Psalms - Teachers Comments

2024 Quarter 1 Lesson 03 - The Lord Reigns

Teachers Comments
Jan 13 - Jan 19

Key Text: Psalm 93:1

Study Focus: Psalm 8, Psalm 100, Psalm 97, Psalm 75:1−10, Psalm 105:7−10, Galatians 3:26–29, and Psalm 25:10.

This week, we shall examine five aspects of God’s sovereignty in the Psalter. We will see that the Psalms affirm the following:

  1. The foundation of God’s sovereignty is based in the Creation. The Lord is the Maker of the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1) and humanity (Gen. 1:26).

  2. On the basis of this Bible truth, the various psalmists proclaim that YHWH is the ruler over all the world and the nations.

  3. The sovereignty of the Lord is inseparably intertwined in His work as Judge.

  4. As Judge, God intercedes for His people because of His covenant with them.

  5. He is faithful to the rules of this treaty because the Law of His covenant is the foundation of His kingdom.

As we shall see, these five topics are closely intertwined.

Part II: Commentary

God as Creator

Psalm 8 can be divided into two main ideas: God is the Creator (Ps. 8:2–4), and human beings are the crowning achievement of His creation (Ps. 8:5–8). These concepts are flanked at the beginning and at the end of the psalm by the same line, which is known as an inclusio: “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth” (Ps. 8:1, 9, NKJV).

We cannot overlook the importance of the Creation in the teachings of the Scriptures. Isaiah uses the argument of God as Creator to annihilate the validity of a belief in idols (Isa. 40:12–31). Similarly, the psalmist uses the same reasoning to recognize YHWH as Sovereign of heaven and to reject idolatry (Ps. 115:1–8; Ps. 95:3–5, 7; Ps. 96:5). The foundation of God’s kingdom is Creation. That foundation should be the reason for our worship of Him (Ps. 100:3–5). The Creation is also the reason for the Sabbath (Gen. 2:1–3, Exod. 20:8–11), and the seventh day is a remembrance of the power of God. With this background, we better understand why the message of Revelation 14:7 states, “ ‘and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water’ ” (NKJV). The preaching of this message is more relevant than ever at this time, a time in which the enemy has created a relatively newer etiological paradigm of life: evolution.

God as King

God made the universe; therefore, it belongs to Him. Thus, He is its King. “The Lord reigns, . . . Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting” (Ps. 93:1, 2, NKJV).

Psalm 97 summarizes well the message of God’s kingship:

  1. God reigns (Ps. 97:1). Many psalms exalt God as King (Psalm 47, Psalm 93, Psalms 95–99).

  2. Dramatic elements such as clouds, darkness, fire, lightning, the earth, mountains, and the heavens surround God (Ps. 97:2–6). These meteorological phenomena and geological splendors portray the greatness of the King of kings, who inspires our awe and reverence.

  3. The shamefulness of idolatry is condemned in contrast to the superiority of worshiping God (Ps. 97:7).

  4. God’s children praise Him and rejoice in the righteous judgments of His government (Ps. 97:8, 9).

  5. Love for God inspires believers to “hate evil” (Ps. 97:10). The Lord preserves and delivers His people from the hand of the wicked. These reasons are grounds enough to rejoice and give thanks to Him (Ps. 97:11, 12).

God as King is the source of the peace and confidence of His children. “The King’s strength also loves justice; You have established equity; You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob” (Ps. 99:4, NKJV). Because God is the King over all the earth, we should rejoice and “sing praises with understanding” (Ps. 47:7; see also verses 1–6).

God as Judge

The Lord is Judge because He is King. In ancient Israel, the monarch rendered the verdict in trials and judicial matters (see David [2 Sam. 14:1–23]; Solomon [2 Kings 3:16–28]). Thus, the idea of a king-judge was a familiar notion to the people in those days. When they listened to the psalmists sing their melodies about the Lord as Judge, they readily grasped the concept.

Psalm 75 states that God our Judge “will judge uprightly” (Ps. 75:2, NKJV). So, we need not fear His work as Judge, unless we are on the side of evil. “For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with His truth” (Ps. 96:13, NKJV).

The purpose of God’s judgment is to put “down one” (the wicked ones [Ps. 75:4, 5]) and to exalt another (the faithful ones [Ps. 75:1, 2; Ps. 75:7, NKJV]). This same principle is at work in the investigative judgment of Daniel 7: God punishes the little horn (Dan. 7:26) and vindicates His people (Dan. 7:22).

The faithful celebrate God’s judgment (Ps. 75:9), not because they rejoice in the destruction of the wicked but because God is faithful to His promises, and He delivers the innocent (see Rev. 19:2). We find, at the end of Psalm 75, this idea of divine fidelity and deliverance: “ ‘All the horns of the wicked I will also cut off, but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted’ ” (Ps. 75:10, NKJV).

God of the Covenant

In the ancient Near East, a covenant was an agreement between a powerful king and his vassal. This agreement included what was required of the vassal in order to remain under the protection of his suzerain. The Old Testament appropriated this secular trope of the day and applied it to the relationship between the King of heaven and His followers. “In an ancient Near Eastern treaty, the Great King would make two promises to the vassal: first, he would attack the vassal if he rebelled against him; and second, he would come to the defense of any loyal vassal who was set upon.”—Tremper Longman III and Raymond B. Dillard, An Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), p. 260. An understanding of this concept engenders confidence in the believer because through it, he learns that he can lean on the assuredness of God’s protection.

Within this context, YHWH is depicted as a warrior in the Psalter. Psalm 7 is a prayer before battle in which the psalmist asks for God’s intervention in favor of His people (Ps. 7:1, 2). The psalmist also claims God’s protection and asks for the destruction of God’s enemies (Ps. 7:4–9). God is the psalmist’s defense (Ps. 7:10), evoking either the idea of a castle or a shield. God, the Divine Warrior, is portrayed as wearing a sword, a bow, and arrows: “instruments of death” (Ps. 7:12, 13, NKJV). He has prepared a trap for His enemies (Ps. 7:15).

God of the Law

Because God is a righteous Sovereign, “He remembers His covenant forever, the word which He commanded” (Ps. 105:8, NKJV). The basis of the covenant is God’s Law. Therefore, it’s not a coincidence that one of the main themes in the book of Psalms is the commandments of the Lord (see Psalm 1). Actually, the longest psalm and chapter of the Bible, Psalm 119, is focused entirely on the Torah, or Law.

The psalmists’ view of the Law of God differs from the commonly held idea prevailing in many circles today—an idea which holds that the divine Law is a set of rigid regulations one must strictly obey or suffer harsh punish­ment in consequence of violating any of its precepts. Concerning the Law, David states that the testimonies of the Lord convert the soul, making wise the simple; the Law causes the heart to rejoice and enlightens the eyes (Ps. 19:7–10). How many of us can say the same for the codes and laws of our countries? In the covenant relationship, the commandments are guidelines that enlighten our understanding and enable us to enjoy a deep relationship with our Creator, King, and Judge.

The Torah involves the idea of “teaching” more than “stipulations.” That is the reason the Psalter portrays God’s statutes as priceless treasures, which are “more to be desired . . . than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb” (Ps. 19:10, NKJV). To be under God’s covenant means to enjoy a close relationship with the Godhead.

Part III: Life Application

How fascinating to realize the degree to which the five theological themes we have studied this week are linked. This thematic series starts with, and rests on, the assertion of God as Creator. To deny this basic truth is to reject God’s right as Ruler of this world and Sovereign Judge of every human being. Thus, if God were not the Judge of all, then anyone could do whatever he or she thought best. There would not be any eternal law to obey. There wouldn’t be absolutes. Sad to say, we are inundated with this philosophy every day. Even some Christians are falling prey to its pernicious sophistry. For this reason, our lesson this week is very important for our families, our youth, and the members of our church.

Acknowledging the Lord as our Maker will lead us to accept His Lordship in our lives and His right to guide and reprimand us when needed. After all, He is our Judge. Our Creator wants to be in a loving covenant relationship with us. The Bible promises us that obeying Him and walking with Him will be a sweet and comforting experience.

One detail that we touched on lightly in this lesson but didn’t explore in great depth is cultivating an attitude of praise and rejoicing. Ask a volunteer to read aloud the verses below. Alternately, have class members read the psalm in unison. Encourage your students to aspire to the same spiritual life of the psalmist:

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!

Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;

Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.

For the Lord is the great God,

And the great King above all gods (Psalm 95:1–3, NKJV).

More than with requests and complaints, we should fill our prayers to our King and Judge with praise. Also, our daily toil will be more easily borne, and our devotional life made happier, when we are in a covenant relationship with the God of the heavens.