The Noblemen Gather the People to God

“The noblemen of the people gather the people of the God of Abraham for to God are the shields of the earth. He is to be greatly exalted!”

(Psalm 47:10 {verse 9 in English translations})

 

The close of this psalm begins with an interesting visual picture. First of all, the term that we render as “noblemen” is the word byIdÎn (nadib) speaks of one who distributes or provides for those in his care. Thus, the idea conveyed by the term is not so much one of rank, but of activity. Similarly, the language of gathering is a farming analogy — the psalmist speaks one of gathering together the people like one would harvest grain or corn. Essentially what is being conveyed is that those who are leaders of men — responsible for providing for those under them — have a spiritual obligation to gather their people together — not just with a common vision or for work, but to exalt the God of creation.

How the nobles of our world have fallen short in their tasks. How often even those who are tasked with leadership in the church fall short of their task. So much time gets spent on managing money and wealth that often the point behind the wealth is missed entirely. For even the wealth with which we have been entrusted is to be used to the glory of God. If, once everything has been said and done, people are not gathered to worship our risen King, then leadership has missed its greatest aim and purpose. Paul writes to Timothy telling him that the people are to be in prayer for their civil leaders…why? So that they may live peaceful and godly lives (1 Timothy 2:1-2) — a life that can only be had when worship is your first and highest goal.

What follows the phrase about the people being gathered to God is the language of shields. What does it mean that the shields of the earth are to God? There are several ways in which this phrase could be understood. The word N´gDm (magen), or “shield,” can be understood literally as a piece of armor that would be used in warfare. Indeed, the armies of the earth — even the pagan armies — belong to God and will be used and disposed of to bring about his good and sovereign will. Yet, this term can also be used figuratively, which seems a better interpretation in the context of this psalm. Princes over the people provide protection for their charges — in fact, on an earthly level, that is one of the most significant tasks a prince must do. Thus, in a couplet, we find the Prince’s duties joined together in one — in terms of eternal priorities, he must bring his people to God and in terms of earthly priorities, he must protect them — something that can only be done effectively when the people find their refuge in the God of Israel.

And thus people from, all across the earth — Jew and Gentile — are brought before the throne of God — brought together as one flock. Indeed, that is something that is promised to take place fully and completely at one time — some to glory and some to eternal judgment. And God is to be greatly exalted for his work. May we all be found as wheat in the great mill press of God.

Therefore, God has exalted him and has graciously given him the name that is above all names, in order that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend in heavenly places, earthly places, and places under the earth, and that every tongue would admit that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

(Philippians 2:9-11)

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