Theme: God’s Word and Holiness
In this week’s lessons we see what it means for God to reign over all.
Scripture: Psalm 93:1-5
One of the greatest things about the Bible is its unexpected character, for often just when we think things are coming to an end we suddenly come to something that is quite fresh and that stretches our thinking a bit further than we had expected to go. That is the case with verse 5, which is the final stanza of the psalm. What we might have expected is an encouragement to the believer in God to stand firm, or perhaps a repeated word of praise to God as king. Instead we find two more unanticipated characteristics of God’s kingly rule: that it is a kingdom of law and that it is a kingdom of holiness or justice.
1. A rule of law. Thus far we have been thinking of the theocratic rule of God as being a rule of power. But God’s rule is not a rule of power alone. The Greek word for power is kratos, which is where the words democracy (“power in the hands of the people”) and theocracy (“power in the hands of God”) come from. It is also a rule of law, which is what the important word “statutes” in verse 5 refers to. God’s statutes are his decrees, above all his laws, as in Psalm 119:2: “Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.”1
What this means is that God rules his people by his Word. It is true that he rules over the world and history. But that is a sovereign rule, independent of and somewhat removed from us or what we do. By reminding us that the statutes of God “stand firm,” like the world and even the throne of God itself, the psalmist is saying that those of us who profess to know God and confess him as our God must know and obey his statutes, too—if we would be actually ruled by him.
Let me put it in other terms by asking: How does the Lord Jesus Christ rule his church? He does it by guiding its destiny sovereignly, of course. But the way he specifically rules his people within his church is by the teaching of the Scriptures, by the Bible. It is there that we learn what he would have us do and what he would have us be.
There is an important general sovereignty possessed by Jesus. Revelation says, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). There is also a specific rule of Jesus over his people, which has to do with his direct commandments for us. When the Apostle Paul met Jesus Christ on the way to Damascus the first thing that happened after he discovered that Jesus was the one he had been persecuting, was that Jesus told him what to do: “Get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you” (Acts 26:16). We cannot claim to be ruled by Jesus Christ unless we know what he has told us to do in the Bible and are doing it.
2. A rule of justice. There are two obvious ways that human rule can be perverted, and often has been. It can be by the whim of those in power and not by law. Or even if it is by law, it can be by unjust laws that exist only to legitimize the oppression of the weak by those more powerful. God is guilty of neither of those perversions. First, his rule is by law, as I have indicated. Second, it is according to holiness or justice, for the law of God is perfectly upright: “holiness adorns your house for endless days, O LORD” (v. 5).
Everything associated with God is holy, from which it follows that we must be holy too. If we are not holy, how can we adorn the house of God? We cannot! We do the very opposite. We dishonor it—and the God we profess to serve. If we strive to live holy lives, as we must, then we honor God and prove that he is indeed ruling us as his holy people. Peter wrote, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet. 2:9).
1Also many other times throughout that psalm (see vv. 14, 22, 24, 31, 36, 46, 59, 79, 88, 95, 99, 111, 119, 125, 129, 138, 144, 146, 152, 157, 167, 168).
What is unexpected about verse 5?
How does God rule his people?
What does rule of law mean? What is our responsibility in the rule of law?
How can human rule be distorted? Contrast this with God’s rule.
According to 1 Peter 2:9, what is our role as the created ones?
Reflection: Are you ruled by Jesus Christ? What evidences do you have? Ask God to bend your will to his and to make you holy.
Key Point: We cannot claim to be ruled by Jesus Christ unless we know what he has told us to do in the Bible and are doing it.
For Further Study: The Psalms is a rich collection describing the Lord in the greatness of his character. James Boice’s collection of sermons is available as a three-volume paperback set. Order yours today and receive 25% off.