost imagine the psalmist pausing for a breath as they contemplate the words of this Aaronic blessing.
The psalmist asked for the Aaronic blessing for the sake of others, they want all the earth to know the ways of God. They want all the earth to know about God’s salvation, Matthew 28:19-20.
They call upon the people to praise God, then they pray that ‘all’ the peoples praise God and they ask God to bring the nations to Himself, Psalm 22:27 / Psalm 66:4 / 2 Peter 3:9.
It is God who rules the people with equity, that is, God is a righteous judge, and it is God who guides the nations of the earth, that is, it’s God who would instruct them in what to do, he would guide them in paths of prosperity, happiness and salvation.
You may notice at the end of verse four, some translations have the word, ‘selah’, although no one really knows what this word means, it’s likely it means to pause. It’s a time to stop and reflect upon what has just been said.
We can almost imagine the psalmist pausing for a breath as they contemplate all the earth simply praising God.
The psalmist continues to invite the people, all the peoples to praise God. The Israelites were to praise God because the land yielded it’s crops, Leviticus 26:4 / Leviticus 26:20 / Deuteronomy 32:22 / Judges 6:4 / Job 20:28 / Psalm 78:46 / Psalm 85:12 / Ezekiel 34:27 / Zechariah 8:12 / Deuteronomy 11:17 / Habakkuk 3:17 / Haggai 1:10.
If the Lord is gracious and brings rain to produce a bountiful harvest, then the surrounding nations looking at the situation of Israel would recognise that God was working for His people. When the other nations saw the special blessing of rain on the crops of the Israelites, they perceived that Israel’s God was working for them.
Notice the psalmist says ‘God, our God blesses us’, this is an expression of their relationship with God, God is their God. This is also an acknowledgement of who God is and what God is doing.
The special blessing of saving them from famine would be an occasion for the nations to give praise to God. When the people praise the Lord, the earth will give an increase in crops because of God’s special blessing. When we recognise that God does for us then truly we will acknowledge that we too are blessed by God.
Although the psalmist recognised that they are blessed by God, they ask God to bless them still, in other words, they understand that God will bless them with prosperity, peace and salvation.
The reason God blessed Israel and would continue to bless them was because He wants all the earth to fear Him, Psalm 22:27.
The psalmist called upon all the peoples of the earth to praise God four times in this short psalm. As Christians, we too have many reasons to praise God but we often forget about the benefits which come from praising Him, Psalm 107:8-9.
1. When we praise God we receive strength when we need it most, Psalms 103:1-5.
2. When we praise God we focus on Him and not our troubles, 2 Chronicles 20:1-30.
3. When we praise God we receive peace and joy, Isaiah 61:3.
4. When we praise God we are reminded of our freedom, Galatians 5:1.
When we praise God, even in the midst of our despair and difficulties, great things can happen not only for us but for others around us.
When Paul and Silas found themselves in the Philippian jail, they were praising God but remember, it wasn’t only Paul and Silas’ chains which were broken while they were in prison, the other prisoner’s chains broke too, Acts 16:16-40.