Do me a favor and please read Psalm 93.
Our psalm today is one of the 6 “enthronement psalms” (47, 93, 96, 97, 98, 99) that are simple in their writings. Their words are not of lament or sorrow. Their reflections are not of despair nor full of chaotic scenery. They are praise-worthy. They are hopeful and declarative in the God who is over all and in all things. These psalms are meant to be used in worship and to ENCOURAGE worship – and yet they reflect a future as well.
As I look at our psalm today I’m struck by its simplicity and yet the grandeur as well. The psalmist declares that the Lord reigns and is mighty and above all things – and because of his might and reign the seas sing unto him. And if you thought the seas were strong and powerful wait till you see God! And there are two things with the “seas” that I think we can draw out. First, the power.
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and on a stormy day you can see just how powerful the ocean is. Take a walk down the ocean shore and you can see just how much erosion the waves cause upon the rocks. I’ve watched surfers in Hawaii and California surfing and one doesn’t have to watch too long before you see the power of the strength toss a person around like a rag-doll. And if you’ve never seen the ocean or the power of the sea take a second and do a google search on its destructive power. The images are breathtaking. And that’s not even talking about hurricanes! Simply put, the sea, the oceans, even large lakes are strong, relentless, and unbiased. If they are foaming, frothing, and building up strength – you’d best be somewhere else.
But outside of the “power” and “strength” of the sea there was this belief that the sea, in its chaoticness and strength, was a place of fear. This is where massive beasts of epic proportions lived. This is where sailors would meet their doom and yet this is where fish came and food was provided as well. There was a fear of this unknown because it could go from a calm glass to massive restless and uncontrolled danger just like that. The ancient Hebrews were land people and while they ventured into the sea for some things…it simply wasn’t a place they were comfortable being.
When we take these two sea-feelings we understand why the psalmist would add the sea in this short psalm of praise. And this also helps us understand Mark 4:35-41 a little bit more and why the disciples were blown away when Jesus speaks to the rage storm and ask each other, “Who is this that even the wind and the waves obey him!” To them there was only 1 person who could speak and control this mysterious, powerful, and fearful thing: God. And there was only one person the sea would lift up and bow to: God.
I think for many of us we read scripture and we simply don’t quite understand some of it. The image of a powerful sea that is unknown and fearful just doesn’t work for us. To us it’s just the sea. We know that it’s the wind that builds up and throws the waters into its chaotic frenzy. We know that there are temperatures and vapor and cooling that causes hurricanes and destruction – it’s not the sea itself. And so how do we relate? Well, I’m not sure we HAVE to relate per say. I think we’re INVITED to relate and find our OWN praise.
Think of the most powerful thing you can think of…now put THAT into perspective with the One who created it. For the psalmist it was the seas, but for you it could be an erupting volcano, or an F5 tornado. Regardless of where we land the truth of it remains: God created it and because he is creator he is even stronger. It is then in this understanding of the things that we find “awe” and power and fear in that we understand the majestic beauty and power of God. That is, it’s in the tangible things we know and see that we begin to understand the power of God. And it is in those things that we also begin to understand that God, who is stronger and mightier than those, is “enthroned” above them too.
For myself I land somewhere else than I think the psalmist intends, and that’s OK. While I affirm the strength and beauty and majestic power of God and his ability to control those things that I fear and awe (for all those reasons) – I simply am floored that he created me and you. To go from such strength and power to an intimate care and love for you and I…THAT blows me away. THAT leads me to want to praise God.
My question to you is this: What “power and strength” do you think about when you try to put God’s power and strength into perspective? Is it the sea or something else?