Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
I’ve occasionally heard preachers complain that people get more excited at a hockey or football game than they do about God and church and salvation. That’s me. I like a good football game where my team takes it on the nose and hits the dirt and stays in the cellar where they belong, a game where strategy and raw strength and luck bring a win-lose outcome while I munch potato chips. God’s reign as king and his plan to overcome evil is exciting in principle, but I don’t expect any shout-worthy action before I finish my chips. When we look around, it’s not evident that God is King–because evil seems ever-successful and unconquerable. God’s action on the field often seems weak and uninspired.
In contrast to my reticence to cheer loudly in God’s game, Psalm 47 offers a robust celebration of his kingship:
Clap your hands, all you nations,
Shout to God with cries of joy,
For the Lord most High is awesome,
A great king over all the earth (vv. 1-2).
Some scholars suggest that ancient Israel staged a yearly temple celebration to reenact God ascending to his throne and taking up the kingship of the earth. This would have been accompanied by the shouts and cheers and trumpets and songs described in the psalm, as the people paraded up to the temple and celebrated God’s sovereignty. A modern equivalent might be a Christmas pageant that reenacts Christ’s birth.
O God, with Psalm 47, we celebrate you as king of the earth.
You created this glorious and beautiful and dangerous universe in which we live. You did not make us a temporary and meaningless life form in a cold, impersonal world. You made us in your image, you loved us, you appointed us stewards of a planet that supplies our food and recreation and beauty and community.
When the human race abandoned your ways, you raised up the nation of Israel to showcase the goodness of a society where you were king, a society based on your laws, dependent on your lovingkindness, implementing your justice and freedom for all.
When Israel went astray, you sent them a hard and bitter exile, and then you sent the prophet Jesus to point all people back to you.
In our time, your reign is hidden. No nation showcases your rule; the church which professes your kingship is divided and weak. Two billion people call themselves Christians. We have doubts about many of them, but as Paul said, “What does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice” (Phil. 1:17-18).
We rejoice with Paul as the world Christian community serves your kingdom–celebrating communion, feeding the hungry, opposing injustice, speaking truth to power, and preaching Christ’s name.
We rejoice with the poet that:
You reign over the nations.
The kings of the earth belong to you,
You are greatly exalted (vv. 8-9).
Donald Trump, Vladmir Putin, Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi–all are your subjects. You hold them on a leash, you monitor their coming and going, their living and dying. With Handel’s “Messiah” we sing,
The kingdoms of this world
have become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ,
and he will reign forever and ever.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.