Psalm 47 – With God on Our Side

Bible opened to Psalm 47 with Endangered Species dark chocolate with cacao nibs

Today’s passage: Psalm 47

Today’s chocolateEndangered Species dark chocolate with cacao nibs

Here we have another hymn of triumph, an ode to God’s majesty. Much like in Psalm 24, God is depicted as the King of Israel, victorious over Israel’s enemies and ruling over the nations from his throne. But this psalm was composed by the sons of Korah, who, to all appearances, love a good psalm of orientation.

And I wish I did too. I’d like to be able to simply sing, “Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises” (6), to sing a simple hymn of worship without habitually, compulsively looking for complications. But, in Brueggemann’s classification scheme, why would you ever sing a song of mere orientation when you could have a song of new orientation? By the end of the reorientation process, God has taught you something; you’ve learned through the painful process of having your worldview slammed against the wall of reality as it actually is, and your perspective is both more humble and more resilient for it. But mere orientation, never having gone through disorientation, is naive, childish. And I wish I could read lines like “He subdues peoples under us and nations under our feet” (3) without thinking of Bob Dylan’s “With God on Our Side,” but I can’t.

So here’s the question of the day: why are there even psalms of orientation in the Bible, when they could be psalms of new orientation, informed by the complexity and ugliness of the world as it is, yet still possessing a hope grounded in the underlying reality of God’s power and goodness? Why bother singing songs of naiveté? Why base your communal identity on this?


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