Theme: God’s Power in Creation and History
This week’s lessons teach us about God’s faithfulness, promised in his Word and demonstrated in our own experience of his covenant love.
Scripture: Psalm 89:1-37
Having spoken of the faithfulness of God in heaven and of that strength which is one of its characteristics, the psalmist next moves to earth where the power of God is particularly evident (vv. 9-13). Faithfulness itself is not mentioned here, since the writer seems to be concentrating on the power of God. Why? The reason becomes clear in the next stanza. It is the power of God that enables God to be effective in his faithfulness to his people. He is effectively faithful because he is his people’s “shield” and sure defense against enemies (see v. 18).
There seem to be two spheres in which the writer praises God’s power. First, he praises God’s power in creation, particularly the manner in which he governs it providentially. He thinks of heaven and earth, the world, even the north and the south (vv. 11, 12). The two mountains, Tabor and Hermon, are probably selected because they stand to the east and west of the Jordan River. Tabor is not very high (1,843 feet). Hermon is much more imposing (9,100 feet). They are in the middle of the land.
The sea attracts special attention, perhaps because it is so vast and so uncontrollable by man. Storms at sea are terrifying. But “when its waves mount up, you still them” (v. 9). The inspired writer may not have had any specific stilling in mind when he wrote this, but we can hardly read it without thinking of how Jesus stilled the waves on the Sea of Galilee. The disciples and Jesus were at sea in a small boat. Jesus was sleeping, and while he was sleeping a storm arose that was so fierce the disciples, many of whom were seasoned fishermen, were afraid they were going to perish. They woke Jesus up crying, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
Jesus rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind died down and it was completely calm. The disciples were so impressed that they were more terrified now of Jesus and his power than they had been by the storm. The story ends by them asking one another, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him” (Mark 4:35-41)! Who indeed but the Lord of glory! Who but God!
The second sphere in which the writer praises God’s power is his rule over the events of history. This is a small reference, but an important one. It concerns “Rahab,” a name used for Egypt (see Psalm 87:4), and the historical events in view are the miracles of God in delivering the Jews from their slavery by that country. For our part, we can look back to the power of God in delivering us from our slavery to sin. Indeed, these two events are parallel, which is why Derek Kidner calls the Exodus, a victory “as central to the Old Testament as Calvary to the New.”1
1Derek Kidner, Psalms 73-150: A Commentary on Books III-V of the Psalms (Leicester, England, and Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1975), p. 321.
What enables God’s faithfulness to be effective on earth?
In what sense is God our shield and defender?
What are the two spheres in which the psalmist praises God?
How does the psalmist describe God’s power?
What two historic events are parallel?
Reflection: What evidences of God’s power and faithfulness do you see in his creation? Read Romans 1:18-23. How do people today suppress the truth of God’s self-revelation in creation?