Enthroned over the Flood

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“The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.  May the LORD give strength to his people!  May the LORD bless his people with peace!” (Psalm 29:10-11, ESV).

            From beginning to end, Psalm 29 declares the majesty, supremacy, and awesome power of God.  After beginning with the call to proclaim His glory (vv.1-2), the heart of the psalm praises the power of God’s voice (vv.3-9), which echoes through creation.  These last verses (vv.10-11) settle on God’s reign, even over the wild chaos of the world.  This focus on God enthroned leads to the triumphant petition that He would strengthen and bless His people.

            When we see the swirling chaos of the floods of life, we can take confidence in our God, who “sits enthroned over the flood”.  The LORD is King!  His people can trust Him and keep joyful hope in every circumstance.  Make this your prayer, in troubles and uncertainty: may God give us strength, and pour out upon us the blessing of His peace.  He is able.  He is King.

The Majesty of the Almighty

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“Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.  Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness” (Psalm 29:1-2, ESV).

            Psalm 29 begins with this call to worship, summoning the angels (and, by implication, all of God’s servants) to declare the majesty and might, the sheer glory of God.  The psalm goes on from here to declare the power of God’s voice, or word, and the sovereignty of His reign.  It is a song of exaltation to the Almighty.            

God is worthy of all worship and praise.  When we face the fears of this world, when we must bear the burdens of this life, we can find comfort and strength in turning our eyes to the glory of God.  Our God is mightier than any who can oppose us, and more splendid and majestic than anything this world can offer.  Fix your eyes on the glory of God, and walk with Him today.

The Saving Refuge

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“The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed” (Psalm 28:8, ESV).

            The psalmist repeats the meditation of the previous verse, generalizing it to all the people of God.  This proclamation precedes a final exuberant petition that God would, indeed, be the deliverer of His people (v.9).  The images in this verse are “strength” and “refuge”, both of which signify protection.  God is a champion and a fortress for His people.

            Those who belong to Jesus Christ have an invincible refuge and strength.  If God is our protector, there is nothing we need to fear.  Have you taken refuge in your Savior with the troubles you are facing today?  Take shelter in Him, and lean upon His Almighty strength.

Exult in His Strength

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“The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him” (Psalm 28:7, ESV).

            David calls out to God, confident that He will be heard because of God’s steadfast love.  Yet again we read words of confidence coming at the end of a petitionary passage.  For the first five verses of this psalm, David has cried out to God for deliverance and for judgment upon the wicked.  But at length he turns to assurance, and blesses God, who hears his pleas (v.6).  God is his protection, and he knows that in the Lord he will find help; praise results (v.7).            

Do we take refuge in God, and find the comfort and delight of those who know His deliverance?  God’s strength is a great comfort to His people, for He is their strength and protection against harm and trouble.  Trusting in Him, we will be able to sing songs of grateful praise, even in the midst of danger.  The thanks of the faithful begins with expectation, and rejoicing in God our Deliverer.

Christus Victor

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A few days ago, among the items in an assorted internet news smorgasbord came several headlines to the effect that the president had garnered anger by saying that people shouldn’t fear the coronavirus.  “‘Don’t Be Afraid of COVID,’ Trump Says, Undermining Public Health Messages”, ran the headline from the New York Times.  Surely they don’t mean to say that the public health message is that we should be afraid?  Or do they?

            The president’s tweet didn’t just say not to be afraid of COVID.  He also talked about how great he was feeling, and touted the drugs for treating the coronavirus developed under his presidency.  I won’t dispute that his message suggested COVID-19 was not a serious concern, and that such a message is both frustrating for health workers and painful to those who have suffered and lost because of the pandemic.  Human suffering should not be treated lightly.  When one man has a mild case of the coronavirus, or makes a recovery, it is an occasion for gratitude, not a time to neglect the awful consequences this virus has had for so many.

            But, in terms of the news cycle, anger seemed directly tied to the president’s urge that people not fear the coronavirus.  That, to judge from the news, was an outrageous suggestion.  The implication is that you are only taking COVID-19 seriously if you fear it, and anything less is outrageous.

            I am a cautious man, myself.  I take precautions; in some cases, I am perhaps over-cautious.  Yet I think it is mistaken to put forth fear as a virtue, or to promote a message of fear.  Fear of death may cow people, but it does not make us resilient or noble.  It is good to be wise and prudent.  There is nothing commendable about foolhardiness; but nor is fear a virtue.  For those who see in some dimensions of the various state governments’ coronavirus response an obtrusive overreach, and in the media a political dimension to the coronavirus coverage, this appeal to fear is certainly corroborative.  Another possibility is that they simply present the story as they understand it: this is a fearful time, and it is reckless and foolish to not be afraid.

            Christians have a different perspective.  We recognize that this life is short, and prolonging it as long as possible is not the highest good.  More importantly, we have a theologically informed and redemptively transformed perspective on death.  Death is a consequence of sin, and of itself is indeed a terrible thing; but it has been de-clawed by the atoning death and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Death is the gateway to one’s eternal destiny.  For those who don’t know Jesus, death should be a terrible and stark reminder that NOW is the time to repent and be saved.  But, for those who do know Jesus, death is the passage to the presence of their Savior. 

For the Christian, death holds no terror; this enemy has been disarmed, and pressed into service to carry the people of God to their rest with their Lord until the day of resurrection.  Our Lord has conquered death.  As Jesus said to John, when the apostle was confronted with His awesome majesty, “Do not be afraid.  I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!  And I hold the keys of death and Hades” (Revelation 1:17-18, NIV).

Wait for the Lord

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“Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”

(Psalm 27:14, ESV).

            David ends Psalm 27 with an exhortation that others should patiently look to God for deliverance.  He has trusted in the Lord, and found Him a compassionate deliverer.  The psalmist’s own experience of God’s mighty power and gracious deliverance become the basis not only for his own faithful expectation (v.13), but for an exhortation that others entrust themselves to God and wait upon Him (v.14).

            “Wait for the LORD.”  Those are hard words for us, sometimes; when we face danger or uncertainty, waiting can be a trial of its own.  But waiting for the Lord to act is an exercise in faith; God is in control, even when life seems out of control.  God is able, God is wise, and we are called to wait upon Him.  Take heart, have hope and courage: wait for the Lord.

A Merciful Father

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“For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in” (Psalm 27:10).

            The psalmist David’s confident exultation from verse 5 continued in the joyful exuberance of verse 6, but turned in the next few verses to supplication.  He pleaded with God for a merciful answer to his cries (v.7), citing that he seeks the Lord (v.8), and imploring God to receive him (v.9).  Though he pleads, there is still a sense of certain hope based on the character of God.  God is faithful and trustworthy, full of mercy and compassion.  Thus the comparison in verse 10, that even if a father and mother forsake their child, the Lord mercifully receives those who call out to Him.            

God is faithful to His children, and full of compassion and love.  God mercifully receives all those who cry out to Him.  He is the standard of fatherly love, next to which even the best of human parents fall short.  Turn to God when you are in trouble.  Return to God when you fall into temptation.  Trust in Jesus Christ, and look to your heavenly Father to lift you up in His mercy and grace.