The Reign of God and the Hope of a Believer - Radical

The Reign of God and the Hope of a Believer

In light of the brokenness around us, it can be difficult to see how God could still be in control. When life isn’t going well, we can often struggle to recognize God’s work. In this message on Psalm 93, Matt Mason encourages believers by reminding us to trust that our God is sovereign. He shares five key takeaways about God and His sovereignty.

  1. The one who has ultimate sovereignty gets to be called God.
  2. One of the primary reasons we sing the sovereignty of God and preach the sovereignty of God is because the truth that settles a heart in turmoil is the truth that our God reigns.
  3. God is unfolding a story for his people – a story that moves from the wreckage of the Fall to the restoration of creation.
  4. Jesus Christ, the Son of David, has come and has mounted his throne.
  5. The sovereignty of God is good news.

If you would open your Bibles to two texts: hold your finger in Romans 15, and then turn also to Psalm 93. We’re going to begin in Romans 15 because before we actually study Psalm 93, I want us to do a little exercise in biblical logic. We’re going to use Romans 15 as a guide for our thinking.

You know, in a pragmatic culture, we can be tempted to think that there’s the Bible and theology stuff on this side, and then there’s real life. And these two don’t really meet together. One is abstract and one is concrete, and one really doesn’t relate that much to life. So we can look at a topic like the sovereignty of God and a text like Psalm 93 and say, “Come on, can you give me something that’s going to help me to actually live my life out?”

Well, we want to consider together how Romans 15 really gives us a sense of why the Bible exists the way that it does. Why has God given us 66 books, with all these chapters, all these different stories? What’s the purpose behind it? So I want to read Romans 15:4, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

If you have ever diagramed sentences as a kid coming up in school, you can get to the bottom line of Romans 15:4. What does this mean? It means that the whole purpose of the Bible is for hope. It’s for our encouragement. It’s for the cultivation of hope in God, of faith and trust in God. In other words, if I’m reading a passage on Thursday of this coming week and I come away from that passage without hope, I’m not done with the passage. And the passage isn’t done with me. God has a trajectory for every text in His Word, and we find that out here. “For whatever was written in former day (everything that’s in the book) was written for our instruction, that (for this purpose) through the endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

The sovereign reign of God

So let’s apply that biblical logic to our theme, which is the sovereign reign of God. And it might go something like this. A major premise—I said this was an exercise in biblical logic—a major premise: everything in the Bible is written to give hope to God’s people. That’s straight out of Romans 15:4. Everything written in the Bible is written to give hope to God’s people. Minor premise: the Bible is full of portraits of the sovereign reign of God. You see where the conclusion is going, then. Therefore, the sovereignty of God rightly understood is a hope-giving doctrine, which is why the title for this study is “The Reign of God and the Hope of the Believer.”

In this world, we can never overdose on hope. We need to stock the shelves of hope, because there are going to be moments in our lives where we’re going to feel we have more trouble than we can handle. In those moments we’re going to need to reach onto the shelves of biblical hope, of understanding that comes from God’s Word, and bring that to bear on the circumstances, the trials and seasons of life, that are hard for us to process, and for us to maintain hope in God.

So to a people that need hope—and that’s everyone—no matter what season you’re in in your life right now, you need biblical hope in your life, in your heart, in your mind. And to a people who need hope, the psalmist writes these words in Psalm 93, beginning in verse one:

The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting. The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty! Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.

Psalm 93 reminds us the Lord reigns

The Lord reigns. That’s point number one: the Lord reigns. This psalm just begins stating it as a brute fact, and that has tremendous power. We bring that on board our own hearts and minds. In Scripture, God’s sovereignty is not the stuff of controversy. It’s the stuff of worship. We respond to the sovereign power and reign of God with overflowing praise to God. Paul, after unfolding 11 chapters of the book of Romans and he talks about God’s sovereignty and salvation, and then he just explodes in doxology: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory (in Christ Jesus) forever.”

It leads to doxology—a sighting of the greatness of God, the sovereign reign of God. Think with me for a moment of the bedrock truths of the Bible. Go down. Go way, way down to the bottom shelf of biblical truth, the truths on which everything else in the Bible are built, that they stand on. What do we find when we get to the bottom of the biblical truth concerning God? Maybe “God IS”? So maybe that’s the bottom, right? Hebrews 11: Whoever would come to God must believe—fundamentally, bottom shelf—you must fundamentally believe that He is and is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Moses goes in to rescue the people from Egypt. Moses says, “God, who am I to tell them when they ask for the name of the one who’s underwriting this exodus mission? They’re going to want to know specifically who’s the God who says He can get us out from under the thumb of Pharaoh?” And God says, “Tell them ‘I AM’ has sent you.” So there’s a big, huge idea there. It’s a statement of God’s self-existence. It’s a statement of independence from creation. He’s outside of creation. He’s distinct from creation. He’s holy. He’s above all things. He’s uncreated. He’s self-existing. That’s big. That’s a massive important truth in Scripture.

But the next thing we might say, having established that God is, maybe the next thing to say when we’re moving from the bottom shelf upward, would be to say that God reigns. I think it’s a massively comprehensive statement about the message of the entire Bible. It might go like this: the God who is reigns. And there’s certainly a whole lot more to say, but we’re on to something really big when we talk about how the God who is, is the God who reigns.

John Frame, one of the most prolific authors and maybe one of the brightest theological minds of our time, simplifies the whole message of the Old Testament in this way. It’s very simple. He says, “The Old Testament says this in a sentence: ‘God is the Lord.’” And he said, “Here’s how you very simply state the message of the New Testament: ‘Jesus is Lord.’”

You think about Philippians 2, for example, with its vision of what Christ does in coming—in becoming incarnate, and living His life, and giving Himself for us, and dying on the cross and being obedient to the point of death.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess (what?) that Jesus Christ is Lord.

What a statement! It’s almost like Paul is pointing to the day of Christ’s return, where every knee—every one in heaven, everyone on earth, everyone under the earth—find ourselves in absolute unison. Angels saying, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Every human being who’s ever lived on the planet saying, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Every devil in hell saying, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” It’s almost this worldwide, global, liturgical response to the reign of Jesus, where we all look. We see Him as He is and say, “He is Lord.” And we say it, Paul says, “to the glory of God the Father.”

What a moment! That will be the most reverence-charged moment in human history. And what is it that we’re saying? We’re saying, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” We’re saying, “He reigns!” It’s a massive statement of biblical truth. This was, in a word, Moses’s message to Pharaoh, wasn’t it? “The Lord reigns. And you’ve got His people, and He wants His people back.” So Moses preaches that message in the court of Pharaoh with words, and then he preaches it with gnats, and flies, and changing the rivers and all of these plagues.

And what is God saying in each and every one of these plagues? God is saying to Pharaoh, “You really should just let the people go. I’m not getting tired. They’re my gnats; they’re my flies; that’s my ocean. The breath in the lungs of all the firstborn children—that’s mine, too, because I’m the Lord. And maybe you’ve never heard this, but the Lord reigns. We could do this all day long, Pharaoh. Give them up. They’re my people. They’re coming with me.” It’s a statement of God’s sovereign rule over the world—His governance in all things.

“The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.” The psalm goes on to say more about this reign of God. In verse two: “Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.”

His throne—God’s throne, the symbol of His reign—has been established from of old. In a way, you can see the stability of a kingdom by looking at how long the throne lasts. Look at the stability of the throne, and you’ll get a sense of the stability of the kingdom.

For example, think about this on human terms in the Kingdom of Israel. So the first three kings of the Kingdom of Israel—Saul, right? And then who? And then David, and then Solomon. And each of their reigns were fairly long, 30-40 years a piece. And then everything begins to fall apart under Rehoboam in the aftermath of Solomon. Everything begins to fall apart under Rehoboam. And then look at the years of the reigns of how long the throne is occupied by one king after another. It’s much more volatile.

So it goes like this: 17 years, three years, 41 years, 25 years, eight years, one year, 40 years, 29 years, 52 years, 16, 16, 29, 55, two, 31, three months, 11 years, three months, and another 11 years. In almost every case, those long ones—those big ones that I just mentioned—were all righteous kings by comparison, relatively speaking. They were the more righteous kings of the lot. And so as righteousness was on the throne, the throne endured. It was a mark of the stability of the kingdom. So those righteous kings were guys like Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Amaziah, Uzziah, Hezekiah. Long reigns, stable kingdom. Righteous reigns, stable kingdom.

Proverbs 16:12 says, “It is an abomination for kings to do evil, for the throne is established by righteousness.” That is, if the throne will be established at all, the general principle in Proverbs here is that the throne is established by righteousness. It’s not an absolute rule, but when you look at the Kingdom of Judah, you see that a righteous throne is an enduring throne. And when the psalmist speaks of God’s throne, it ties the endurance of God’s reign to the perfection of God’s righteousness.

So these two are linked together. You want to see the symmetry, kind of these two things running together: absolute righteousness and an absolutely enduring throne. Note the foundation of God’s throne. Psalm 89:14 says this: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s throne.”

Note the reach––the expansiveness––of God’s throne. Psalm 103:19, “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.” The reach of God’s rule is over all. Note the endurance of God’s throne. Psalm 45:6: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness.”

Psalm 93 reminds us of righteousness

It’s a scepter of righteousness. It’s a scepter of uprightness. So you want to see the stability of God’s Kingdom? Walk through the course of history and see how many times the sovereign throne changes hands. How many? Never. It’s what Psalm 93 is telling us. “Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.”

So when the psalmist thinks of the reign of God, he goes back way further than the great displays of God’s power in the exodus. Psalm 93:1 takes us all the way back to the first page of the Bible, where in an act of unrivaled power, God established the world. He spoke the world into existence. Psalm 24 echoes this when it says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and all who dwell in it.”

But even here, it’s not as if God’s throne came with creation. It’s not as if God’s throne is established in Genesis 1. God’s throne is identified with His eternality, which is just a fancy way of saying, “As long as God has been, God has reigned.” As long as God has been, God has reigned.

Just think about it this way: God didn’t become sovereign in Genesis 1. Genesis 1 happened because God was sovereign already. From of old, His throne has been established. And this is why I think theologian R.C. Sproul says that the sovereignty of God is God’s favorite doctrine. If you were God, it’d probably be your favorite doctrine, too, because it means you get to be God. That’s what sovereignty means.

Isaiah 46—it’s this fascinating exchange that God has with His people through the prophet Isaiah. And He’s basically saying, “I know you’re tempted to worship all these other gods. I just want you to ask them a few questions. Can they tell you the future? Do they exert absolute control over everything? Ask their gods. Ask your god if he knows the end from the beginning and if all his purposes are fulfilled. Ask him in a word, is he sovereign? Ask him that.” And he goes on to say, “Because when I call a bird of prey from the east, it doesn’t come from the west.” God says, “When I say that a kingdom’s going to fall on Tuesday morning, it doesn’t fall on Tuesday afternoon. It falls on Tuesday morning, because I’m the Lord and the Lord reigns in sovereignty.”

This is the power of our God, and it leverages tremendous hope for our lives, for our hearts in this world. The one who has ultimate sovereignty—his is the bottom line when we’re talking about the sovereignty of God—the one who has ultimate sovereignty gets to be called “God.” That’s how this thing works. The ones who don’t have ultimate sovereignty get to be called something else—human beings, part of creation, rocks, trees, grass, angels and fallen angels. Or they get to be called false gods.

So that’s about it. It’s God, in distinction from everything else. He alone is sovereign. He alone reigns. I’m not sovereign as often as I try to be. Luck is not sovereign. Mother Nature is not sovereign. The devil is not sovereign. America is not sovereign. God alone is sovereign, which is another way of saying, “God alone is God.”

So the psalmist here proclaims two things, so far just two things. God reigns in majesty and power, and God’s throne is as old as He is.

Psalm 93 says the floods roar

So Psalm 93 presents an eternal God on an eternal throne. And here’s the connection. This is why we began with the connection about talking about hope. God’s people needed to know this because of the second truth that we discovered here, and that is: the floods roar. The Lord reigns, point one, and point two, the floods roar.

Look at verse three with me: “The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring.”

You know, the sovereignty of God is not a challenge for Christians to affirm when all is well in our lives. Isn’t that true? And this psalm does not come to a jubilant gathering of God’s people enjoying a time of peace and success. The Psalms were written and were collected over a massive span of several centuries, probably well over 500 years. These psalms were all gathered together, written, and collected. The order in which we have them right now might have been, many scholars think, compiled and finalized probably around the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. So this is at the end of the Old Testament period, before everything goes dark for 400 years and Jesus arrives on the other side of the testamental divide.

So by the time all these psalms are finalized, King David’s been dead for 500 years. A lot of history has moved underneath us and behind us. So King David came on the scene, and after him Solomon built the temple. Israel’s golden age continued for about another 40 years.

The best era in Israel’s history lasted about 80 years, and that’s about the end of it because Rehoboam came to power and everything unravels. The kingdom is divided north and south—the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the Southern Kingdom of Judah. And then Assyria comes and conquers the Northern Kingdom, carrying them away into exile. Then Babylon eventually comes on the scene a couple hundred years later and conquers both the North and the South.

At that point—just think about this—at that point, this is the first time in Israel’s history where there was no successor on the throne of David. No king in David’s line that was sitting on the throne in Israel. The people were carried off to exile in Babylon. And then, eventually, Persia would be an even bigger fish that would eat that. So they would take over everything.

So you could feel the instability, can’t you? So who’s the one we’re paying taxes to these days? Is it Darius, or Cyrus, or Xerxes, or Hasueras, or Nebuchadnezzar? I mean, who is it? Who’s the king du jour over Israel? Total instability. Where is a rock beneath the feet of God’s people so that they can have hope in their God?

And then under Persian rule. So Cyrus comes to power, and they take over. Cyrus is sort of a kinder, gentler dictator. So he sees that the people have been exiled and kicked out of their land and says, “That’s not a good policy. That’s not a way to make friends. Why don’t you go on back to your homeland? You guys go back. Matter of fact, I’ll help you underwrite the building of your new temple.”

So he sends them back, and they go trickling back into Jerusalem. About 50,000 people trickle back into Jerusalem, but they’re not a recognized nation with their own land. They’re renting space from the Persian Empire. This is not a restoration to the glory days of Israel. These were tumultuous times for God’s people. The floods of Psalm 93 were lifting up their voices in Israel. The floods of confusion and despair and hopelessness had lifted up their voices.

Bear in mind who these people were and what these people believed. God had made promises to them—specific promises to them. God had made promises that had to do with His people living in peace and resting from the endless conflict that had marked so much of their history. And that’s not happening these days. God had made promises that had to do with them having their own land in which they would worship Yahweh, and that’s not happening either.

That helps us read a psalm like Psalm 137, which reads like this. So this was written from the experience of exile in Babylon. Listen to what God’s people write here, what’s written about God’s people and their experience: “By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. On the willows there we hung up our lyres.”

“So the instruments of festivity and celebration, we just hung them up. Just no purpose for that. We’re in Babylon. Hang them up on the trees over there.” “For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’” And they respond with these words: “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”

What’s happening here? The floods had lifted up their voice. The floods have lifted up their roaring. Psalm 74 describes it this way: “Remember your congregation (of pleading with God), which you have purchased of old, which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage! Remember Mount Zion, where you have dwelt. Direct your steps to the perpetual ruins…”

In other words, “God, why don’t You take a walk down Main Street in Jerusalem? Direct Your steps to the perpetual ruins. The enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary. Your foes have roared in the midst of Your meeting place. They set up their own signs for signs.” You know, Old Testament worship centered around the worship in the temple. There were festivals, and songs, and sacrifices, and prayers, and sermons, preaching and teaching. Worship of the Jerusalem temple was loud, and it was energetic and it was reverent. It was filled with a sense of the glory of God. It was the joy of God’s faithful people for centuries to engage in this worship around the temple.

But now they pass the temple. And they’re describing that in Psalm 74. Now they pass the temple where it was, and they say, “It’s just charred ruins.” And what we used to hear, namely the roar of the rejoicing of God’s people, now all we hear are the mocking voices and taunts of the enemies of God. That’s all we hear when we go by the temple where we used to sing God’s praises.”

That’s what it sounds like when the floods lift up their voices. These are challenging days to affirm the sovereignty of God. That’s what it sounds like when the floods are making noise in Israel. And there are a hundred modern equivalents in this room. “I’m still single,” you might say. You might be saying, “I’m lonely, and I thought for sure five years ago by this time I’d be married.” The floods have lifted up their voice. Or, “We got married and have been trying to have children.

And we read these texts and then come to Mother’s Day or Father’s Day services, and it just tears us apart because we’re unable at this point to have children.” Floods lift up their voice. Or, “I’m hounded by depression, and it’s like my mind is stuck in tar. Every new thought that I have sends me further down, toppling into darkness. It’s a downward spiral of melancholy and despair.” Or, “The doctors say there’s nothing more they can do.” Or, “I have an adult child who won’t come into the same room with me.” Or, “It’s official. We’re going to lose a house.” Or, “I was just served divorce papers.” The floods lift up their voice. The floods lift up their roaring.

Have you heard the floods? There will be people in this room. You walked past them. You said, “Hello.” You gave your cordial “hellos” on the way in. Don’t be confused by the smile you saw. There are people all over this room who have a hard time getting any encouragement from the songs we sing, from the things that we say, the things that we pray. They can’t hear any of it, and the reason is the floods are lifting up their voice. The floods are roaring in their ears. This is real.

Every time you hear a prayer request, it comes with a heavy heart and deep burden. You are hearing the floods lifting up their voices. One of the primary reasons when we gather that we sing about the sovereignty of God and preach about the sovereignty of God is because the truth that settles a heart in turmoil is the truth that our God reigns.

The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.

The floods are noisy. They are tumultuous, but that’s not the last word of this psalm. This psalm began with hope, and it’s going to end with hope. It goes on in verse three to say,

The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty! Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.

Psalm 93 Reminds Us the Lord is Mightier

There is one who is mightier than the waves of the sea. The Lord on High is mighty. Now, let me say something again about the structure and the arrangement of these psalms. So they’re collected into these five books, five collections. You might almost think of it as five mini hymnals that make up the big hymnal of the Book of Psalms.

And they’re not arranged chronologically, so you can even see this. Just flip back to Psalm 90, and you see right there, written about Psalm 90, is the word “Book Four.” So you know we have just entered into the fourth mini hymnal of these five hymnals, and they’re not arranged chronologically. One of the ways you can see is just look down at who wrote Psalm 90: “A Prayer of Moses.” We’ve already had prayers of David before this, and we’ll have prayers of David after this. So it’s not arranged sequentially or chronologically. They’re arranged to tell a story, a linear, unfolding story.

Listen to this from Reggie Kidd who comments on the Book of Psalms. He says,

The organization of the Psalter reminds us not only of the Law of Moses, but of a pilgrimage through which God is taking His people. The Psalter helps to tell the story of a journey from suffering to glory, and from lament to praise. One statistical detail tells the tale. In books one through three (so this would be Psalms 1–89), so-called laments out number hymns of praise by little more than 2:1, while in books four and five (Psalms 90–150), the proportion is exactly reversed and amplified. Here, hymns of praise outnumber laments 7:3.

So here we are toward the beginning of Book Four, and God is unfolding this story for His people—a story that moves from the wreckage of the Fall to the restoration of all creation. What begins in anguish with so many psalms and prayers of lament, catastrophe and misery, moves, ultimately, all the way to Psalm 150, where out come the tambourines and the harps and the cymbals, and everything that has breath praises the Lord our God. It’s moving in a direction. It’s a trajectory that follows, really, a trajectory of redemptive history. It’s going to land at this moment where all of God’s people rejoice in His presence forevermore, singing His praises.

The question, though, is: How will God deliver us? There’s no question about the capacity of God in Psalm 93. He reigns. This is not going to be a problem. The question is: How is He going to do it? How will He free us from the troubles––the fears––that vex us in this life? Even more significantly, how will He save us from our most fearsome enemies, namely death and the righteous judgment of God on our sins? How will God accomplish this great salvation? And the answer has everything to do with these trustworthy decrees in verse five.

This psalm leverages comfort in two different ways. In verses one through four, God is saying, in a sense, “Be comforted, people of God, because I’m sovereign.” In verse five, He’s saying, “Be comforted, people of God, because I keep my Word.” I back up the promises that I make. I’m good for everything that I’ve ever said to you.”

God had made promises to His people about a King, about David and about David’s Son—a Forever King who would come from the line of David and who would rule forever. And it’s interesting, because, right after all those laments in books one through three, at the very end, the very last chapter of Book Three, God comes in and He says, “I just want you to know I haven’t forgotten about my promise to David. I know we’ve been singing a lot about things not being right in the world. I just want you to remember I haven’t forgotten the promise that I made to David.”

Look at Psalm 89. Let’s just see it for a second. Psalm 89, beginning in verse 19:

Of old you spoke in a vision to your godly one, and said:

“I have granted help to one who is mighty; I have exalted one chosen from the people. I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him so that my hand shall be established with him;my arm also shall strengthen him. The enemy shall not outwit him; the wicked shall not humble him. I will crush his foes before him and strike down those who hate him. My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him, and in my name shall his horn be exalted. I will set his hand on the sea and his right hand on the rivers. He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’ And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. My steadfast love I will keep for him forever, and my covenant will stand firm for him. I will establish his offspring forever and his throne as the days of the heavens. If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my rules, if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments, then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes, but I will not remove from him my steadfast love or be false to my faithfulness. I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips. Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David. His offspring shall endure forever, his throne as long as the sun before me. Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies.”

And so, Psalm 93 looks backwards into history, pointing to things that God had said—promises that God had made. God was a God of promise throughout the entire Old Testament, constantly making promises.

So think about the history of the Old Testament, just for a moment. God had made promises to Abraham. This is what began the whole relationship God had with His covenant people, Israel. God comes to Abraham: “I am your exceedingly great reward, Abraham. Look up into the stars. Count them. That’s how many children I’m going to give you.” “But we’re barren, and we’re both really old.” And God says, “I’ve made a promise. I’m good for this.”

Right? It began with promises, a covenant relationship with His people. They had to believe over against all the physical evidence that, somehow, contrary to old age and barrenness, God is going to raise up a son from Abraham and Sarah. And then He actually does it! Isaac comes. There he is. He’s being rocked by his mom. Years later, he grows up, gets a little older and what does God say? It’s another test of Abraham’s faith. “Do you believe my promise? Because I’m going to ask you to do something that’s going to blow your mind. I want Isaac back.”

Now, what’s Abraham going to believe? What’s he going to believe as he goes and grabs all the sticks? And he goes and he grabs the knife for the sacrifice. And he goes and he wakes up Isaac. And he says, “We have to go.” And they start walking up this hill. Every step that he’s taking is trust in God. It’s not as though Abraham gets to the top of the hill and raises the knife and pauses and says, “Cue the ram in the thicket.” He’s not just waiting up there for that happen. He doesn’t know there’s a ram in the thicket. He hasn’t been brought in on that understanding.

He raises the knife, and there’s only one reason he would ever do that. Somehow or another, God is going to have to raise this child up after he’s dead. That’s the only reason he would walk up the hill, bump into these people and say, “The boy and I will return.” The only reason is because he believes something great and glorious about God. We have no evidence that he ever entertained the thought that, “You know what? I think God is asking me to sacrifice my son, because He’s going back on His promise. I think He’s changed His mind. He’s actually not going to bless all nations through Isaac. I guess there’s some other plan.”

No, he raised the knife because he knew “God has made a promise, and I guess the way God wants to ratify His promise is He’s going to raise this boy from the dead after this is over.” Trust in God. You know, so often, we can make fun of Abraham and play with all his embarrassing moments. “Oh, remember when he said Sarah was his sister.” No, this guy was a faith ninja. Give him credit. I mean, come on! How could he do this—walk with the boy up the hill trusting God will provide?

You fast forward in Old Testament history to the promises that were made to David look as long gone and likely as anything Abraham ever saw as well. If you endured the exile, you’re carted off…David has been dead for a few hundred years…you’re carted off into Babylonian exile, and then you finally come back with a few hundred people back to Jerusalem. And then you hear somebody say, “I wonder when––you know, now that we’re back––I wonder when somebody’s going to be back on David’s throne.” And you would say, “Wake up! David’s throne is done. It is what it is. It’s gone. It’s over.” But we reserve phrases like “it is what it is” in order to cue people into reality that they don’t want to acknowledge.

That’s exactly what we’d be tempted to do if we came back from the exile and somebody said, “We’re expecting that, maybe, somebody’s going to come back on David’s throne.” It’s not cynicism. It’s just reality. It’s gone. It’s charred ruins. The booth of David has fallen. Didn’t you read the prophets? The booth of David has fallen. It’s over.

God had made promises to His people about a King who would reign in sovereignty and majesty and power. This King, according to Psalm 89, would quiet the noisy floods. He would set His hand on the rivers, His hand on the waters. Isaiah 9:7 says: “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness (how long?) from this time forth and forevermore.”

In other words, just like the test of faith that Abraham had to endure as the patriarch, the same thing is true at this point. Despite all the glaring signs to the contrary that God has abandoned His promise, they had to believe somehow or another a Son of David will one day ascend the throne—not just the throne of Judah; the throne of the universe. Isaiah 9:7 is bigger than Judah. The throne of the universe! The deliverer, David’s long-promised Son, would come. God’s testimonies were trustworthy; His decrees were very trustworthy.

And isn’t it interesting that when we come to the opening of the pages of the New Testament, how does it introduce this Jesus? The very first sentence: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Translation: “God’s decrees are very trustworthy. God never breaks His promises. Even if it takes a long time for them to unfold, He never breaks His promises.”

And Jesus came, and He came to live a perfect life. He came to die as a substitute for sinners in our place on the cross, and He rose from the dead. In His resurrection, God was making a loud statement: “This is the forever King! I told you I wouldn’t lie to David. I told you I would send a conqueror, and there He is! The Son of God is risen from the grave, vindicated. God’s decrees vindicated.”

For the believer, think about this. The resurrection signals that the most fearsome floodwaters—this is such good news!—death and the righteous judgment of God have been subdued by Christ the Lord, conquered by Christ the Lord. Reggie Kidd goes on to say:

So why the effusive outpouring of praise at the end of Psalms? Psalms 146–150, it seems to me, are psalms that look to the end of history. The final cluster of psalms opens out onto a promise that transcends the boundaries of Israel’s history (in other words, none of these things were ever seen in their full form. It must point to a future day). Israel’s journey was a pilgrimage that awaited another chapter, the day when God would, as Psalm 2 promised, raise up Messiah. God’s people drafted the Psalter to sustain themselves in that hope. They knew (I love this) that one day God and they would have the last laugh. Centuries later, the early believers of Acts 4 recognized that when God raised His Son from the dead, the time for laughter had come. (Reggie Kidd, With One Voice, 44)

And when we come to the book of Revelation, when we come to the “forevermore”—that’s the last word of Psalm 93—when we come to the forevermore of Psalm 93:5, God speaks comfort to His storm-tossed people. And notice the basis of that comfort. I’ll read it to you. Revelation 5:5: “Weep no more; Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered.”

The challenge of reading texts like Psalm 93 and the challenge, frankly, of living in this world is this tension—the tension between the throne of God and the sea of chaos, the sea of seemingly uncontrollable evil. The throne representing the sovereign reign of God. The sea in the ancient world representing uncontrolled chaos and evil. And seeing these two next to each other in Psalm 93, verse two, there’s His throne established. In verse three, the floods are lifting up their voice. How can this be? Why are we living in this world with all of the problems that concern us and burden us and weigh us down when God is sovereign and when His throne is established over all things?

Both the throne and the sea appear again in Revelation 4:5–6. But you’ll notice when I read it to you, the sea sounds a little bit different than it sounds in Psalm 93. It’s not this tumultuous; the waves are roaring and making noise. Listen. Revelation 4:5–6:

From the throne (there’s the throne) came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.

What happened? What happens to bring about this massive change in the relationship that we see between the throne of God and the sea of chaos and evil in this world? Here’s what happened: Psalm 89 was fulfilled. God raised up a Son of David, and He set His hand on the sea and conquered it. Mightier than the floods, the Lord on High is mighty.

A hymn was composed in the midst of the Civil War, and, like Psalm 93, it brings together this theme of God’s sovereignty and our trials. It reads as follows:

My life flows on in endless song; Above earth’s lamentation I hear the sweet though far off hymn That hails a new creation: Above all the tumult and the strife I hear the music ringing; It sounds an echo in my soul—How can I keep from singing?

What, though my joys and comforts die? The Lord my Savior liveth; What though the darkness gather round! Songs in the night He giveth: No storm can shake my inmost calm While to that rock I’m clinging; Since Christ is Lord of Heav’n and earth, How can I keep from singing?

He reigns! The Lord reigns. The Lord’s robed. He has put on strength as His belt. The world is established. It shall never be moved. God says to us that there will come a day when the floodwaters of trials and evil and circumstances in our lives will no longer lift up their voice. And we can be assured of this because Jesus Christ, the Son of David, has mounted the throne. All authority, as He said right before He ascended, all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to Him. He is Lord, and, lest His people ever forget, the Lord reigns. Jesus reigns. He is mightier than the waves. He will subdue them. This is our hope.

May this hope—this vision of this exalted, reigning Son of David—may it ground us. May it give us ballast, an anchor for our souls, to hold us when the winds are blowing back and forth—to hold us and to grant us renewed hope. The sovereignty of God, friends, is good news. Believe it. Trust in it. Take hope and encouragement from this.

The Lord Reigns (V1-2)

  • The Bible’s message might be summarized like this: The God who is, reigns.
  •  The one who has ultimate sovereignty gets to be called God.

The Floods Roar (V3)

  • The sovereignty of God is not a challenge for Christians to affirm when all is well.
  • One of the primary reasons we sing the sovereignty of God and preach the sovereignty of God is because the truth that settles a heart in turmoil is the truth that our God reigns.

The Lord is Mightier (V4-5)

  • God is unfolding a story for His people – a story that moves from the wreckage of the Fall to the restoration of creation.

But how will He deliver us?

  • Jesus Christ, the Son of David, has come and has mounted his throne!
  •  All authority in heaven and on earth belongs to him! The Lord Jesus reigns!
  • The sovereignty of God is good news. Believe it. Take hope and encouragement  from it.

Matt Mason is the Senior Pastor at The Church at Brook Hills.


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