George Booker
Psalms Studies - Book 4

Psalm 93

1. Structure

        1,2.                 The majesty of the Lord
        3.                 Great waters (the nations) seek to rival Him
        4,5.                 The Lord’s permanent supremacy

2. Features

Each of Psalms 93, 97, and 99 begins with “The Lord reigneth” (and see also 96:10), and ends with “holiness”. Each of these psalms is preceded by “Sing a new song” (92:1; 96:1; 98:1).
There are several verbal contacts with the Song of Moses (Exod. 15:1,4,10).

3. Historical setting

For so short a psalm a surprising number of details make an easy link with the days of Hezekiah. Even the allusions to the Song of Moses at the Red Sea (Exod. 15) are appropriate as recalling the close resemblances between that first Passover deliverance and the Passover deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrians. (Psalm 93 was appointed by the Jews for use in the Temple on Passover.)

The Lord reigneth. Compare Isa. 52:7, which primarily concerns the salvation of God coming to Jerusalem in Isaiah’s day. So also Isa. 24:23 similarly. Even more impressive is Psa. 47:7,8, since Psalms 46-48 are unquestionably “Sennacherib” psalms.

He is clothed with majesty, suggesting Isa. 6:1: “His train filled the temple.”

The Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself. This is the language of a mighty man preparing himself for battle.

The world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved. Contrast Psa. 82:5 (from the same period). Hezekiah’s world had apparently crumbled into ruin, but now with God’s authority asserted, all is well.
The floods... Once again, this is Isaiah language for the Assyrian army (8:7,8; 17:12,13; 27:1). Nachar — three times in this verse — means a great river, one which can overflow its banks.

The floods have lifted up their voice. A figurative allusion to the boastful Assyrian propaganda in Isaiah 36 and 37.
The Lord on high is mightier than the noise (thunder: NIV, RSV) of many waters (Psa 89:9). This represents the contest which went on between the gods of Assyria and the God of Israel: Isa. 36:18-20; 38:16,17,20.
Thy testimonies are very sure. More exactly, made sure, verified. Isaiah’s repeated declarations of a divine salvation were fully con-firmed by experience: 8:2 (s.w.); 19:20; 43:9,10; 44:8,9; 55:4.

For ever is, literally, to lengthening of days — as happened to Hezekiah.

4. Messiah

The Messianic intent of this psalm is easy to see. But, first, a note about the remarkable use Jesus made of it in his ministry.

Consider the context of the feeding of the 5,000. The multitude sought to make Jesus king (John 6:15), but he refused. This brought an acute crisis in the loyalty of the Twelve. So that night Jesus came to them, walking on the stormy waters (6:18,19) — thus asserting his own power to fulfill Psa. 65:7; 77:19; and 93:3,4. But the latter context is: “The Lord is King” (v. 1). And so Peter was the first to respond to this slowly dawning, but as yet unspoken, truth — that Jesus was the Holy One, the Son of the living God (John 6:69, RV; Matt. 14:28).

Clothed and girded suggest some official coronation ceremony. While God has always reigned in the general sense, this psalm suggests a formal undertaking of something new: i.e., the Kingdom of God upon earth once again! And certainly it will be a new undertaking for Christ!
Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting. This is the language of 2 Sam. 7:16 (hence the phrase of old in v. 2).

The world (tebel: 90:2, s.w.)... is stablished. The stability of the world is not to be presumed upon; it has — so to speak — no autonomous existence: it is established only because God’s throne is established (v. 2; cp. 104:1-5).
The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters. This, with v. 1, is quoted in Rev. 19:6 — at the beginning of Messiah’s reign.
Thy testimonies. Jesus is the Word of God (Rev. 19:13).

Very sure is the same as the sure mercies of David (Isa. 55:3; cp. v. 1 above).

Holiness becometh (i.e., befits: RSV; adorns: NIV) thine house, O Lord. Thus Isa. 6:3 is brought to fruition. When the Lord truly reigns (v. 1), then all will be holiness to Him (v. 5; Zech. 14:20,21; cp. Psa. 97:12; 99:9). But it is also true that, even now, God’s spiritual House is — or should be — holy (1 Cor. 3:17).

For ever. Consider Psa. 21:4; 23:6; 91:16.

5. Other details

The Lord reigneth. Even when all appears to be chaos (vv. 3,4), God is in control — in one’s personal life, as well as in the world of nations.
Strength and (e)stablished (90:17; 96:10) are allusions to “Boaz” (Strength) and “Jachin” (Established), the great brazen pillars of the temple (1 Kings 7:21). The pillars, in turn, are emblematic of those who are firmly grounded “in Christ” (Gal. 2:9; Rev. 3:12).
The floods. Does this detail, being understood of nations, help with Ezek. 1:24; 43:2 and Rev. 1:15; 14:2? Or does it refer to the mighty beatings of the wings of the Cherubim (Whittaker, Bible Studies, p. 160)?
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