Canute the Great was King of Denmark, England, and Norway. He was praised as a great monarch. But he feared his people thought too highly of him. On one occasion, Canute ordered his servants to place his royal chair by the seashore. Sitting on this throne, he demanded the waves to recede. Waiting for the waters to obey his command, he got wet as the waters splashed around him. Finally, Canute stood and rebuked her servants, claiming that only the Lord who created the heavens and earth is worthy of praise.
Psalm 93 calls us to put our seats by the seashore and recognize that the Lord our God rules the world. Psalm 93 is the beginning of a series of psalms called “Enthronement Psalms.” That is all we know about it. We do not know who wrote it, when, or why. But the message of the psalm is unmistakable: The Lord reigns. The MacArthur Study Bible footnotes: “Nothing is more powerful than the Lord; nothing is more steadfast than his reign; nothing is more sure than his revelation.”
Psalm 93 is a hymn of praise. But it does not fit the typical formula. Psalms of praise typically consist of a personal testimony of divine deliverance. Neither element is found in this psalm. No one but the Lord is mentioned. All the focus is on the Lord, who is directly mentioned five times in this psalm. This psalm is not about us. It is all about God. But this psalm is for our benefit. The truth of God’s reign is our comfort, peace, and strength.
In this hymn of praise, the psalmist sings of three facts about the Lord’s reign over the created world.
The Lord Reigns Gloriously.
Verse 1 begins with a declaration of theological imperialism: “The Lord reigns.” There should be a period after these three words. Better yet, there should be an exclamation point. This is the ultimate truth unbelievers should recognize, and believers should remember: God is King! God’s kingly rule is exclusive. Steve Lawson wrote: “God reigns. Not Satan, not man, not other gods. Not world rulers, nor foreign powers, not circumstances, nor random fate, but God.”
“Reigns” is a present-tense term used to express a perfect-tense truth. It speaks in real-time. Whenever you encounter this announcement, the Lord reigns. God’s rule is not nominal, theoretical, or ceremonial. The Lord’s reign is majestic, sovereign, and eternal.
The Lord is majestic. Verse 1 says, “The Lord reigns; he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed; he has put on strength as his belt.” This is a twofold statement of divine majesty.
God’s robe. Psalm 93 states its theme upfront: “The Lord reigns.” The remainder of the sample affirms and amplifies this glorious truth. The psalmist employs dramatic imagery to assert divine rule. The first pictures God in royal garments: “He is robed in majesty.”
In Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Emperors New Clothes,” con artists posing as weavers offer to make a vain empower a set of clothes the ignorant and incompetent cannot see. When complete, the emperor paraded around in his new clothes. Not wanting to seem foolish, citizens pretended to be in awe. A child finally stated the obvious, “The empower has no clothes.”
The Lord is not an empower with no clothes. He is robed in majesty. Majesty is a divine attribute that is hard to define. James Montgomery Boice wrote: “Majesty is an attribute that links Gods’ holiness and God’s sovereignty.” God is robed in majesty. His nature, character, and works are all majestic.
God’s belt. Verse 1 says, “The Lord is robed; he has put on strength as his belt.” To emphasize the all-encompassing glory of God, the psalmist repeats, “The Lord is robed.” The Lord who wears a robe also wears a belt. The rob declares God reigns in times of peace. The belt declares God reigns in times of war. A robe is what a king wore as he sat in majesty. A belt is what a king word as he stood in strength.
This is military language. As a king prepared for war, he tucked his robe in his belt to give him freedom of action. This divine belt envisions God as armed for battle. God’s belt is “strength,” power to subdue. Psalm 62:11 says, “One God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God.” How is the Lord belted in strength? Verse 1 says he has put it on. This is a self-coronation. No outside force makes God strong. No outside force can hinder his strength. The Lord has put on strength as his belt.
The Lord is sovereign. Charles Spurgeon called Psalm 93, “The Psalm of Omnipotent Sovereignty.” The Lord reigns because he has unimpeachable jurisdiction over all creation. Verse 1 says: “Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.” Note the first word of this sentence: “Yes.” It means truly, certainly, assuredly. It is an undeniable fact that God is in charge. The proof is that “the world is established.”
The word is not a cosmic accident. The world is not the product of a Big Bang. The world is not the result of evolution. The world is established. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. If you do not believe the Bible’s first verse, you do not believe the rest of it. In scripture, divine creation is the basis of divine authority. It is what proves God is God. God is the monarch over all things because God is the maker of all things. Psalm 24:1-2 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and establishes it upon the rivers.”
What does it mean the world is established? According to verse 1, it means “it shall never be moved.” Medieval scholars interpreted this verse to mean the plan was stationary, and the sun orbited around the earth. That is not what the text says or means. This is not a statement of physics. It is a statement of theology.
To say the world shall never be moved means God’s established order will not be overthrown by the sinfulness of man, the elements of nature, or the fluctuation of history. It is fixed. This is not just true of GOd’s natural law. It is also true of GOd’s moral law. Galatians 6:7-9 says, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever a one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” W. Graham Scroggie wrote: “He is calm who believes that God is sovereign.
The Lord is eternal. Gideon prevailed in a battle over the Midianites. After the victory, the men wanted to declare Gideon the king of Israel. In Judges 8:23, Gideon replied, “I will not rule over you and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you.” Sinful people constantly seek new rulers. But the Lord reigns. As God’s world is established, God’s throne is “established from of old” (Psalm 93:2). The Lord is no upstart despot. The Lord is the eternal ruler. Psalm 145:3 says, “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.” God’s kingdom did not begin when Israel became a nation by covenant with God. God’s kingdom will not end based on what happens in Israel, or any other nation, including the United States. God’s kingdom is everlasting.
God’s throne is established from of old because God is eternal. God is uncreated and unending. God is eternal and immutable. Moses prayed, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” God is timeless. God has no time limits. God lives in one eternal now. There is no reason for God to be in a hurry. Time is always on his side.
Warren Wiersbe wrote: “No matter what happens to human rulers on earth, the throne in heaven is safe and secure.” In practical terms, this means God’s rule is inescapable. You cannot wait God out. He has all the time in the world. Run to the cross today! Isaiah 55:6-7 says, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
The Lord Reigns Powerfully.
The President is not introduced. He is presented. No one reads his bio to the waiting audience. It is announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.” When the president walks into the room, comes on stage, or takes the podium, everyone rises in respect. This show of respect should be how all respond when it is announced, “The Lord reigns.” But that is not the case. The world responds to the authority of God with rebellions and reverence. This is the stark contrast between the reality of God’s authority and the response to God’s authority in verses 3-4.
The Testing of Divine Authority. Verse 3 says, “The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring.” “The floods” are not literal floods. All of nature is under divine control. Ultimately, floods, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes are acts of God, not nature. Likewise, the floods are not mythological. In pagan religions, idol gods reigned after prevailing over the mystical powers of the personified waters. That is not what this verse is about.
The floodwaters picture sinful rebellion against divine authority. Consider verse 3 in that sense. The psalmist says the floods have lifted up. The language is volitional. It is not that blowing winds have caused the floodwaters to rise. Of their own accord, the floods have lifted up. With a sense of alarm, anxiety, and urgency, the psalmist says the floods have lifted up three times. Notice the building parallelism: The floods have lifted up. The floods have lifted up their voice. The floods lift up their roaring.
What’s wrong with the world? The floods have lifted up! This explains poverty, racism, violence, injustice, division, and corruption in the world around us. The floods have lifted up. It is a symbol of chaos, violence, and evil. Floods lifting up is simultaneously a statement about the power of sin and the weakness of man. Protests, legislation, science, education, reparations, stimulus packages, or a new president will ultimately fix nothing when the floods are lifted up.
What do you do when the floods are lifted up? Verse 3 says, “The floods are lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. This is not breaking news! This is believing prayer! These are those who say you should speak to the storm. While you are declaring and decreasing, all you will get is wet. Snitch on the floods. Tell God about the floods. Take it to God in prayer.
The Triumph of Divine Authority. Verse 4 responds to verse 3: “Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the lord on high is mighty!” The Lord doe snot prevent the floods from lifting up the voice of their roaring. But the Lord triumphs over the flood as they lift up the voice of their roaring. The floods have lifted up. But the Lord is mightier than the floods. The Lord is mightier than many waters. The Lord is mightier than the waves of the sea.
The floodwaters may be overwhelming to you. God is not overwhelmed. What is a tsunami to us is not a ripple to God. Psalm 29:10 says, “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.” The Lord reigns. God does not merely reign when the sun is shining. The Lord is enthroned over the flood. Alexander Maclaren wrote: “The shriek of the strong, the dash of the breakers, will be hushed when he says Peace, and the highest tops of their spray do not wet, much less shake, his stable throne.”
This verse is not just a statement of the mighty power of God. It is also a statement of the total sufficiency of the Lord Jesus Christ. After a long day of teaching, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us cross over to the other side.” As they sailed across the Sea of Galilee, Jesus went to sleep. As he slept, the winds, waves, and waters attacked the ship. The terrorized disciples woke Jesus and asked if he cared they were about to perish. Jesus arose and rebuked the wind and waves, “Peace be still.” Everything went from calm to chaos. In Mark 4:41, the disciples asked one another, “Who then is this, that event he winds and the sea obey him?” The answer is obvious. Only God is mightier than the winds, waves, and waters. Jesus is more than an example, prophet, or miracle worker. Jesus is the Son of the living God. Jesus is heaven’s wonder, hell’s worry, and humanity’s way out of sin, guilt, shame, death, and hell. Whatever the storm is, the Lord Jesus Christ is mighty to save!
The Lord Reigns Righteously.
In the midst of the Watergate scandal, the embattled president, Richard M. Nixon, held a press conference to defend his innocence. “The American people have a right to know if their president is a crook,” he said. “I am not a crook!” He would soon resign from the presidency in disgrace. As a result, the American people lost trust in public officials. We now assumed all our leaders are cross. But the Lord who reigns gloriously and powerfully also reigns righteously.
God’s Faithful Word. How does God exercise his rule over the earth? It is not by the demonstration of his omnipotent power. It is by the declaration of his faithful word. Human kings reign by what they do. The divine King reigns by what he says. With God, they are the same thing. When God speaks, things happen.
Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
We live in a world of lies, falsehood, half-truths, and deception. Who can you trust? Verse 5 says, “Your decrees are very trustworthy.” “Decrees” is a synonym for scripture. It is God’s testimony. The Hebrew is the word for “Amen.” You should respond to the truth of God’s word by saying, “Amen.” But the truth of God’s word is its own amen.
God’s decrees are not just trustworthy; they are “very trustworthy.” This is superlative language. Trustworthiness does not have qualifications or quantifications. A person is trustworthy or not. God’s word is trustworthy. But it is not enough to say that. The worshiping heart sings God’s decrees are very trustworthy.
You can trust the word of God. Psalm 19:7 says, “The law of the Lord is perfect; reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” The word of God is sufficient to reach the lost, sanctify the believer, govern the church, counsel the troubled, and change the world. Isaiah 40:8 says, ‘The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”
God’s Holy Character. Psalm 93 begins with majesty and ends with holiness. It beings with God’s royal highness. It ends with God’s impeccable holiness. Verse 5 says, “Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O Lord, forever.” This “house” is the heavenly temple, where God dwells, works, and rules. What is the chief characteristic of the hose of the Lord? It is holiness. Holiness befits God’s house. It is suitable adornment for God’s house.
Holiness is the defining attribute of God. It is the quality that sets the Lord apart from all others. Isaiah 6:3 says, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” God is so holy that everything associated with him is considered holy. Because God is holy, holiness befits his house.
This is an important statement about the character of God. The Lord reigns righteously in all that he says. The Lord reigns righteously in all he does. His ways are good. His house is holy. His rule is righteous. You can count on God to do what is right.
There is also a practical implication here for us to consider. That holiness befits God’s house means that GOd’s people should not use unholy means to accomplish holy ends. 1 Peter 1:14-16 says, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.'”
Psalm 93:5 says, “Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O Lord, forevermore.” “Forevermore” applies to both statements in this verse. God’s decrees are very trustworthy forever. Holiness befits God’s house forever. Are you glad the Lord’s reign is not up for reelection every four years? Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forevermore.”