PSALM 93 OVERVIEW.
This brief Psalm is without title or name of author, but its subject is obvious enough, being stated in the very first line. It is the Psalm of Omnipotent Sovereignty: Jehovah, despite all opposition, reigns supreme. Possibly at the time this sacred ode was written, the nation was in danger from its enemies, and the hopes of the people of God were encouraged by remembering that the Lord was still King. What sweeter and surer consolation could they desire?
Verse 1. The LORD reigneth, or Jehovah reigns. Whatever opposition may arise, his throne is unmoved; he has reigned, does reign, and will reign for ever and ever. Whatever turmoil and rebellion there may be beneath the clouds, the eternal King sits above all in supreme serenity; and everywhere he is really Master, let his foes rage as they may. All things are ordered according to his eternal purposes, and his will is done. In the verse before us it would seem as if the Lord had for a while appeared to vacate the throne, but on a sudden he puts on his regal apparel and ascends his lofty seat, while his happy people proclaim him with new joy, shouting "The Lord reigneth." What can give greater joy to a loyal subject than a sight of the king in his beauty? Let us repeat the proclamation, "the Lord reigneth," whispering it in the ears of the desponding, and publishing it in the face of the foe.
He is clothed with majesty. Not with emblems of majesty, but with majesty itself: everything which surrounds him is majestic. His is not the semblance but the reality of sovereignty. In nature, providence, and salvation the Lord is infinite in majesty. Happy are the people among whom the Lord appears in all the glory of his grace, conquering their enemies, and subduing all things unto himself; then indeed is he seen to be clothed with majesty.
The LORD is clothed with strength. His garments of glory are not his only array, he wears strength also as his girdle. He is always strong, but sometimes he displays his power in a special manner, and may therefore be said to be clothed with it; just as he is always majestic essentially, but yet there are seasons when he reveals his glory, and so wears his majesty, or shows himself in it. May the Lord appear in his church, in our day in manifest majesty and might, saving sinners, slaying errors, and honouring his own name. O for a day of the Son of man, in which the King Immortal and Almighty shall stand upon his glorious high throne, to be feared in the great congregation, and admired by all them that believe.
Wherewith he hath girded himself. As men gird up their loins for running or working, so the Lord appears in the eyes of his people to be preparing for action, girt with his omnipotence. Strength always dwells in the Lord Jehovah, but he hides his power full often, until, in answer to his children's cries, he puts on strength, assumes the throne, and defends his own. It should be a constant theme for prayer, that in our day the reign of the Lord may be conspicuous, and his power displayed in his church and on her behalf. "Thy kingdom come" should be our daily prayer: that the Lord Jesus does actually reign should be our daily praise.
The world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved. Because Jehovah reigns terrestrial things for a while are stable. We could not be sure of anything if we were not sure that he has dominion. When he withdraws his manifest presence from among men all things are out of order; blasphemers rave, persecutors rage, the profane grow bold, and the licentious increase in wantonness; but when the divine power and glory are again manifested order is restored, and the poor distracted world is at peace again. Society would be the football of the basest of mankind if God did not establish it, and even the globe itself would fly through space, like thistle down across the common, if the Lord did not hold it in its appointed orbit. That there is any stability, either in the world or in the church, is the Lord's doings, and he is to be adored for it. Atheism is the mother of anarchy; the reigning power of God exhibited in true religion is the only security for the human commonwealth. A belief in God is the foundation and cornerstone of a well ordered state.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. This is one of those magnificent psalms which describe Jehovah's reign. Even Jewish interpreters say of them: "these all treat of the things which will take place in the times of Messiah." Throughout it reads like a commentary and application of the great fundamental truth, "Jehovah reigneth." Already he hath laid the foundations of his kingdom in his Church, and anon shall he in his faithfulness and power establish it. Those elements which have hitherto resisted shall not be allowed to continue. Right royally he manifests himself. "He is clothed with majesty; clothed is Jehovah, might hath he girt about him." The present state of things is connected with Christ's humiliation. But when he puts on his royal mantle of majesty, and girds about him the sword of his might: "thus the world shall be established; it cannot be moved." And yet, though seemingly the enemy has long prevailed, "Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting." The establishment of his throne is the ground and the pledge of the establishment of the world and of his kingdom. "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever." In view of all this the Church stands a wondering spectator, first struck with awe, and then filled with adoring, gratitude. "The floods have lifted up, 0 Jehovah, they have lifted up their roaring; the floods are lifting up their dashing noise." The latter term refers to the sound of the waves as they break, and in connexion with it the change of tense is very marked. The enemies of God and his kingdom have risen like the floods or waves of the sea, lashed by the storm; with roaring noise have they advanced; but as they near the vessel which bears the King, their noise is that of waves dashing into foam. Their utmost nearness is -- to their destruction; their utmost noise is -- in breaking. And even now, and in the height of the storm also far overtopping not only all danger, but even its threatening noise, is Jehovah. "Jehovah on high" (even there) "is mightier than the roaring of many waters and mighty, than the breaking waves of the sea" (the word here rendered "breaking waves" being literally a derivative from the verb to break). What a picture this of our safety; what an epitome of the history of God's government and of his church! Thus the calming of the storm on the lake of Galilee was not only a parabolic representation of the history of the Kingdom of God, but also typical of the final consummation of all things; a summary of the past, a prophecy of the future, a type of the end. And what applies to the Church as a whole, holds equally true of individual believers. Let us ever remember that the noise is that of the breaking wave. Our greatest dangers are only breaking waves; waves which break at his feet. The same expression is also sometimes applied to the waves of God's wrath or judgments threatening to engulf the believer, as in Psalms 42:7 88:7. These also, blessed be his name, are only breaking waves. Meanwhile, while waiting for the manifestation of his majesty and might, "we have the more sure word of prophecy." "Thy testimonies are very sure" (very reliable, literally very Amen-ed): and, so far as we are concerned, our faith and patience are tried and proved: "Holiness becometh thine house, 0 LORD, for ever."
Thus we have here the history of the Church of God deduced from the text, "Jehovah reigneth." Those words are to us as "a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn and the daystar arise in our hearts." So long as they are left us, all that threatens us from without is only like the noise of the breaking wave. The unspeakable comfort conveyed in this assurance is ever tested in the experience of God's people. There is no truth more precious to the heart of the Christian than that "the LORD reigneth." The conviction of this must carry us far above all cares and fears. A personal God, a living God, a reigning God -- alike in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth -- and this God the Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, -- such are the steps by which we reach a height, where, far removed from the turmoil of men, we gain a comprehensive and clear view of earth and its concerns. I would not exchange the assurance which these two words, "Jehovah reigneth," convey, for all the wisdom, combined with all the power, of this world. Received into my heart, they are the solution of every difficulty, the end of all perplexity. It seems to me as if, after puzzling over the cross writing and hieroglyphics of men, I turned a fresh leaf, on the top of which stood these words, as the text to be preached out in all history, whether of the individual, the family, or the nation, the Church or the world. It seems as if, after revolving sorrowfully and helplessly all the difficulties and wants which distress my heart, I were at once rising above those floating clouds into clear atmosphere: as if all at once I were unburdened; as if I had reached a haven of rest; as if I had found a firm foundation, an ultimate principle. After all, in every real trial there is but this one final and full comfort. What matters the opinion of men, -- who may be for and who against me; who may be with me, or who may leave me. Who would speak of prospects or probabilities, of the support to be derived from wealth or power, or of the defections of friends on whose sympathy and help we had counted? "Jehovah reigneth!" There is light here across my every path, provided I follow Christ, walking in the narrow way. Only let me be sure that, in any and every respect, I am on the Lord's side and in the Lord's way, and I ask no more. My God has all the silver and all the gold in his own hand. He holdeth the hearts of all men at his disposal; he directeth all events, from the least to the greatest. If I want power with God or with men, let me pray; for, Jehovah reigneth. Nor let me think that special interpositions are either impossible or rare. They are constant. The course of God's providence is one of constant interposition; for "all things work together for good to them that love God." Only these interpositions are not violent, and therefore not noticed by the superficial observer; they are the interpositions of all wise and almighty God, not of poor, weak man; they are the interpositions, not interferences; they are the working of the machinery by the Mastermind which designed, and the Master hand which framed it. They are not the stoppage, but the working of the machinery, whereby its real object is wrought out.
Lastly, let me note in the Psalm these three things:
In creation and nature: preestablished law along with continuous, personal government, -- not as opposed to, but as presupposing one another ( Psalms 93:1-2 ). In Providence: "The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters" -- which would otherwise strike terror, even as their swelling would threaten constant danger. And in grace: "His testimonies are very sure." I can rest on them. Not one tittle or iota shall fall to the ground. Wherever I have a word of promise, I can safely plant my steps. The conclusion and inference from the whole matter is that "holiness" -- not fear nor man serving, but separation unto the Lord -- "becometh," or is the right, wise, and proper attitude of his house and people. Alfred Edersheim, in "The Golden Diary of Heart Converse with Jesus in the Book of Psalms," 1866.
Whole Psalm. It is mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud that it was the custom of the Jews to sing this psalm on the sixth day of the week, to which it is well suited as celebrating the reestablishing and founding again of the world in the new creation ( Psalms 93:1 ): which is confirmed by a title given to it in the Septuagint -- "On the day before the Sabbath, when the earth was founded: A Psalm of thanksgiving to (or for) David" -- adopted by the Vulgate and the Oriental Version in general. And thus is this Psalm identified in subject with the preceding: as also Hengstenberg observes -- "The reference, which it is impossible not to notice, in which `The Lord on high is mightier,' here ( Psalms 93:4 ) stands to `But Thou, Lord, art most high for evermore' ( Psalms 92:8 ) -- the kernel and middle point of the whole psalm -- has already led commentators to notice a near connexion between these two psalms... which is decidedly favoured by the contents; both psalms minister consolation to the Church, exposed to danger by the might of the world." He might have added -- in the promise they give of "the rest the Sabbatism that remains to the people of God," when both shall be fulfilled. W. De Burgh.
Verse 1. The LORD reigneth. It is a kind of proclamation in which God's people are invited to declare before men and angels that the Lord is King, He and He only. It is the response of the Church to the preaching of the gospel -- so rapturously hailed in Isaiah -- the preaching of the messenger "that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!" William Binnie.
Verse 1. The LORD. He describes God by the name Jehovah, partly, to lead us to think of the God of Israel, accustomed by this name to be distinguished from the gods of the nations; partly, to call to mind the virtues of veracity, grace and justice, comprehended by this name, and now clearly made known... When he says, Jehovah reigns, without adding any restriction, or mentioning any people, it would seem that the Kingdom of Jehovah is to be taken absolutely and generally, with equal reference to the government of the world and the church. In the former sense Jehovah may be said to reign, not as if He then at last begun to reign, but because He proved himself to be the King of the world in an extraordinary way, by giving public and manifest signs; by which it was clearly established that Jehovah is the true God, the Creator of heaven and earth, the Lord and Ruler of the whole universe, and a just and equitable judge, in inflicting notable judgements upon sinners, in casting down the idols, and vindicating the cause of true religion and virtue. This meaning I regard as contained in the general proposition: yet directly in its primary signification I understand the Kingdom of God in His Church, partly, because God is here said to vindicate the cause of religion, and of his people; partly, he is said, in Psalms 99:1 to show himself exalted in Zion, and there to undertake the Kingdom, Isaiah 24:23 , and often elsewhere in the Prophetic word; and lastly, because Jehovah, the King of his people, he himself who reigns, is set forth as the ruler of the universe. He is the King therefore of his people, He has his Kingdom in their midst, but to Him all things in heaven and earth are subject as well.
In this latter sense, therefore, the phrase, Jehovah has reigned, will stand for, He has undertaken the Kingdom, He is become King, as it is often used in the histories of the Kings of Judah and Israel; so also in Isaiah 28:23 , and elsewhere... When He is said to have taken the Kingdom in the midst of his people, it must not be understood absolutely, but in a restricted sense, in reference partly to the manner and form of rule, being more or less theocratic; partly, to the displays of the Divine Majesty, being more or less conspicuous; and partly, to the servile or afflicted state of his people, as extending from the Babylonish exile to the time of the Maccabees. In which times God is said to have taken the Kingdom, in many other prophecies beside this, Isaiah 24:21-23 , Obad., ult. Micah 4:6-8 . Venema.
Verse 1. The LORD reigneth. These are the initial words of Psalms 97:1 and Psalms 99:1 also. Perhaps a threefold manner of reigning is suggested, namely, over things subjected to God by a natural necessity, over those that resist his will and as far as in them lies withdraw themselves from his dominion, and over those who spontaneously and freely obey. For in this place the Kingdom is declared to be coextensive with the foundation of the world: in Psalms 97:1 it is hinted at for the exultation of the earth, and for the gladness of the isles; in Psalms 99:1 God is said to reign, although the people are angry, and the earth is filled with commotion. Zorinus.
Verse 1. The LORD reigneth. Having considered in all quarters the worldly rule of idols, and earthly deities or kings, the Psalmist at last bursts forth into the words which attribute supreme government to none other, but to Jehovah the true God. Let it be granted that the monarchs of Assyria, the kings of Egypt, and the masters of other nations, extend their empire far and wide; let it be allowed that royal majesty is ascribed to the idols by their worshippers; yet all these are as nothing to the kingdom and majesty of Jehovah. Martin Geier.
Verse 1. The LORD reigneth, i.e., the Lord has become King ( Psalms 96:10 97:1 99:1). The formula proclaimed at the accession of earthly sovereigns ( 2 Samuel 15:10 1 Kings 1:11 1 Kings 1:13 ; margin, 2 Kings 9:13 , "Jehu reigneth"). The reference is not to the ordinary and constant government of God, but to his assuming a new and glorious kingdom. The arrogant proclamation of the world power was virtually "the Assyrian reigneth"; the overthrow of him was God's counter proclamation: "The Lord (Jehovah) reigneth." The antitypical sense is, the world powers under Antichrist, energized by Satan ( Revelation 16:14 17:12-14,17), shall make one last desperate stroke, seemingly for the moment successful, for the dominion of the earth, in defiance of the Lord, ( 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 ) But Christ will take his great power and reign as King of kings and Lord of lords, having overthrown utterly the antichristian enemy. ( Isaiah 24:23 Obadiah 1:21 ; Zechariah 14:9 Revelation 11:15 Revelation 11:17 19:6.) A. R. Fausset.
Verse 1. The LORD reigneth. The very first words of this psalm seem to indicate a morning of calm repose after a night of storm, a day of stillness after the tumult of battle. "The LORD reigneth." "He hath put all enemies under his feet." Barton Bouchier.
Verse 1. The world also is established. The word world is properly taken for the habitable globe, and metonymically for the inhabitants of the earth. This is clear from Ps 24:1-2 89:12 9:9; Psalms 96:1 Psalms 96:3 98:9. In this passage the former signification seems to obtain, because this majestic King has fortified no tower or palace strongly, but the whole world, by the word of his power, that therein there might be a constant habitation for the men who worship Him, even to the destined day of the last judgment. Martin Geier.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Whole Psalm. Revivals of religion described.
- God reigns.
- His power is felt.
- His kingdom is established.
- Opposition is overcome.
- The word is valued.
- Holiness is cultivated.
Verse 1-2. The prophet in the first verse describes our King:
- From his office.
- He "reigns." He is the great and chief Monarch; he is no idle spectator of things below; but wisely, and justly, and powerfully administers all things.
- He is a glorious King: "He is clothed with majesty."
- He is a potent King: "The Lord is clothed with strength."
- He is a warlike King: "He hath girded himself," buckled his sword upon his armour; for offence towards his enemies, for defence of his kingdom.
- From his kingdom.
- It is universal: "The world."
- It is fixed, firm, and stable: "The world also is stablished, and cannot be moved."
- It is an everlasting kingdom: "From everlasting to everlasting; thy throne is established of old; thou art from everlasting." Adam Clarke.
Verse 1-2. Shew,
- The royal proclamation.
- The imperial robe.
- The stable kingdom.
- The ancient throne.
- The Eternal King. C.A.D.
- Make the great proclamation. The right, stability, antiquity, extent, perpetuity of the Lord's dominion.
- Note the different emotions it inspires. In the rebellious, condemned, loyal, &c.
- Negotiate for submission to the King. C. A. D.