When we look at the world, it is possible to think that God is not in control. The Jewish people likely felt that way when the Babylonians destroyed the Temple. As the Bible tells us, after 70 years of exile, thousands of Jews returned to Jerusalem and recommitted themselves to God. Many of these events are detailed in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. This may have also been the time that Psalm 93 was written.
It begins with words declaring God’s authority and might:
Yahweh reigns! He is clothed with majesty! Yahweh is armed with strength. The world also is established. It can’t be moved.Psalm 93:1
At first reading of this, it’s possible to take “Yahweh reigns” for granted. After all, the Old Testament is filled with references to God’s authority and majesty. The Children of Israel would have surely taken pride in that fact. However, when the nation was defeated and foreign rulers were put on the throne, the sense of failure must have been profound. It would have felt like God stepped down from His throne.
Thankfully, decades later, this destruction was replaced with the Israelites’ return to the capital and rebuilding of the city walls. The Temple was also rebuilt. From the Israelites’ perspective, Yahweh was reigning on His throne again. Thus, the author of the psalm would have good reason to begin his text with mention of His reign. He also magnifies God with an image of Him being clothed with majesty. His power is also stressed. He is a glorious king armed with power and strength. All of these are encouraging statements.
The verse concludes with mention of the physical world. Although initially confusing, it is fitting for the context. Later statements also speak of the floods and waters of the earth (vv. 3-4). Those who suffered through the sack of Jerusalem would have felt that the world was falling apart. Like the beginning, the end of the verse also gives a sense of stabilization after facing a period of uncertainty.
However, there is only One who we can trust for complete security.
Your throne is established from long ago. You are from everlasting.Psalm 93:2
With the inclusion of the word “established,” verse two is strongly connected with the first. What intrigues me about it is how the word is used in different ways. The first part didn’t mention any time element. However, in the second, it says that God’s throne was established from long ago. Thus further strengthening the notion of Yahweh’s authority, and also reminding us of that being from ages past. Make no mistake, God has always had authority and power. He is from everlasting! Even when it seemed like everything was spinning out of control, His throne was established. It was sure.
On the other hand, the world needs God’s intervention to keep itself together.
Yahweh Is on High Above the Floods and Many Waters
The floods have lifted up, Yahweh, the floods have lifted up their voice. The floods lift up their waves. 4 Above the voices of many waters, the mighty breakers of the sea, Yahweh on high is mighty.Psalm 93:3-4
The next two verses of the psalm are incredible in contrasting Yahweh with the world yet again. The author turns his attention to the waters of the earth. With its repetition of floods and water, it is almost like they are trying to overwhelm the God of the universe. In verse 3 the lifting up of the floods is stated the same number of times. The next verse then describes the thundering voices of many waters and the mighty breakers of the sea. The latter of which may be describing waves crashing against a shoreline.
In my studies for this psalm, some have viewed the multitude of waters as a reference to world powers fighting against the kingdom of God. That may be so, but I’d rather focus directly on the conflict between the Almighty and the waters. What strikes me about the first verse is that it amplifies the aggression of the floods, and is silent on Yahweh’s response to them.
The next one then turns that around with a simple word, “Above.” The text mentions the voices of many waters and mighty breakers, but something is above them. As we read through it, we are not brought back to Yahweh and His attributes until the end. Such a delay heightens the tension until the very end of verse 4. When we see Him again, we know that He is mighty and above all the floods that seem so threatening.
Your statutes stand firm. Holiness adorns your house, Yahweh, forever more.Psalm 93:5
By the end of the text, all matters of the world and the many waters are no longer a concern. Like God’s throne that is established, so are His statutes. The words of the Almighty will not be moved. His testimonies and precepts are as He has decreed, and even the strongest forces of nature cannot sway them. The Divine power of God is awesome, and superior to all the world.
Our text then ends with another surprising change. There is a sudden mention of God’s house. This may be a reference to the Temple after it was rebuilt. With its rededication and service to Yahweh, holiness would indeed adorn His house again. Although the temple was eventually destroyed again, the house of the family of God is always holy, forever more.
Huge Wave in the Ocean by EliasSch from Pixabay.