1 The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved.
2 Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting.
3 The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves.
4 The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.
5 Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O LORD, for ever.
The Lord reigns in heaven, and nothing can possibly move Him from His position as absolute Ruler of the universe.
Imagine what it would be like to stand at the surf of an ocean bay as a fifty-foot tidal wave gathered force and crashed with a mighty blow upon the shoreline! When this happens in the vicinity of seaside communities as it did in Sendai, Japan in 2011, entire cities were flattened in mere seconds. But that was only one wave. Suppose that a second wave rolled in with a one hundred-foot crest, and then a third wave hit the shore with a two hundred-foot crest and one hundred times the destructive force of the first wave. The crashing of the waves would be deafening, and the effects would be utterly terrifying! With each successive wave, hour after hour, day after day, there is an increase in the intensity of force. In the face of such devastating energy, the pride of man melts into oblivion. Who can stand in the face of such power? Yet these natural disasters are only material forces. Behind them is an infinite, spiritual Power far and away greater than any physical force we experience on earth. Yahweh in the heavens merely speaks a word, and these angry waters cower in fear. Galaxies halt in their courses and stand in awe of Almighty God. Now, what about you?
Verse 1. The psalm intersperses prayers of praise to God with public declarations concerning Yahweh, the King of the earth. In the New Testament, the Greek word used for preaching is Kerusso, which may be translated “herald.” When a king has a message for the land, he sends his heralds through the towns and villages to “herald” the announcements. These men speak with authority because they represent the king himself. It is in this context that the preacher stands up and proclaims the grand statement found in verse 1: “Yahweh reigns!” Now this pronouncement defines God’s relationship with all of the cities, towns, and countries around the world. Whether or not all men acknowledge His Kingship, the Lord reigns over all the earth. It is true that many today wish to think of God as being distant and disengaged from His creation. Such pipe dreams may do a little to quiet a disturbed conscience here or there, but the Christian faith repudiates this altogether. We believe that God is very much involved in every detail of His realm, for He fills the role of King of the World.
Two things distinguish a king who is over a given realm. First, the king has authority to establish law and require the obedience of his subjects. This is no empty authority because the rightful king also bears sufficient power to ward off any would-be competitors who would attempt to usurp his power. Second, he maintains a system of oversight, enforcement, and justice that ensures that his agenda is accomplished over the entire expanse of his dominion. Earthly kings are always limited by their own weaknesses, inconsistencies, and failures, but God is the unfailing, absolute, and majestic King of all the earth. His law is certain and nobody breaks it with impunity. Nobody can ruin His plans, trash His planet, or bring His kingdom down.
“The world is established, that it cannot be moved.” If God was not King of the earth, then the fate of the world would be in the hands of men or in the hands of random chance. This is the worldview of the materialistic naturalists who deny the possibility of a supernatural Being that has anything to do with our world. As they become more self-conscious of their worldview perspective, they live in an almost constant fear that man will destroy the planet or that some random asteroid will careen into the orbit of the earth and wipe us all out. If God is King of the earth, then of course He is both wise and powerful enough to create and preserve a robust earth that can withstand the destructive efforts of sinful man. Certainly, He can control the flight path of asteroids and comets. We should be far more concerned about violating the moral laws of the King Who made this earth than about puny man destroying God’s earth.
Verse 2. Shifting from preaching to prayer, the preacher turns to God and cries out, “Your throne is established of old. You are from everlasting!” Here is the reason why we need not fear the effects of some random chaotic events in a universe of pure chance. We can count on the regularity of nature in Creation and a world with established physical laws and patterns because the God who created it is the same from everlasting to everlasting! His throne existed long before the world was ever created, and His rule has never been challenged, nor can it ever be challenged.
Verses 3–4. Although we need not fear that the world will disintegrate at the whim of chaotic destructive forces, there are still mighty forces at work by nature and human design that threaten the peace and security of those who dwell on the earth. We may suffer a hurricane, a tornado, or the detonation of a nuclear armament in our cities. As we face these mighty waves and contemplate their potential destructive force, we cry out to God, “The floods have lifted up, Oh Lord!” But instantly, we realize that God is greater than these puny forces. He is worthy of our worship and awe. The tidal wave that ruined Japan in 2011 was the most expensive natural disaster since the worldwide flood. The images of whole cities, roadways, and buildings swept away in the flood will reside in the minds of that people for generations to come. For months and years afterwards, the Japanese will fear another earthquake or tidal wave. But God is a billion times more powerful than these little tidal waves, and He is capable of bringing a judgment much more severe upon Japan or any other nation on the earth. Oh, that men would fear the true and living God!
Verse 5. There are so many things in life on which we cannot rely. Economies collapse. Earthquakes and tornadoes destroy villages. Friends grow distant or pass away over the years. But there is something that is certain and immovable. We would do well to keep our eyes fixed upon this certainty. The testimonies of God never change. With all the uncertain vicissitudes of life—the tragedies, the broken relationships, the failures, the unfulfilled dreams, and the dissolution of our greatest endeavors—there is still something we can count on. The testimonies of Yahweh are sure, rejoicing the heart. In addition, the dwelling-place of God will never be desecrated. It will continue to remain holy and pure, beautiful and majestic, most fitting for the holy God who dwells therein.
Do we order our behavior more by the ideas of men, powers of government, and fears of natural disasters or economic calamity than by the unchanging laws of God? If the laws of God take second fiddle to the dictates of men, then we certainly do not live the spirit of this psalm. If God is King over the whole earth, He really ought to be treated as such. Therefore, we will not fear natural forces but rather serve the sovereign King. We should be more interested in studying God’s commandments than following the paths of dangerous hurricanes on the Weather Channel.
This psalm is a wonderful illustration of the weaving together of two aspects of worship. The worshiper talks about God (preaching), and then he talks to God (prayer), in what is called preaching and prayer. While talking to God, he may mention the trials and tragedies that befall men, but inexorably his contemplations concerning God Himself will dominate his meditations.
1. What two forms of worship are interspersed in this psalm?
2. What is a king?
3. How does God compare to other earthly kings and rulers?
4. How does this psalm address those who concern themselves with the possible destruction of the planet?
5. In a world of change, what are the things that do not change?
6. Give several examples of Praise Psalms.
1. How do we react during times of chaos and tragedy? Do our thoughts run according to the pattern of this psalm?
2. Do our hearts long for something good that will not slip out of our hands? How does God meet this particular longing of our souls?