KALEO Notes: Psalm 93 – God is Still on His Throne

Introduction: I came home one day this week in a fit of frustration after dealing with people and problems all day. I told Katrina that I thought everyone in the world was crazy except for her and me. She halfway agreed with me…! I’m already fed up with this year’s presidential election, and I’m thinking of boycotting television news until the thing is over. I already know whom I’m going to vote for, and I don’t want to sit through thousands of negative ads aimed at the 23 people who are still undecided. Let them stay undecided. They’ll figure it out on their own sooner or later. I’ve about come to the conclusion that both the Republicans and Democrats are equally crazy, and I don’t hold out much hope for the Independents. I can understand why people get cynical. This is a frustrating world. And the more frustrated we get, the more we need Psalm 93. This is a priceless Psalm. It’s worth buying a copy of the entire Bible just to get Psalm 93. It’s well worth memorizing. In only five verses, it gives us three things to think about.

1. The Lord Reigns (v. 1-2)

A. His Reign – Verse 1 begins with the words, “The Lord reigns.” Dr. James Mays wrote that this one phrase is the key to understand the whole book of Psalms. He said, “The nuclear and organizing metaphor for the theology of the psalms is the liturgical proclamation ‘The Lord reigns.’ That proclamation announces the reality on which all else in the psalms depends.” Mays talked about the wide variety of content and emotions and formats in the book of Psalms, and then he asked, “Is there in the Psalms some one central, organic characterization of God out of which all the rest unfolds and to which all the variety can be related?” He said that the organizing center for the theology of the Psalms can be found in the sentence Yahweh malak – The Lord reigns![1] I’ve said that Psalms 90-99 are the Rocky Mountains of the Psalms. This is the reason. The great theme of these Psalms is found in these verses:

  • Psalm 93:1 – The Lord reigns; He is robed in majesty.
  • Psalm 96:10 – Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”
  • Psalm 97:1 – The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlines be glad!
  • Psalm 99:1 – The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!

B. His Robe – Verse 1 goes on to say the Lord is clothed or robed. What does God wear? There are several verses in the Bible that give more-or-less physical descriptions of God and make reference to clothing, that is, to royal vestments. I’m not sure how literally to interpret these, but I think if we could see into heaven right now we’d see something like these descriptions in the Bible.

  • Isaiah 6:1-4
  • Daniel 7:9
  • Psalm 104:2
  • Matthew 17:2
  • Revelation 1:13-14
  • Revelation 19:11-16

The Psalmist goes on to say that the world is established. Despite all the frustrations we feel, there’s a certain concreteness and stability to this planet and our solar system that is established in the stability of God Himself. Just take the rotation of the earth. Take the laws of nature. There is a consistency that lets us know someone is in charge. There is an intelligent designer, a God who is holding everything together.

2. The Floods Rise (v. 3-4) – It’s important to remember those things when it looks as if the world is coming apart at the seams. The idea of a “flood” in the Bible can mean:

A. A Literal Flood (Genesis 7)

B. A Powerful Enemy – Often in the Bible, the idea of floods conveyed the threat of political and military foe.

  • Isaiah 8:7-8
  • Isaiah 17:12-13
  • Isaiah 28:2
  • Isaiah 59:19

C. A Terrible Problem

  • Job 22:10-11
  • Psalm 69:1-2 & 14-15

D. A Sinful Culture – 1 Peter 4:4 – Martin Luther spoke of “our Helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.” Commentator Albert Barnes said: “It would appear as if the psalmist had been meditating on dark things which occur in the world; the mysteries which abound; the things which seem irreconcilable with the idea that there is a just government over the world.”

3. The Saints Rest (v. 5) – Catherine Booth, who worked alongside her husband as he founded the Salvation Army, said on one occasion: “The waters are rising, but so am I. I am not going under but over.” In remembering that the Lord reigns even when the floods rise, there are two means of grace to help us.

A. His Word is sure – That means firm and unalterable. Psalm 93 is a good passage to keep in mind when things seem to go wrong in life.

B. His House is holy – This refers to His eternal abode but should also be reflected in His earthly church.

Conclusion: Psalm 93:1 was given to students at Chefoo School as they left for internment camp. Chefoo was a missionary boarding school operated by China Inland Mission, and when Japan invaded China the children were trapped. They were marched to one location and then to another. David Mitchell, who was a boy at the time, wrote this in his memoir: “When the day of our departure came, I shared with the others the fear of the unknown. We had awakened early that morning and were huddled together in our upstairs room, all packed and clutching what we could carry with us…. As we heard the shouts of the soldiers outside… we knew we would shortly be herded out again and marched off. Miss Ailsa Carr, our Prep School Principal, then opened the Bible to Psalm 93 and read the first verse, ‘The Lord reigneth.’ Very quietly she described the picture of the King upon His throne. She told us, ‘We do not need to be afraid. God is our King, and He is in control.’ We were too young to understand it, but her life reflected Deuteronomy 33:12, ‘The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him, and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders.’ After the teacher prayed, I looked up, and the fear of what might be ahead was gone. We marched through the gate, met up with the Girls’ School camp, and headed for the harbor, singing (the song), God is still on His throne.”[2]

[1] James L.  Mays, The Lord Reigns: A Theological Handbook to the Psalms (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1994), x, 12.

[2] David Michell, A Boy’s War (Singapore:  Overseas Missionary Fellowship, 1988), p. 56.