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God and the nations in the Psalms: the nations’ defeat

We saw a link between God’s preference for Israel and the nations’ praise in Psalm 96 and 67 but what about God’s punishment of the nations and their defeat? Psalms 47 and 87 help us to address this.

Psalm 47 opens with a command for the nations to clap their hands (47:1) but it quickly becomes clear that these same nations have just been defeated in war (47:4). How can they be invited to worship Yahweh with joy if that worship depends on their conquest by Israel’s king? V.9 explains: they gather as the people of Abraham. Identified as belonging to God, the nations gather, no longer as outsiders but within the covenant where they can experience God’s love and nurture.

Psalm 87 enhances this picture with the astonishing claim about non-Israelite citizens of the holy city. Several nations are mentioned: the super powers of the time, Egypt (Rahab) and Babylon; Israel’s old enemy Philistia; the city of wealth, Tyre; and a nation from far away, Cush. Each of these are spoken of as having being born in Zion (87:4). The picture is of these other nations having been incorporated into God’s nation, as part of his people. In him, they will find their joy (87:7) and together they will praise God.

God’s defeat of the nations draws them in to be his people. Incorporated, not as slaves but as his children, they stand with Israel and praise him.

Categories: Uncategorized Written by Tamie

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Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

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