Rejoice, the Lord is King
Psalm 99 starts right out with these words: “The Lord Reigns!” This declaration is central to all of the Bible and to our Christian faith. “The Lord reigns” and the words that follow call His children to stand in awe before Him and worship Him. Let’s read this short Psalm.
Psalm 99: (1)“The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble: He sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake. (2) Great is the Lord. In Zion, He is exalted over all the nations. (3) Let us praise your great and awesome Name. He is holy.”
(4) “The King is mighty, He loves justice. You have established fairness. In Jacob, You have done what is just and right. (5) Exalt the Lord our God and worship at His footstool. He is holy!”
(6) “Moses and Aaron were among His priests, Samuel was among those who called on His Name. They called on the Lord and He answered them. (7) He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud. They kept His statutes and the decrees He gave them. (8) O Lord our God, You answered them. You were to Israel a forgiving God, though You punished their misdeeds. (9) Exalt the Lord our God and worship at His holy mountain, for the Lord our God is holy!”
We notice in this Psalm that each paragraph ends with the words, “He is holy!” or “the Lord our God is holy!” His holiness is only one of many marks of His kingship. Our God is a many splendored King. His holiness and His righteousness, His goodness, forgiveness, and His abundant love are all important marks of His divine kingship!
God is the all-powerful Creator of the universe, which is another mark of His kingship. And He is the One who rules over chaos. For ancient people, chaos among the nations or people was symbolized by the unruly waves of the sea. Much of God’s work in creation dealt with calming or taming of the seas. The Lord rules over the chaotic waters! Jesus can calm the storms. (Matthew 8:23-27) His power and control are more marks of His divine kingship!
The image of God as king also supports His image as a Protector, Shepherd and Warrior. Throughout the Bible God is referred to as a “Warrior” because He fights against evil and because He protects His people against their enemies. (Revelations 17:14, Ephesians 6:11-17, 1 Timothy 1:18, 2 Timothy 2:3-4, James 4:1-2, Exodus 15:3)
The second part of Psalm 99 (verses 4-5) declares that the Lord “loves justice”. Scripture declares that “righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.” (Psalm 97:2b) Other Psalms, (Psalm 96:13 and 98:9) speak about God’s judgment over the whole world. Psalm 99 describes God as the ruler over all the nations” (verse 2)
All through the Bible, God is spoken of as our Judge. This is another mark of His kingship. As Judge, final judgment and punishment and the structure of the universe are left to God. Because we humans are sinful and often unable to judge with fairness, it is good news that our Judge and King who is in charge of judgment will be merciful, loving, forgiving (Psalm 99:8) and fair. If we are followers of Christ we will be covered with His righteousness and we will inherit eternal life. (John 3:16)
We humans will always be ruled by something. As Christians, we believe, as Psalm 99 declares, that God is our ruler and king as well as our heavenly Father. But if we do not believe in God as our ruler and king then we may allow the values of the culture or the delusions about our human wisdom to rule us instead. If we do not accept God as our ruler, then we will be ruled by something else! And it won’t be good. Scripture says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
Some folks will argue that if the kingdom of God exists and if God is king, then we wouldn’t be having wars, shootings, terrorist attacks, sickness, child abuse, etc. There are times when the presence of the kingdom of God is hard to discern in this troubled world. In the Bible, the kingdom of God is compared to the tiny mustard seed. (Mark 4:31) And to yeast hidden in dough. (Matthew 13:33) And to buried treasure in a field. ((Matthew 13:44)
Not all of the kingdom of God has yet been revealed. Some parts are “now” and others are “not yet.” Scripture says: “We see through a glass darkly, but then face to face, now we know in part but then we shall know even as we are known. “ (1 Corinthians 13:12) The kingdom in part is our present reality. But the kingdom complete will be our future reality.
The problems and tragedies of today are not the last word. We humans are still in charge of much that happens in our world. Scripture says that God gave Adam and Eve (mankind) dominion (We can rule) over the earth. (Genesis 1:26-29, and Chapter 2) But the Day will come when Christ returns and the world will be ruled by God! One verse of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” is taken from Revelation 11:15 and declares: “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.”.
We Christians believe that the kingdom of God will come. Scripture says: “Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill made low, and the rough places plain.” (Isaiah 40:4) The belief in heaven where God rules and we are in Christ, gives us blessed hope and that belief changes and purifies us according to Scripture. (1 John 3:2-3) We are delving into mysteries we don’t understand here. Our faith is a holy mystery.
Not to believe or have the hope of this future kingdom of heaven leads us to despair and hopelessness. We Christians wait for the fullness of God’s kingdom. Scripture says “He (Christ) must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:25-26) We Christians can join with the writer of Psalm 99 and many other Psalms and shout triumphantly, “The Lord Reigns”.
Many of the ideas in this blog were taken from Jerome F.D. Creech’s booklet “Psalms” Interpretation Bible Studies.