Friday, March 10, 2006

Psalm 93: The Lord Reigns

posted by paul

Augustine, one of the great theologians in church history, was once walking along the beach greatly perplexed by the doctrine of the Trinity. He could not grasp the truth of the triune nature of God. Because he could not fully understand this doctrine he was tempted to reject it. As he continued to walk along the beach he came upon a little boy playing on the beach. As he watched the child, he saw him run to the water with a seashell, fill it with water, and then return and pour the water into a small hole that he had dug in the sand.
“What are you doing, my little man?” asked Augustine.
“Oh,” the boy replied, “I am trying to put the ocean into this hole.”
Augustine smiled at the little boy’s faith in the face of the impossibility of such a task. Then he suddenly realized that when it came to God he was guilty of trying to do the same thing. “That is what I am trying to do with God,” the saint later confessed. “I see it now. Standing on the shores of time, I am trying to get into this little finite mind things which are infinite.”
Augustine came to the conclusion that the nature of God is not dependant upon what Augustine thinks of Him. Rather, the nature of God is revealed to the mind of Augustine through Scripture.

We must be very careful about how we think about God. Our thoughts about God, our Theology Proper, must come from what God has said about Himself. This means that every thought we have about God must come from Scripture. A very good place to start when it comes to thinking about God is Psalm 93. In this Psalm we see the supremacy of God, and the sufficiency of His word outlined. We cannot be certain what the historical context of this Psalm is; we have no author, or heading for this Psalm. As we make our way through this passage I think that we will see that his Psalm was written in one of two contexts: 1) The nation of Israel was facing an immanent threat from an enemy, and they needed to be reassured to place their trust in the Lord. 2) The Lord delivered the nation of Israel from one of its enemies, and this Psalm was a song of praise. We cannot be sure of either of these, but we can be sure that a proper understanding of this passage will provided the child of God with great comfort and assurance.

The Lord reigns. It is His very nature, which included majesty and strength, to reign. And as we will see later in this passage no matter what challenges are brought against His rule the Lord remains unchanged. The Lord’s reign is a very important idea to understand. The word here that is translated as reigns has the idea of a king on His throne. This should not have been unfamiliar to Israel; this was the precise conclusion of Moses after crossing the Red Sea (Exodus 15:18). Yahweh was the great warrior (Exodus 15:3) who defeated the so-called god Pharaoh and reigned as King over Israel. What an assurance it must have been for Israel to know that Yahweh reigned over them. No matter what enemy they faced, and no matter what earthly king they had, Yahweh reigned. This is the very nature of God. Any idea of God that is less than Him reigning over the entire universe is wrong. When we do not attribute to God the power which belongs to Him, as we ought, we are rebelling against His authority. To view God as less sovereign than He has revealed Himself to be in Scripture is the source of much unnecessary fear and anxiety. This was the point that Jesus made in Matthew 6:25-34. Our God reigns and for us to think any differently is not only wrong, but it is the source of much anxiety and fear.

Not only does our God reign, but He does so with majesty and strength. The Psalmist writes “He is clothed with majesty.” He is not clothed with the emblems of majesty, but with majesty itself. Everything that surrounds Him is majestic. He does not need robes, or rings, or sashes, or even a crown to identify Himself as a King. His majesty does not flow from his outer clothing. His majesty flows from His very nature. Let me show you what I mean by contrasting two separate uses of this same Hebrew word (גֵּאוּת gē˒ût) for majesty taken from the book of Isaiah. First, In Isaiah 12:5 the same word for majesty is translated “excellent things.” So, one place that we can see God’s majesty is in the excellent things that He has done. Since the cross references for the excellent things that God has done include the whole Bible, I will let you just look around at this world that God has created to see an example of God’s majesty. The next use of this word that we will look at is found in Isaiah 28:1-3. Here the word is translated as “proud,” and signifies man’s imitation majesty represented by a crown. Man needs something to make himself appear majestic; however the Lord’s majesty is who He is. This is why He told Moses to tell the people that “I Am” had sent him (Exodus 3:14). If that had been an earthly king he would have had to send his insignia, or some proof of his authority. In contrast the Lord’s exhibition of majesty was Himself.

The Psalmist goes on to say that not only is the King known by His majesty, but also by His strength. C.H. Spurgeon put is this way, “His Garments of Glory are not his only array, He wears strength also as his girdle.” It is important at this point to say that the Lord is always strong and majestic, but at times He displays this power in a special way to His people and thus it is said that He is clothed in Majesty and strength. God’s sovereign strength is one of the fundamental truths of the Bible. Although from a human perspective it may appear to be otherwise, God is in control over all things. Unfortunately, there is another image of God that our culture has created. It is a god, as Steve Lawson puts it, that is "made in our own image." We seldom hear about the sovereign strength of God, and men live as if there is no God at all. Too often people talk about God as if he has been dethroned. Many speak of God as if he has put Himself in subordination to the will of His own creation. Is this codependent god, who is always trying to come up with solutions for earthly problems and all too often falling short, the God of the Bible? No, God is not limited by the will of man. God reigns in majesty and strength. This proper biblical view of God must be a constant theme for our lives, and especially for our prayers. We must pray to Him knowing that He is the sovereign ruler of the universe. If we do not view God properly then we will make Him out to be in our own image. Thankfully the God who reigns over the universe is not like me.

Don’t make God out to be that weak by your thoughts and actions. Run to Him in prayer, and in your deepest time of fear and anxiety remember that “the Lord Reigns.”

*Expect to see more on Psalm 93 in the coming days*


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