Tag: Psalm 93
Ep.205: Psalm 93: Unchanging God, Immovable Earth.
Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Psalm 93, which we look at today, highlights three immovable foundations of the poet’s faith: God on his throne is eternal, the earth is immovably fixed in place, and God’s law is unchangeable.
For us moderns, these fixed foundations raise questions. The poet imagined a stationary earth, with sun and moon and stars circling around it. Our modern imagination pictures a moving earth circling the sun, part of a solar system moving through space, belonging to one galaxy among millions traversing the universe. The earth is far more moveable than the poet imagined.
The poet also cites God’s law as immutable. To him, God’s law was the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. These books regulated ancient Israel’s diet, clothes, sacrifices, worship, and morality. Our modern understanding of the Old Testament law divides it into obsolete bits we’ve discarded (like animal sacrifices and unclean foods), flexible bits we tweak (like choosing Sunday instead of Saturday for our sabbath), and inflexible bits which we see as mandatory (like most of the Ten Commandments). When we take the Bible literally, we don’t mean we do everything it says. We mean we subscribe to a system of interpretation that carefully selects the bits that apply to us. God’s law in the Bible is not immutable for us in the same way it was for the poet; because we discard bits we think are culturally conditioned and emphasize bits we think are unchanging moral laws. And argue endlessly about how to tell the difference..
The poet’s third immovable foundation is God’s eternal throne. Here we are on firmer ground, because like the poet, we believe God is eternal, that he created heaven and earth, and that he rules them a hidden providence. We have moved beyond the poet’s understanding to a faith in Christ who will one day bring the world under his direct and visible government.
Our father, even though our cosmology and our relationship to the Old Testament law differ from the poet’s, we share his articles of faith.
With him we say,
You reign Lord,
you are robed in majesty and armed with strength.
Your throne was established long ago,
you are from all eternity (vv. 1-2).
The seas have lifted up their voice,
the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea–
the Lord on high is mighty (vv. 3-4).
You, God, are mighty: greater than Carribean hurricanes and cyclones in southeast Asia and tsunamis in the Pacific. In the short history of mankind as we know it, the earth has provided a predictable home for us. The waters of the ocean are held back by land, the rain and sun nurture crops, the climate has been stable. But now, as the globe warms, perhaps due to natural cycles or to human activity, we see the stability of the earth changing. Lands once fruitful are becoming deserts, coastlands flood as oceans rise, weather events are more destructive.
O Lord, are these changes your judgement for our greedy stewardship of the earth? Or in the cycles of nature that you supervise, is it time for the earth to change, causing the death and dislocation of billions as we seek liveable climate and politics and security?
Your statutes, O Lord, stand firm. May our lives be defined by your laws, whatever happens in our government and weather. Help us to welcome strangers instead of building walls and buying guns. Help us preserve life instead of destroying it. Help us build community instead of escaping off the grid. As others turn to lies and selfishness, help us hold fast to the truth.
You are mighty Lord, mightier than floods and winds and changes of time. In our short, uncertain lives, may we be good stewards of everything you have given us. Hold us in your eternal hand, bring us at last to your eternal home.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.