The Sovereignty of God (Psalm 93)

In the frigid waters around Greenland are countless icebergs, some little and some gigantic. If you’d observe them carefully, you’d notice sometimes the small icebergs move in one direction while their massive counterparts flow in another. The explanation is simple. Surface winds drive the little ones one way, while the huge masses of ice are carried along by deep ocean currents. This begs the question, “What moves you?”

When we face trials, tragedies, crisis, and heartaches, it’s helpful to see our lives as being subject to two forces—surface winds and ocean currents. The surface winds represent everything changeable, unpredictable, and distressing. The direction of the surface winds is also temporary. Operating simultaneously with these gusts and gales is another force that’s even more powerful. The deep ocean currents are steady, predictable, and unchanging. It is the sure movement of God’s purposes, the deep flow of God’s sovereignty that should move and direct your life. Surface winds will change, sending you in circles. Only trusting the current of God’s sovereignty will keep you moving forward.

If there is one thing I have learned since March, it is how quickly the surface winds of time, circumstances, and culture can change. Simply put, November 15, 2020 looks a lot different from March 15, 2020.

How we relate to one another has changed. Do we shake-hands? How far apart should we be when we talk, with or without masks? What does community look like in a social-distancing culture?

How we work has changed. Do we wear masks and gloves all day? Do we work from home? How do we great and interact with co-workers? Will we ever return to the number of hours we were working before COVID?

Our educational system has gone through a tremendous amount of change. What are the long-term effects of students and teachers social-distancing and wearing masks in the classroom? Can distance learning be as effective as in-person learning? How do these changes increase the inequality of students based on income? How do we encourage extra-curricular activities?

Entertainment has changed. How safe are large events? What about going to the movies, or going out to eat? What about sporting events?

How we do “church” has changed. When do we meet again? Do we sing? What about mega-churches? What does it really mean to be a “church?”

And of course, now, we have changed presidents (I think), and that has caused all kinds of stress and uncertainty. What does the future hold?

Are we going to let the surface winds direct our course, or are we going to be moved by something (or Someone) deeper? Trusting in the sovereignty of God is the deep current that keeps you on a steady course.

Psalm 93

In 1896, Auguste Rodin (d. 1917), a French artist, sculpted his famous “The Hand of God.” An intriguing piece of art to say the least. The sculpture is a large right hand, emerging from a roughhewn block of marble, holding a clog of earth. Two struggling human forms—Adam and Eve—are emerging from the clog. Some people have referred to this beautiful work as the sovereignty of God, as God’s hand holds His creation, adjusting and shaping, as His creation—Adam and Eve—shape themselves.

Long before Rodin’s work, there was another masterpiece describing the sovereignty of God. That masterpiece was Psalm 93. Written during the Babylonian captivity (5th century BC; think Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar), the author is unknown and the psalm untitled. The people reading this psalm were oppressed and defeated; unsure of the future. Their lives were in disarray. The only thing keeping them going was their trust in God’s sovereignty.

Within Judaism, past and present, Psalm 93 was sung on Friday, the sixth day of creation week. Why Friday? In Hebrew this psalm contains 45 words which is the numerical value of the word adam, and Adam was created on the sixth day. Furthermore, in this psalm, God is described as “robed in majesty” (v. 1). It was believed by the ancient Rabbis that after God created the world, He clothed Himself in grandeur in preparation for the Sabbath. Likewise, within ancient Judaism, people dressed up on Fridays in preparation for Sabbath. Thus, Psalm 93 is known as a “Sabbath Psalm.” It is also believed this psalm is a Messianic Psalm, pointing to the time when all the earth will acknowledge God as King.

The psalm begins, “The LORD reigns…” (v. 1). The name “LORD” is Yahweh, God’s personal name; the proper name of the God of Israel. To “reign” means to be the king. In a culture that did not acknowledge the Hebrew God, a group of powerless, oppressed people proclaimed, “Our God is King!” This is both a statement of faith and a declaration of allegiance. Regardless of our circumstances, or who leads our government, or who is our president, God is our King. Our God is sovereign over all!

To say, “It doesn’t matter who is president, God is King,” is not flippant. This past week I was reminded that such a statement could be seen as a statement coming from privilege. In other words, it’s easy for someone like me to say that no matter who is in the White House, God is still on His throne because I have never had to fight for my rights, or standing, in this culture. But for those who have been oppressed or marginalized by our government, it matters greatly who is in control. That is why I pointed out Psalm 93 was written to a people who had lost everything. Many of them, like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, had been dragged from their homes and forced to serve the pagan king, Nebuchadnezzar. At best, they were second-class citizens. At worst, they were slaves. It was people who had no rights or standing in their society who were proclaiming the sovereignty of God! You and I, regardless of our social-standing, are children of the Most High. Regardless of what the world says we are royalty. I don’t know about you, but I find incredible hope and encouragement in knowing the God of the Bible is Ruler over all.

The Sovereignty of God

In the remaining verses, the psalmist describes the sovereignty of God. What does it mean to confess God is sovereign? From Psalm 93 we discover seven meanings

  1. To confess God is sovereign means God is MAJESTIC.

The psalmist writes, “…he is clothed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty…” (v. 1b-c). The same Hebrew word is translated “clothed” and “robed.” Two different English words are used for emphasis. The word “majesty” can also be translated “glorious,” or “splendor.” Poetically, this phrase expresses the glory associated with ALL of God’s works. The idea is that our sovereign God is to be worshiped because of who He is. God’s beauty is unmatched. God is awesome beyond our comprehension. Our only response to God’s glory is to fall on our knees in adoration, praise, and worship.

Our sovereign God is majestic.

  1. To confess God is sovereign means God is STRONG.

Not only is God “robed in majesty,” He is also “…armed with strength” (v. 1d). In Him all things exist and through Him all things are sustained. There is nothing too hard for God. There is nothing stronger than God. Nothing catches Him by surprise. The idea is that our sovereign God will never be defeated. There is safety and security in God’s strength.

Our sovereign God is strong and majestic. He rules over everything and everyone. Therefore, do not worry.

  1. To confess God is sovereign means God is IMMOVEABLE.

The psalmist continues, “The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved” (v. 1). In other words, no matter what you are going through, or what our country is going through, it’s not the end of the world until God says it’s the end of the world. God has not forgotten you. God is immoveable and unchangeable. He is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). I imagine the people in exile, singing this song, received comfort and encouragement to keep going through these words. It may feel like the earth is slipping away beneath our feet. It may seem like our future is uncertain. But our God does not change. He is immoveable. He will never change, and He is always there.

Our sovereign God is immoveable, strong, and majestic. These words describe, not only His person, but also His activity. In His strength, majesty and genius, God has constructed a world that is firmly established and cannot be moved—unless HE moves it.  God is beyond worthy to be praised.[1]

  1. To confess God is sovereign means God is ETERNAL.

The psalmist then reminds us, “Your throne was established long ago; you are from eternity” (v. 2). Before the world was established, before the world was created, God was already sitting on His throne. Nations and Empires come and go. Kings and kingdoms come and go. Presidents and Prime Ministers come and go. Senators and Governors and Mayors come and go. The ash-heap of history is full of the once strong and mighty. But God is still God. He still sits on His throne. There has never been a time, and there will never be a time, when God did not reign. He is the “Alpha and the Omega…who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).

Whatever you are going through is only temporary. Whatever forces seems to be in control right now, it is only temporary. Hardships and heartache are all temporary. But God is eternal, and His throne endures forever. In the words of the spiritual, We’ll Understand it Better By and By:

We are often destitute
of the things that life demands,
want of food and want of shelter,
thirsty hills and barren lands;
we are trusting in the Lord,
and according to God’s word,
we will understand it better by and by.

Trials dark on every hand,
and we cannot understand
all the ways of God would lead us
to that blessed promised land;
but he guides us with his eye,
and we’ll follow till we die,
for we’ll understand it better by and by.

Our sovereign God is eternal, immoveable, strong, and majestic. He is worthy of our worship. He provides security, comfort, encouragement, and an eternal perspective that helps us endure and overcome the temporary insanity of our world.

  1. To confess God is sovereign means God is ORDERLY.

 The ancient people believed their gods to be gods of chaos. In, and through, chaos, the gods got what they wanted. In, and through, chaos, the gods manipulated people and events. Through chaos the gods ruled the world and fought with each other. Through disorder the gods punished mortals. Chaos was the work of the divine and nothing was more chaotic then the vast, powerful oceans.

But the God of the Hebrews, our sovereign God, creates order out of chaos. In contradiction to the pagan gods of chaos, the psalmist writes, “The seas have lifted up, O LORD, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea—the LORD on high is mighty” (vv. 3-4). In other words, as mighty as the seas may be, God is mightier. To us, storms and hurricanes seem like chaos; but to God, it’s just another day at the beach.

Our God calms the storms. Our God sleeps while the waves roar. Our God walks on water. Our God brings sense out of non-sense. Our God brings order out of chaos. That is simply who He is. Our God spoke the world into existence; and when our God speaks, demons flee. Right now, you may not comprehend. But no matter how out of control your life may be, our sovereign God can bring order out of the chaos. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:28, 37-39).

Our sovereign God is orderly, eternal, immoveable, strong, and majestic. He is worthy of our praise and worship. He provides security, comfort, encouragement, an eternal perspective, and a purpose in the middle of life’s storms.

  1. To confess God is sovereign means God is TRUSTWORTHY.

The psalmist continues, “Your statutes stand firm…” (v. 5a). It only stands to reason, if God is sovereign, if He is the creator and sustainer of all, then what He says is true. When God tells us to do something it is to our benefit to do it. When God says to not do something, He says it because He knows what is best for us.

In Psalm 19:7-11, concerning the words and admonition of God, David wrote, “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statues of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. But them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”

Our sovereign God is trustworthy, orderly, eternal, immoveable, strong, and majestic. He is worthy of our adoration and allegiance. Our sovereign God provides security, comfort, encouragement, an eternal perspective, a purpose in the middle of life’s storms, and wise counsel on how to live life.

  1. To confess God is sovereign means God is HOLY.

Holiness is the primary characteristic of our sovereign God. Before He is anything else, He is holy. Thus, the psalmist concludes by singing, “…holiness adorns your house for endless days, O LORD” (v. 5b). It is because of God’s holiness that His “statutes stand firm.” It is because He is holy that all He does is right and righteous. God’s holiness will endure forever.

Our sovereign God is holy, trustworthy, orderly, eternal, immoveable, strong, and majestic. He is worthy of all our praise. Our sovereign God provides security, comfort, encouragement, an eternal perspective, a purpose in the middle of life’s storms, wise counsel on how to live life, and before He is anything else, our sovereign God is holy.

CONCLUSION

The story is told of battleship that had been at sea on routine maneuvers under heavy weather, off the California coast, for several days. The captain, who was worried about the deteriorating weather conditions, stayed on the bridge to keep an eye on all activities. One night, the lookout on the bridge suddenly shouted, “Captain! A light, bearing on the starboard bow.”

“Is it stationary or moving astern?” the captain asked.

The lookout replied that it was stationary. This meant the battleship was on a dangerous collision course with the other ship. The captain immediately ordered his signalman to signal to the ship: “We are on a collision course. I advise you to change course 20 degrees east.”

Back came a response from the other ship: “You change course 20 degrees west.”

Agitated by the arrogance of the response, the captain asked his signalman to shoot out another message: “I am a captain, you change course 20 degrees east.”

Back came the second response: “I am a second-class seaman, you change course 20 degrees west.”

The captain was furious this time! He shouted to the signalman to send back a final message: “I am a battleship. Change course 20 degrees east right now!”

Back came the flashing response: “I am a lighthouse. Change course 20 degrees west right now.”

The captain duly changed course.

In the storms, hurricanes, and tsunamis of life, like a lighthouse, God’s sovereignty is the only constant. We can try to bend God’s sovereignty to our plans but doing so will shipwreck our lives. Our only choice is to change our course and submit to the sovereignty of God. We can do so with confidence, knowing that God is majestic, strong, immoveable, eternal, orderly, trustworthy, and holy.  In our chaotic constantly changing world, His sovereignty is the only thing to trust.

Will you place your faith and trust in the only sovereign God?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Adapted from the website, “Enduring Word Bible Commentary Psalm 93.

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About Pastor Kevin

I am a husband, father, pastor, teacher, scuba diver, reader, bike rider...in that order.
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