"The Sovereign's Psalm"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2005 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Psalm 93 verse 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. Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting. The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves. The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea. Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O LORD, for ever".
This is a Psalm, as you will note at the top underneath the title of 'Psalm 93', which has not been ascribed a specific title as many of the other psalms have, and neither has it been ascribed an author. Sometimes as you go through the book of Psalms you will see a Psalm of Asaph, or a Psalm of David, or the Sons of Korah - but there is no title nor author to this Psalm. Indeed, the occasion is debated by commentators and teachers alike, but really it is conjecture. None of us really know the reason why whoever wrote this Psalm wrote it in the first place. The likelihood is, probably, the nation found themselves in political trouble. Their enemies were about to attack them, I think that you can at least read that between the lines, and therefore - as often is the occasion when you are in trouble - they lifted their eyes from the earth to heaven, and asked God for help. They, like David, encouraged themselves in the Lord, and they started to remember again that the Lord is sovereign - that even when circumstances may be adverse, not the way we would hope or like things to go, the Psalmist reminds us that the Lord still is King.
That is what they needed, and I would vouch to say that gathered here today in this century as God's people, that's what you need to hear as well. Now we can also read into this Psalm the likelihood that some of the people felt that God perhaps had vacated His throne. What do I mean? Well, they traditionally were instructed from children to have faith in God - and no matter what came across their political and national pathway, they were to believe that the Lord still was God, and that the Lord would look after them and deliver them. Often the exodus was the case in point that was given to them, 'As God has delivered us in the past, so He will deliver us in the future'. But as you know, and as I know, when things go wrong we often start to doubt God. Our faith becomes weak, perhaps some of these Jewish people thought that God perhaps had stepped down from His throne - but the delightful sight that we glance at, at the very first couple of verses of this Psalm, is that faith again is bolstered in our downtrodden hearts, and they see in the midst of their troubles, in the midst of their turmoil, in the midst of the clouds of darkness that seem to be gathering and blocking out any sight of Almighty God, that God stands to His feet. He stands erect from His throne, He clothes Himself in His regal apparel, He ascends His lofty seat and He acknowledges Himself again as the God and sovereign of His people.
'The Lord reigneth!' - the opening statement of this Psalm. Whatever is going on, whatever has been happening, the Lord reigneth! The Jewish Talmud, or what has been also called the Babylonian Talmud, which was a verbal tradition of the Jews that was later written down after our Lord came on the earth, says that it was the custom of the Jews to sing this 93rd Psalm on the sixth day of the week. That would suit, when you think about it, when you think of the subject matter talking of waves and nature and so on, because on the sixth day of the creation week God finished His creation, it was the founding of the world in a new creation. Many scholars believe that this Psalm was also sung during the Feast of the Tabernacles. Now I don't have time to go into everything that that means, but the Feast of the Tabernacles in the Old Testament was a type or a picture of what we still await as God's people today in the millennial reign of Christ. Christ, after He comes to judge the world, will bring His saints with Him and for a thousand years He will reign among this earth with a rod of righteous iron, and this creation again will know the sway of an Almighty Sovereign God.
Alfred Edersheim, who was a Jewish scholar himself, says that most Jewish interpreters believe that this Psalm and the next six, some of which we've been looking at already today, form part of a section that looks forward to the times of Messiah. Now of course these Jewish people, when they wrote it in the Old Testament, were looking for one complete coming of Messiah, and we know that when He came the first time to Bethlehem He did not come in the capacity that many of them expected Him. The way in which the prophets, minor and major, described His coming in judgment is yet to be in His second advent. But we can see that this Psalm and the next six Psalms could also be prophetically a hymn book that will be used during the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. I'll leave that with you for your consideration, as the hymn says:
'That day when blessings abound where'er He reigns,
The prisoner leaps to loose his chains,
The weary find eternal rest,
And all the sons of want are blessed
When Jesus reigns where'er the sun
Doth its successive journeys run'.
What a day that will be! But what I want to consider is not the prophetic aspect of this Psalm, but the subject of it; the subject being the omnipotence, the all-powerful sovereignty of God. Despite all the opposition the people are facing, the cry from the very beginning is: 'Jehovah reigns, He reigns supreme, He has supremacy in His creation, in His providence, and in His redemption'. I think that next to the awesome study of the being of God, and the nature of God, and the wonders of His many attributes, there is nothing more awe-inspiring than considering the sovereign dominion and reign of God. That is exactly what is celebrated in this Psalm, and I want us to consider today that the Lord reigns. It has been the song of the Lord's people right throughout the Old and the New Testament, and the book of the Revelation tells us that it will always, throughout eternity, be the song - Revelation 19: 'The Lord God omnipotent reigneth'.
So, let us look at this sovereign Psalm, but before we do, can I ask you: this morning as you are met together with God's people, do you echo this song in your heart? Whatever your circumstances are, are you crying from your heart: 'I know whatever befalls me, the Lord God omnipotent reigneth'? Or are you like some of these Jews, and you think that in your particular circumstances God has vacated the throne of your life? Well, let's look at how this Psalmist tells us that this Lord God omnipotent does reign. Matthew Henry is very helpful in the way he breaks this Psalm up. He describes fivefold the description of how the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
The first thing in this Psalm is found in verse 1: 'The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty'. The Lord reigns majestically, and that is our first consideration. Matthew Henry says: 'Majesty of earthly princes compared with God's terrible majesty, is but like the glimmering of the glowworm compared with the brightness of the sun as it goes forth in its track' - a glowworm beside the sun, a prince, a potentate, a king compared to the King of Kings, the Lord God omnipotent who reigns. He has clothed Himself with majesty. Now notice, it does not say that He has clothed Himself with the emblems of majesty. Our own Queen is clothed with the emblems of majesty, and every queen and king and president and potentate takes upon themselves perhaps a crown, or a garment, or a garter to show who they are, or a sceptre or a sword - but our Lord is not clothed with the emblems of majesty, He is clothed with majesty itself. Everything about Him, everything around Him is majestic.
It is obvious to say that we need not fear any mortal sovereign, any earthly leader, any Prime Minister, any president, any king or queen - because our God is the very epitome, the essence of majesty. He reigns majestically in His world, and that means if you're a child of God today, He reigns majestically in your life - or at least He ought to. The second description in this Psalm of how the Lord reigns is that He reigns powerfully: 'The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength'. Not only is He like a prince in the palace, clothed with majesty, but He's like a general or a commander in the camp of battle: He is clothed with strength and might.
He's not just a King that is clothed with robes, but He is a King that is clothed with armour - He is ready to fight and go into the battle. This speaks to us of His strength, in other words that He is omnipotent, He is almighty, He can do anything. Therefore we need not fear the onslaught of earthly armies; we need not fear, as believers, the might of men - whether it be political, ecclesiastical, whether it is relational in our own domestic or employment lives. We need fear nothing, for this God is our God! The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?
He reigns powerfully, but look at the description of how His power is girded. It says: 'the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself'. His power is not derived from another, the extending and executing of His power doesn't need anyone else's permission, it doesn't depend on another first cause or something coming into line in an equation or a formula before God acts. God girds Himself with power! He is self-sufficient. Men's power, even the power of the highest King, the highest ruler in the land - if you read the book of Romans - their power is a borrowed power, but God's power is His own: perfect, supreme, almighty power. That's why the Lord Jesus taught His disciples, and does He not teach us today in our world from Matthew's gospel chapter 10, that we ought not to fear those who can kill the body, destroy the body, but we ought to fear the One who can destroy both body and soul in hell.
This Psalmist goes on a bit further telling us: 'he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved'. Whether men care to recognise it or not and acknowledge it, this whole world owes its very existence today to that same power of God wherewith He girds Himself. Of course, we know from the book of Genesis that this world owes its origin to God: in the beginning He created this whole universe. But the Psalmist's point in his day, and its application to us today is that we still, as a planet and as a universe, owe our existence and our sustenance to Almighty God. What a paradox it is when we think of it, that our God in the beginning hung this world upon nothing, and yet this world and the universe it is in still hangs - it cannot be moved, the Psalmist says, it cannot be changed, for the God who made it cannot be changed, so it cannot be changed.
Perhaps you're thinking, like many, 'Well, this universe and our planet is subject to many many natural disasters, and what about Boxing Day of the year past - the 26th of December, that great tsunami which came upon our world and devastated populations of our world, up to perhaps 200,000' - I don't know the exact death toll now - 'What about that? How can you say that God is in control? What about the meteorites?'. Well, generally speaking, generally speaking you would have to admit, despite the fears of men, the predictions of men, the rumour mill that we see in our daily tabloids and in the documentaries about how the world is going to be destroyed by this, that and the other thing - the world has existed as it has always existed, and God has been sovereign in its existence, because if God was to withdraw His sovereign rule this world would be cast into chaos. The earth would spin out of its orbit, it would fall from its axis, our lives would be destroyed in anarchy. Whilst, at times, I believe God allows these natural disasters to remind us of our own frailty and our own dependence that ought to be upon God - is it not amazing to you that through the annals and the millennia of time, God has kept even this fallen world in His hand, and has sustained it by the word of His power, which tells us that our God is no idle spectator.
I'm in danger of being libelled because I say this so much, but I hate that song 'From a distance God is watching you' - it's a nice tune, but the words are nonsense! God is not a Creator who is an absentee landlord, who has made us and stands back, and because we have fallen He watches us and sees us warring and fighting in reckless sin. God is a God who has sustained this planet for His own devices, for His own ends, and for His own glory. This is where the rationalism of atheism falls down. You know what atheism means, I heard someone define on the radio this week that atheism means 'without belief' - that is nonsense. 'A-theism' means 'without God'. To be a 'theist' means that you believe in God, to be an 'a-theist' means that you don't believe in God; and the rational outcome and destination of all atheism is chaos. You cannot have order without an orderer, and atheism is the mother of anarchy.
Not only do atheists believe that in some way there is chaos out there, because God is not in control, but I'm sad to say today - and I've mentioned this to you before - that within the theological halls of evangelicalism, neo-evangelicalism, and particularly in seminaries in the United States, there is a doctrine that has now evolved and found root in some establishments that we would have held previously in high esteem. It is called 'open theism' - 'atheism', no God; 'theism', belief in God; 'open theism', means that the future is open for God. In other words, God doesn't really know how things are going to work out and pan out in the end, indeed God has undetermined the future, it is unknown to Him. Can you imagine this? When the Scripture teaches that the cornerstone of an individual's life, the cornerstone of the Israelites, of the church of Jesus Christ, indeed the cornerstone of any nation must be the belief in the rule and the sovereignty of God. So-called Bible believing Christians are disposing of this doctrine, to believe that God doesn't know, God hasn't determined how things will end. Well, this Psalm declares to the contrary: He reigns and rules majestically, He reigns and governs powerfully, for He is the one who gave this world its origin, He is the one who has preserved this world.
We see thirdly, from verse 2: 'Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting'. He reigns eternally, of old - the reason why this God, Jehovah, has the right to govern comes from the fact that He brought this world into existence, He gave this universe its laws; and therefore because He is its author, its sustainer, its legislator, His right to rule in this universe is incontestable. Before there was another ruler, He was, He was sovereign in the universe, He was the principal power that existed. His throne, verse 2 says, was established of old; and 1 Corinthians 15 says that His throne will continue, and eventually He will have put down all His enemies. Paul says: 'Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power'.
But this is what I want you to see: the Psalmist is telling us that before there was another, before there was even a Satan to challenge God's rule, God ruled. He defines it in this way in the second half of verse 2: 'Thou art from everlasting, and therefore Thy throne is established of old'. You perhaps hear of ancient dynasties, our own one is quite a modern one - but you go into China and you hear of dynasties for many many hundreds of years - but here is a dynasty! What are these to God? A dynasty that is of old, from the very beginning, and because He is everlasting His throne and His dominion is such.
What a reign! He reigns majestically, He reigns powerfully, He reigns eternally, and fourthly He reigns in verses 3 and 4 'triumphantly': 'The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves. The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea'. Now, if you know the Old Testament Scriptures you will know that the sea is often taken as a metaphor of the Gentile nations that raise up their angry head of pride against God. In fact, Isaiah compared the wicked, the nations round about of evil men that will not worship God but worship idols, he compares them to the tempestuous and the troubled sea. Remember the Psalmist in Psalm 2 says: 'The heathen rage', that's the picture here. The seas, the waves and their noise, the nations of the world that think they can overcome and drown the influence of God, sink the ship of the church of Jesus Christ. This figure of the seas and the waves and the noise of them is repeated throughout these two verses, that is used for poetry and for the music of the Psalm, but what it suggests to us is the frequency of man's assaults against God. From the beginning of time these waves have been beating against the established tower of God's reign.
Perhaps you have heard it this week yourself, maybe you have been at the sharp edge of it. The fact of the matter is, God governs - whatever men say, He governs majestically and powerfully, eternally and triumphantly. Though you say, like the Psalmist in Psalm 18: 'The floods of the ungodly men made me afraid', and maybe in this week you've allowed the floods of danger to come in upon your soul, maybe it's fear, maybe it's lust, maybe it's a passion of some kind like jealousy or covetousness or hatred - and those floods, you felt, are almost going to drown the very witness of grace that God's Spirit has put into your heart. But here is what the Psalmist says: if the Lord reigns in your heart, if He is Lord and God of your life, even the wind and the sea will obey Him. Isn't that wonderful?
Verse 4 says: 'The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea'. He is mightier, the waves of men cannot touch Him, He is the transcendent God above all. You notice that he says it is the noise of these waters, it's as if God just regards them as a noise - they're no threat to Him! It's all puff and blow, it's all blast and wind and wave, but it doesn't really touch Him. Now I don't know if you've been to Niagara Falls, I haven't, but I have heard this: that you can hardly hear a thing because of the massive quantity of water that goes over that Fall, and the great noise of the roaring rushing waters. But yet God says these things are nothing to Him, He's expressing contempt - it's like in Psalm 2, where the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing, and it says that He shall laugh at their calamity. Matthew Henry put it like this: 'The raging world is more sound than substance to God'.
Do you remember what Isaiah said? 'Behold, the nations are as a drop in the bucket, and are accounted as a small thing to God, a piece of dust in the balance. Behold, He taketh up the islands as a very little thing'. There are those in this world today, political, religious, individual, maybe even in your life that lift up their voices against God. Maybe it's not just their voices but their acts, they send waves against you - but while they foam and bluster, whatever they do - hallelujah! - the waves must obey Him. He is unlimited, irresistible in His sovereignty, He is Jehovah - the Lord omnipotent that reigneth.
What did David say in that well-loved Psalm, Psalm 46 verses 1, 2 and 3: 'The LORD is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains', these great eternal testimonies and monuments of time, 'though they be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof' - God is still a refuge, and in the midst of all that turmoil we can be still and know that He is God. What did God say to Isaiah? 'Though thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee'.
That is how He reigns: majestically, powerfully, eternally, triumphantly, and then fifthly in truth and in holiness. In verse 5 we read: 'Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O LORD, for ever'. God's rule is unshakable, and because God's rule is unshakable this planet is unshakable until He gives the word - but now he wants to teach us that because God's being is unshakable, this world is unshakable. His word is reliable for He is the author of this word. Divine truth does not rest upon the opinions of the theologians, pastors and teachers, and evangelists of our age. It does not depend upon the opinion of men or the storms of human controversy, whatever they may be. God's word is sure, but notice what he says: it's not just sure, it's very sure! In Psalm 19 he said: 'The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple'.
Faithfulness becomes God's word, and then he says in verse 5: 'holiness becomes God's house'. That is very interesting: faithfulness becomes God's word, holiness becomes God's house - what becomes our age today? Well, that changes as the wind and the waves, doesn't it? Something that becomes an age is like a dress that becomes a lady - 'That's becoming to you', people will say in your favour, they admire you: 'That's becoming to you'. But things that are becoming change with fashion and with fads, but what we find here is that God's being never changes, and so God's word never changes, and so what becomes God's word in unchangeability must become God's house - which means that we, as God's people, ought not to change because God's word does not change!
I know that there are changes as time goes by, but one thing must never change and that is that holiness must always become the house of God. The house of God is not this building, it's you and I, the church of Jesus Christ, living stones that make up the church. The Lord is in His temple, let the earth keep silence before Him.
Now let me sum it all up in a couple of words: this Psalm is a picture of the King, and the King administrating His effortless sovereignty majestically, powerfully, eternally, triumphantly, in truth and holiness. What does that mean to me? It means this, my friend: your little problem is no obstacle to this God, whatever it is. When the floods, whatever they may be, lay hold upon your soul, these are three anchors that you can hold on to - it's the progression of this Psalm: there is nothing more powerful than the Lord, He is all-powerful. The second anchor is that there is nothing more steadfast than His reign, it cannot be shaken by Satan, by hell, by the world, by sin. And the third anchor is that there is nothing more sure than His revelation, and you can trust in His word. I tell you, if there's a recipe for revival this is it: for a revival is the place in the church and in the life of a believer when God reigns, revival is when His power is felt among His people, where His kingdom is established, where the opposition of the world, the flesh and the devil is overcome, when His word is valued, when holiness is cultivated - that's when God is among His people!
He's always majestic, He's always powerful, but there's times in the history of God's people when He has manifested Himself as such, when He has arisen and girded Himself with majesty and power for all to see. If there is a prayer that God's people should be praying today, whatever dispensation it is, it should be that the Lord would manifest His power and His majesty. It should be: 'Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven'. But what about your personal struggle today? Are you like the disciples in the boat when the Lord was asleep? The storm began to squall and to rise, and they ran to the hinder part and they shook Him and tried to awaken Him, and said: 'Master, carest Thou not that we perish'. He got up and He rebuked them for their little faith, and then He went out and rebuked the winds and the sea, and He just said to the wind: 'Be still'. I'm led to believe the word is the word that the shepherd used to the sheepdog to lie down.
What He has done for others, He can do for you. He's a God to be feared, isn't He? When we look into His revealed will we find that He's not only a God to be feared, but He's a God to be trusted. When we take those two things and put them together, do you know what the only conclusion is? He is a God to be worshipped. Let us fear Him, let us trust Him, and let us worship Him.
'Fading is the worldlings pleasure,
All his boasted pomp and show.
Solid joys and lasting treasure
None but Zion's children know'.
We acknowledge today, and will throughout all the ages of eternity, that the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever and ever. Lord, may He be reigning in the heart of every creature gathered here today under the sound of Thy word. If it is the redemption of the precious blood that they need, may they bow and receive it by mercy and grace. If it is afresh to declare His Lordship in their life, may they acknowledge it once more. We pray today through the preaching of this word, and through this worship, that glory will be brought to the Lord God omnipotent who reigns world without end, Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the recording titled "The Sovereign's Psalm" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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