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Psalm 47:2-6 (NASB)

2 For the Lord Most High is to be feared, A great King over all the earth. 3 He subdues peoples under us And nations under our feet. 4 He chooses our inheritance for us, The glory of Jacob whom He loves. [b]Selah.

5 God has ascended [c]with a shout, The Lord, [d]with the sound of a trumpet. 6 Sing praises to God, sing praises; Sing praises to our King, sing praises.

Psalm 47:2-6 (KJV)

2 For the Lord most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.

3 He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet.

4 He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah.

5 God is gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.

6 Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.

When the term "inheritance" is used in Psalm 47:4, would it be correct to say that it is alright to interpret it as either

  1. Demarcated physical boundaries/borders of land of Ancient Israel as defined in Genesis 15:18–21 , Exodus 23:31 , Numbers 34:1–15 , etc.,

Joshua 14:1 (NASB) Now these are the territories which the sons of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the households of the tribes of the sons of Israel apportioned to them for an inheritance,

The Joshua 14:1 (KJV) verses also uses the word "inheritance"

The case for associating the term "inheritance" in Psalm 47:4 with the Demarcated physical boundaries/borders of land of Ancient Israel are based on the preceding verses:

Psalm 47:3 (NASB) 3 He subdues peoples under us And nations under our feet.

Psalm 47:3 suggests/hints to me that "peoples" and/or "nations" refer to the Ancient Canaanites people who resided in the Canaanite land prior to the arrival of the Ancient Israelites.

Also, Psalm 47:4 ends with the term "Selah" which means pause which in turn suggests/hints that the Psalm 47 author wanted a break in the train of thought as people were praying/reading over Psalm 47

And/Or

  1. inheritance in Jesus Christ as specified in

a)

John 1:12–13 (NASB) 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were [a]born, not of [b]blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

b)

Ephesians 1:9–11 (NASB) .......the summing up of all things in Christ, things [d]in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 [e]also we [f]have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will

The Ephesians 1:9–11 (KJV) verses also uses the word "inheritance"

The case for associating the term "inheritance" in Psalm 47:4 with the inheritance in Jesus Christ is the successive verses:

Psalm 47:5 (NASB) 5 God has ascended [c]with a shout, The Lord, [d]with the sound of a trumpet.

Even though it might seem to be a mild exaggeration, it seems to me that Psalm 47:5 uses the word "ascended" which suggest/hints that the Psalm 47 author is referring to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. ( Other people might think it is a really weak case , please see: https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/37906/19810 )

Therefore, to summarize said question, is Psalm 47:4 use of the word "inheritance" referring to

-Demarcated physical boundaries/borders of land of Ancient Israel

Or

-inheritance in Jesus Christ ( i.e., "right to become children of God", " to the end that we who were the first to hope in [g]Christ would be to the praise of His glory." )

-Or is it Both of the above?

  • 1
    Excellent question with interesting associations.(+1). – Nigel J Jul 8 at 13:51
  • There are no doubt many Christological interpretations. You seem to be asking whether it is appropriate to use such an interpretation, which is not a question this site can handle. – curiousdannii Jul 9 at 7:21
  • Nearly every question which has multiple answers has them because they are opinions. What would be the hermeneutical basis for discerning absolute truth? – Bob Jones Jul 13 at 1:27
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The word for inheritance used in Psalm 47 is נַחֲלָתֵ֑נוּ in possessive, first person plural. The word in this form appears five times in the OT including Psalm 47 (MT verse numbersings):

  1. Numbers 32:19
  2. Numbers 32:32
  3. Numbers 36:3
  4. Psalms 47:5
  5. Lamentations 5:2

In the four cases excluding Psalm 47 it is clear that the word refers to land.

The only other meaning of נחלה inheritance in the OT is in reference to God himself as in Deuteronomy 18:2 (NIV):

They shall have no inheritance among their fellow Israelites; the LORD is their inheritance, as he promised them.

But even Deuteronomy 18:2 indicates that the primary meaning of "inheritance" is indeed land.

The context of Psalm 47, a victory song, with some military imagery, it is clear that the literal meaning is land.

Furthermore, the Psalms were written hundreds of years before anyone had heard of Jesus son of Joseph of Nazareth, so at the time the Psalm was written and for hundreds of hears afterwards, the inheritance didn't mean anything other than the land of Israel to the people who understood the language of the Psalm and preserved it for us.

You are free to interpret the inheritance of Psalm 47 in any way that you like,but I would hope that you can distinguish between its meaning to the people who originally wrote this Psalm and sang it, and your re-interpretation in the light of later events and your identity. The necessity of re-interpretation of this Psalm for people who are not Jewish and for whom the promise of physical land is irrelevant, is clear.

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  • 1
    Excellent answer. Many thanks. You are correct that the NT re-interprets this and similar passages but your answer is still correct. – Dottard Jul 8 at 21:22
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Should Psalm 47:4 use of word “inheritance” associated with Ancient Israel's land's physical borders or inheritance in Jesus Christ?

Psalm 47:4 (NASB)

4 "He chooses our inheritance for us, The glory of Jacob whom He loves."

Psalm 47:4(NET Bible)

4 He picked out for us a special land [a] to be a source of pride for[b] Jacob,[c] whom he loves.[d] (Selah)

Footnotes: NET Bible

a/ Psalm 47:4 tn Heb “he chose for us our inheritance.” The prefixed verbal form is understood as a preterite (see “subdued” in v. 3).

b/ Psalm 47:4 tn Heb “the pride of.” The phrase is appositional to “our inheritance,” indicating that the land is here described as a source of pride to God’s people.

c/ Psalm 47:4 tn That is, Israel.

d/ Psalm 47:4 sn Jacob whom he loves. The Lord’s covenantal devotion to his people is in view.

In Psalm 47:4 the psalmist spoke of Israel as "the pride of Jacob, whom has loved."

4a" He chooses our inheritance for us."

Deuteronomy 9:5 (NASB)

5 It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the [a]oath which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

4b "The glory of Jacob whom He loves."

Deuteronomy 7:6 (NET Bible)

6 "For you are a people holy[a] to the Lord your God. He[b] has chosen you to be his people, prized[c] above all others on the face of the earth."

Malachi 1:2 (NET Bible )

2 “I have shown love to you,” says the Lord, but you say, “How have you shown love to us? “Esau was Jacob’s brother,” the Lord explains, “yet I chose Jacob.

Conclusion

When the term "inheritance" is used in Psalm 47:4, would it be correct to say that it is alright to interpret it as the .

Demarcated physical boundaries/borders of land of Ancient Israel as defined in Genesis 15:18–21, Exodus 23:31, Numbers 34:1–15, etc.,

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The operative word in Ps 47:4 is נַחֲלָה meaning "Possession, property, inheritance" (BDB) and occurs aver 200 times in the OT, almost always referring to inheritance of land, eg, Josh 20:6, Isa 58:14, Deut 4:21, 15:4, 19:10, 20:16, 21:28, 24:4, 25:19, 26:1, Jer 12:14, Num 16:14, 36:2, Josh 14:3, etc.

Further, this inheritance appears to allude to the land promised by God Gen 21:10, Ex 32:13, Eze 33:24. The Covenant of land (among other things) with Abraham was made in several places such as Gen 15, 17, 18:9-15, 22:15-18.

The NT takes a different approach. Without denying anything as described above, Jesus famously remarked:

  • Matt 23:37, 38 - O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling! Look, your house is left to you desolate.
  • Matt 21:4 - Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.

Paul also comments:

  • Gal 3:16, 22, 29 - The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say, “and to seeds,” meaning many, but “and to your seed,” meaning One, who is Christ ... But the Scripture pronounces all things confined by sin, so that by faith in Jesus Christ the promise might be given to those who believe ... And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.

The NT word almost equivalent to נַחֲלָה is κληρονομία (kléronomia) also refers to the promises and the inheritance of Abraham in Acts 7:5. Paul then uses this idea that Christians inherit the promises in Gal 3:14, 18 -

He redeemed us in order that the blessing promised to Abraham would come to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit ... For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God freely granted it to Abraham through a promise.

Paul says something similar in Eph 1:13, 14, 18 -

And in Him, having heard and believed the word of truth—the gospel of your salvation—you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the pledge of our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession, to the praise of His glory ... I ask that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know the hope of His calling, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints

Thus, the promises made to Abraham and repeated to Israel have been inherited as the Kingdom of God/Heaven by Christians who obey His calling by trusting in Jesus. See also Eph 5:5, Col 3:23, 24, Heb 9:15, 11;18, 1 Peter 1:4.

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