A Reflection on Psalm 93 by Canon Rob,
November 26th Sunday next before Advent
Unlike other Reflections, today’s is about the psalm set for Evensong, as we have already reflected upon the one set for the morning Eucharist. That was in March this year and the psalm was 95 with it’s opening words, “O come, let us sing to the Lord…” It was a call to worship and this evening’s psalm is just as joyful, celebrating the Kingship of God. As verse 1 puts it, “The Lord is king and has put on glorious apparel; the Lord has put on his glory and girded himself with strength.” Walter Brueggemann in his lovely book, “Praying the Psalms,” says of Psalm 93 and other psalms of celebration, “Those who pray this kind of Psalm will want not just to reflect on a general notion of well-being but to work with the concrete image of king, the gracious ruler who does manage well, provide for, protect the weak, and intervene for the helpless.” Verse 2 reminds us that it is God, “who has made the whole world so sure that it cannot be moved.” God, the Lord, is the Creator of all. However, He is not just the Creator, He is the One who subdues the chaos caused by floods. “Mightier than the thunder of many waters,….the Lord on high is mightier.” [See verses 4 and 5] As we reflect on this, we might want to take the words literally, but remember that the psalms are poetry and subjective. The author is telling a truth through metaphor and here his message is one of absolute reassurance, conveyed by the translation of verse 5 in the words on the picture here: “Mightier than the waves of the sea is His Love for you.” Even, and especially, in the midst of suffering, we can be sure that God loves us and is with us.
To put this in context, some commentators believe that Psalm 93 was written fairly soon after the Israelites returned from Exile in Babylon in 538 BC. If so, it marked a new beginning for God’s people. There are other psalms with a similar message. See, e.g., Psalms 47, 97 and 99. They are referred to as “royal psalms” or “enthronement psalms” and may have been used during the New Year Festivals in the autumn. They all recognise and celebrate the Kingship of God, who is Lord of all and who has existed from the beginning. So, in verse 3 we read, “Your throne has been established from of old; you are from everlasting.” God, the Lord and Creator of all, has chosen a people to be His own, to form a community under His Divine care and rule. But human kings were held in great honour too, especially King David. In the words of “The Oxford Bible Commentary,” The king was: “God’s anointed, as sacrosanct and the representative of the nation, the welfare of which depends upon his righteousness.” Today we celebrate Christ the King! He is the King of kings upon whom we can totally depend for he is Righteous.
This short psalm ends with words about God’s rule and laws. “Your testimonies are very sure; holiness adorns your house, O Lord, for ever.” [Verse 6] God is Holy and in the hymn book we use at St. Dunstan’s Church, one of the hymns we sing makes that very clear: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, holy is the Lord God, almighty.” [285 in “Complete Anglican Hymns Old & New.”] In the Old Testament, including the Book of Psalms, that holiness implies separateness. God is ‘other’ who lives in heaven apart from we who live on the earth. The Holy God chooses when He intervenes in our lives, as He did, for example, through the leadership of Moses at the Exodus. Then, as they journeyed to the land which He promised them, God intervened again by giving the People His testimonies, or moral laws, known as the Ten Commandments. Being chosen by God, they are very privileged but, as always, that comes with great responsibility which is fulfilled if and when they obey His laws.
You have established your throne, O Lord, above the chaos of this world:
may your truth, which is from everlasting, be ours for ever and ever; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
[Prayer at the end of Psalm 93 in Common Worship, Daily Prayer]