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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries

Psalms 93

Verses 1-5


Line the preceding, a psalm of praise. Jehovah is set forth as manifesting himself in the character of King. He robes himself in majesty, and reigns openly. The world, unstable as it may seem, is in reality fixed under his sway. His throne, i.e. his rule, has been established from everlasting (Psalms 93:1, Psalms 93:2). Yet there is resistance to his sway. The waters toss themselves; i.e. the powers of the world array themselves in opposition to God (Psalms 93:3). Vainly, however: God in heaven is mightier than they (Psalms 93:4). His might is especially shown in his "house" and in his "testimonies." The latter are "sure," the former is inviolate.

Psalms 93:1

The Lord reigneth; rather, is become King (ἐβασίλευσεν, LXX.); comp. Psalms 10:16; Psalms 47:6; Psalms 96:10; Psalms 97:1, etc. God is regarded as having for a time laid aside, or hidden, his sovereignty, but as now at length coming forward and inaugurating the theocracy. The writer may have in his mind some recent manifestation of Divine power, or he may be anticipating the final establishment of the reign of Messiah. He is clothed with majesty; or, "he hath robed himself in majesty" (Cheyne). The Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself; literally, the Lord is clothed, he hath girded himself, with strength (comp. "Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord," Isaiah 51:9). The world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved. When God "takes his kingdom," he firmly establishes his sway over the earth, with its inhabitants, in such sort that "it cannot be moved"—it can suffer no violent agitation or disturbance.

Psalms 93:2

Thy throne is established of old. Though God from time to time comes forward, as it were, and asserts his sovereignty, yet it is no new rule that he sets up. He has always been the King both of heaven and earth. Thou art from everlasting. Not merely from "of old," but from all eternity (comp. Psalms 90:2; Proverbs 8:23; Isaiah 63:15; Micah 5:2; Habakkuk 1:12).

Psalms 93:3

The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice. By "the floods" seem to be meant the world powers, God's enemies; perhaps especially Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon. Invading hosts are constantly compared to "floods" or "rivers" in Scripture (see Isaiah 8:7, Isaiah 8:8; Isaiah 28:2; Isaiah 17:12, Isaiah 17:13; Isaiah 59:19; Jeremiah 46:8, etc.). The floods lift up their waves; or, "their din," "their roaring" (comp. Psalms 65:7, "Which stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people").

Psalms 93:4

The Lord on high (comp. Psalms 92:8) is mightier than the noise of many waters; literally, than the voices of many waters (comp. Psalms 93:3). As the waters represent angry nations, the poet speaks not only of their "noise," but of their "voices." Yea, than the mighty waves of the sea; or, "the glorious breakers of ocean" (so Kay; and comp. Exodus 15:10).

Psalms 93:5

Thy testimonies are very sure. God's "testimonies" are his commandments, considered as witnesses to man of his nature and his will respecting them. They are "very sure," i.e. firm and unalterable, partaking of his unchangeability (James 1:17). Holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, forever. "Holiness" here seems to mean "sanctity," "inviolability". This is a tacit appeal to God to keep his temple free from all profanation and pollution in the future. The psalmist does not really ask that it shall continue inviolate "forever," but "to length of days," i.e. for an ample period.


Psalms 93:2

The eternity of God.

"Thou art from everlasting." There are truths self-evident, yet incomprehensible. We can neither doubt nor grasp them. Light, which reveals all things else, dazzles, even blinds, if we gaze on it. So these truths, in whose light reason sees all things, baffle and confound our reason. One of these is the eternity of God. We speak of time sometimes as "flying," as though we ourselves stood still. Sometimes of ourselves as "travelling on." Either way, we feel that eternity is behind us, not increased by our past years; eternity is before us, undiminished as the future becomes present. God fills eternity (Isaiah 57:15). Human language is employed in the Scriptures (Revelation 1:4; Revelation 4:8). But with God, reason assures us, can be no past, present, future, as with creatures. He is (Psalms 90:2). The eternity of God, as taught in the Scriptures, is—

I. A PROOF OF DIVINE INSPIRATION. The wonder of God's works is never so clearly seen as when we compare with man's (e.g. in the microscope). Heathen mythologies and philosophies utterly fail here. Painful, pitiable, to see the struggles of the ancient Greek mind to grapple with this problem, in the monstrous fables of the origin of the gods, or in its ever-shifting theories and guesses of philosophers. The Oriental mind, mystic, subtle, contemplative, lost itself in labyrinths of speculation. The Hindus distinguish the original fountain of being from the Creator, and even to the Creator no temples are built, nor worship offered. "Gods many and lords many" come between him and the worshipper. The Bible only shows us the eternal Creator as the Father of spirits. Its whole purpose is to teach us how near God is to us, and bring us near to him. This could never be man's invention; it is God's own voice.

II. Yet this is A CONTEMPLATION FULL OF AWE. One of the strongest motives to worship. Our cold Northern temperament, commercial hardness, keen pursuit of knowledge we can prove and analyze, frigid intellectualism, indispose us to worship. An Englishman may have "an idol in his heart"—something he puts in place of God; but he cannot comprehend why a Hindu falls down before an image. Yet worship is a real, deep need of the human heart. God's eternity is presented in the Scriptures, not as mere doctrine to be believed, but in the language of worship (see texts quoted above).


1. Rest for our thought, our heart, our love. Let all else change, God abides. "God is love."

2. Light on the mystery of God's dealings. If at such a moment, or critical turn, we could see good emerging from evil, the perplexity caused by the long continuance of sin and misery would be almost removed (Psalms 94:3). But God is working for eternity, in eternity (2 Peter 3:8, 2 Peter 3:9).

IV. This glorious attribute IS ASCRIBED TO THE LORD JESUS, and CLAIMED BY HIM. (Hebrews 13:8; Revelation 1:8, Revelation 1:11; Revelation 22:13, Revelation 22:16.)

CONCLUSION. Show the bearing of this doctrine on sin; on salvation; on Christian work.


Psalms 93:1-5

The Lord reigneth.


I. THE PROPOSITION TO BE PROVED—that "the Lord reigneth." The psalmist describes:

1. The royal robes. "He hath clothed himself with majesty." The sacred writers seem to have drawn their ideas of the regal splendour of God, not so much from the magnificence of Oriental potentates, as from the gorgeous glow of the heavens—the sun by day, the moon and stars by night. Further, "he hath girded himself with strength." This seen in the steady march of the heavenly bodies, never breaking rank, never failing to appear in due course, never wearying by long continuance.

2. The permanence of his rule. "The world established, that it cannot be moved." The order of his universe cannot be broken. And so it has ever been, "from everlasting."

II. THE PROOF. The psalmist likens the wild tumult of the peoples in rebellion against God to the fury of a storm at sea. The roar of the breakers dashing against the rooks, the thunder of the surf upon the shore, the fierce agitation of the storm-tossed waves as they lift themselves on high,—all this is the vivid picture which suggests to the mind the worse, because the wicked, rage of a rebellious people or of a rebellious soul. And how terribly true the likeness is! The souls of men setting themselves against God, in wrath and rage against him, and scornfully rejecting and renouncing his authority! But as he hushes the storm so that there is a great calm, in like manner doth he still the wrath of man, and makes it to praise him (Psalms 93:4). How often he has done this!

III. THE DEDUCTION. It is twofold.

1. That God is faithful. Men may utterly rely upon his word. Fools that we are, we often fail thus to trust him, and follow instead the miserable maxims of men of the world. But, nevertheless, God remaineth true.

2. That holy obedience is our wisdom. We cannot have God on our side if we wander from his ways—it is impossible. Let us, then, be on the side of God. Wisdom, gratitude, duty, love for our fellow men, all urge this.—S.C.

Psalms 93:1

Is God dead?

Mrs. Beecher Stowe relates an incident which once gave to a speech which Frederick Douglas was delivering a startling and almost overwhelming power. Douglas was descanting, in his usual impassioned manner, upon the wrongs and miseries of the negro race. Warming with his subject, and waxing more and more indignant with their persecutors, he seemed to lose all patience, and at last said that they must henceforth trust in the strength of their own right arms, seeing that it was in vain otherwise to hope for deliverance. At this moment there arose a tall, aged negress, who, while perfect silence reigned in the hall, said, in a voice not loud, but deep, "Frederick, is God dead?"—S.C.

Psalms 93:1

The God of vengeance.

To many it seems a strange prayer that God should show himself in this character. Therefore consider—


1. It is not the same as revenge, a human, an evil, and often unjust thing. Revenge is what men delight in when they have received some injury at the hands of their fellow men, and hence is never right, but ever condemned of God. But:

2. Vengeance is the avenging of public wrong, the upholding of justice and righteousness, and essential to the preservation of society and of all human well being. Therefore it may well be prayed for. See Milton's appeal, "Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints," etc. Wow, concerning this vengeance of God, note further—

II. ITS REALITY. The history of mankind is marked by it. Again and again has God thus visited guilty men. The Bible, secular history, personal observation, experience, all attest it. Therefore when in the future life the Scriptures warn us of like vengeance, how can any dare so regard it as impossible?

III. ITS ONE AND ONLY EXCITING CAUSE—Human sin. Not a man's circumstances nor anything that he cannot help, but only his sin, conscious, wilful, persisted in sin. In this psalm there are set forth some of these sins, which cry to God for vengeance.

IV. ITS RIGHTEOUSNESS. We confess this now when we see men who have steeped themselves in crime brought to judgment, and just doom passed upon them. And in the future there will be no vengeance that does not command the heartfelt confession from all beholders, that God is righteous who judgeth so.

V. ITS TERRIBLENESS. "Fools make a mock at sin;" did they know its doom, their mockery would soon cease. Even in this world the vengeance of God often utterly overwhelms the sinner. Well may the psalmist ask (Psalms 90:11), "Who knoweth the power of thine anger?" etc. It is immeasurable.

VI. ITS CERTAINTY. It may be delayed, and for a long while seemingly evaded, hut sooner or later it surely comes.

VII. ITS CHOSEN HIGHWAY. It is along the path of little sins. The ungodly falleth by little and little. The mere cobwebs of separate single sins become at length twisted and transformed by the law of habit into the strenuous ligaments which bind the soul over to eternal sin.

VIII. ITS ARREST. Let the sinner repent and flee for shelter to Christ.—S.C.


Psalms 93:1

The King figure for God.

Prayer book Version, "The Lord is King." The sentence would be more precisely rendered "has become King," for some particular manifestation of Jehovah's kingly rule was then occupying the psalmist's attention; but what that manifestation was cannot be discovered. Some associate the psalm with the returned captives, who, in some sense at least, re-established the theocracy. It represents the religious joy of the people in the setting up of Jehovah's kingdom, and the realized presence of Jehovah as the spiritual King; but the setting is that of a poet, who has a wider sphere from which to draw his figures than the religious man has. It needs attention that the King figure for God is not altogether satisfactory, because kingship is not a natural relation; it cannot be either a permanent or universal relation. Kingship represents a human expediency. God made families; these naturally organize into tribes. For families and tribes the rulers are fathers and patriarchs. Men made cities and nations, and invented kingships to centralize the governmental systems which they designed. The figure of king should therefore always be applied to God, and to the Messiah, with great care and caution. The actual kings who have ruled over nations, though they may, in some things, fitly represent God, in other things are wholly unworthy of him. And an ideal king is difficult to create mentally. It was the peculiarity of the Jew, that he had no earthly, visible king. Jehovah unseen yet ever present, was to the nation of Israel, all, and more than all, that human kings were to the nations around them. But this high view of the Divine Kingship Israel proved unable to maintain. It is that spiritual theocracy which the Lord Jesus came to restore.

I. THE KING FIGURE FOR GOD DECLARES HIS AUGUST POWER. Take the Eastern, rather than Western, idea of the king. In the East kings are regarded as the embodiment of all kinds of power. At first they were chosen because of bodily size and strength, as was king Saul. Notions of Divine power were connected with them. So Israel's God was thought of as the Omnipotent, All-controlling One.

II. THE KING FIGURE FOR GOD DECLARES HIS ABIDING PRESENCE. A king absent from his kingdom is inconceivable. If he is away, some one must take his place. So God as King is with his people.

III. THE KING FIGURE FOR GOD DECLARES HIS GRACIOUS PURPOSE. For a king ought to be the "father of his people;" supremely concerned for their highest well being. And God reigns with a view to securing righteousness, which is, for man, the supreme blessing.—R.T.

Psalms 93:1

The completeness of Divine Creation.

"The world also is established, that it cannot be moved." It is a remarkable illustration of the mistakes made in explaining the poetical figures of God's Word, that Calvin appealed to this passage as proving that the earth is motionless, which it is not. What the psalmist rejoices in is the completeness of the Divine creation. It needed no one to put to it a finishing touch. Man's handiwork always needs finishing off. We may illustrate by the complicated machine which man may make. However complete it may be, no one thinks of its going alone, without any supervision and attention; and no one thinks of doubting its completeness because it receives such attention. Yet men so often persist that if God's creation is perfect, it must be independent; it must need no attention and no repair, even if self-willed men do interfere with it.

I. COMPLETENESS MEANS THAT THE THINGS MADE ARE PERFECT AND SUFFICIENT. We may not think that God made all he could make. What he made was relative to the particular moral beings he designed. They were to be beings with five senses, and creation was to be fitted to those five senses. Of everything God made it was declared that it was good, not necessarily the best possible to God's thought, but the best possible for God's purpose. Show that man, in all the ages, has never of himself been able to improve a single thing God has made. He has only improved things by bringing out the latent possibilities God put in the things. As with developed flowers, roses, etc.

II. COMPLETENESS MEANS THAT THE LAWS RULING THE RELATIONS OF THINGS ARE ONCE FOR ALL FIXED AND DEFINED. Much is made of the fixity and certainty of the "laws of nature." Too much cannot be made of it. "The law of the Lord," in creation, "is perfect." But in every set of laws it will be found that law qualifies, and limits, and even crosses, law in actual working. It is so with the laws of nature. And the best perfection is seen in the fact that the laws will work with each other harmoniously. Illustrate how the laws of life and of death work into each other throughout creation.

III. COMPLETENESS MEANS THAT A LIVING WILL PRESIDES OVER ALL THINGS AND THE WORKING OF ALL LAWS. Nothing can be moved, in the sense of being changed; but everything is within the Divine adjustment, and the confidence of the psalmist arises from the conviction of the actual present Divine rule.—R.T.

Psalms 93:2

The distinction between God and God's handiwork.

"Thou art from everlasting." Thou wast before the world was. He was. He made the earth, and all that therein is. "In the beginning God." His name is the "I am." "The first and foundation stone of the great temple of revealed truth is a declaration which grasps all space, all being, all time, and bids us see before them, above them, and altogether independent of them—One lonely, infinite Being, having life in himself. When there was no heaven and no earth, in the silent dark eternities, in the beginning, there was God." The first chapter of Genesis is evidently "designed to impress on us that the world was not created by chance, by self-generation, by impersonal powers of nature, or by many agents acting either in harmony or in antagonism. God is distinct from all that he has made." Bishop Wordsworth says, on Genesis 1:1, "The declaration of this verse opposes the Pantheist, who says, 'The world is God;' the Peripatetics, who say, 'The world exists from eternity;' the Stoics, who say, 'The world was made by Fate and Necessity;' the Epicureans, who say, 'It arose from a fortuitous concourse of atoms;' the Persians and Manichaeans, who say, 'It arose from the antagonism of two rival powers;' the Gnostics, who say, 'It was made by angels, or emanations of aeons;' Hermogenes, who says, 'It was made out of matter coeternal with God;' and the modern notion, that it arose out of the spontaneous agency and evolution of self developing powers." The distinction between a man and the machine he makes is clear enough; but the complication of thought, in relation to God, arises from the fact that he makes the material of which he makes the machine of creation. Illustrate the distinction along the following lines.





V. CREATION HAS BUT A TEMPORARY EXISTENCE; THE CREATOR IS ETERNAL. "From everlasting to everlasting thou art God;" "Of thy years there is no ending" (2 Peter 3:10).—R.T.

Psalms 93:3

The irresistible power of floods.

Though we have experience of disastrous floods, the full force of the figure can only be felt in Eastern and in mountainous lands. The "spate" in Scotland, the wady floods of Palestine, and the gigantic overflow of such rivers as the Tigris and the Euphrates, or the awful desolations of Chinese rivers when the embankments give way, alone provide adequate illustration of such texts as this now before us. If we take Mosaic associations for this psalm, then desert wadyfloods will be in the poet's mind. If we take the associations of the returned captives, then the awful floods of the Babylon rivers will be in his mind. In a previous homily the Jewish dread of the sea has been recalled. The Mosaic associations may include reference to God's control of the waters of the Red Sea, and using them as agents of his judgment on Pharaoh. One forcible illustration of a wady flood will indicate the force of this poetic figure, and help us to realize what he must be who can mate and master even such floods. A traveller was at Nazareth when a sudden but violent storm arose. The rain fell in torrents; and in the course of an hour a river flowed past the convent door, along what lately was a dry and quiet street. In the darkness of the night were heard loud shrieks for help. The flood carried away baskets, logs of wood, tables, and fruit stands. At length, a general alarm was given. Two houses, built on the sand, were undermined by the water, and both fell together, while the people in them escaped with difficulty. Loosened waters have been for man, in every age, the type of the masterful, the uncontrolled. Man never feels his helplessness so much as in presence of loosened waters. He can fight with fire; he can do nothing with water, when it once gets free.

I. THE POWER OF GOD IS SEEN IN HIS MASTERY OF WATERS. See especially the impression produced by the crossing of the Red Sea, and the destruction of the Egyptians. See same impression from crossing of Jordan. Great nations are likened to floods. And they too are fully within Divine control.

II. THE POWER OF GOD MANIFEST IS SEEN IN HIS MASTERY OF WATERS. Two striking scenes: Walking on the waters. Quelling the storm on Galilee with a word of command.—R.T.

Psalms 93:5

God in revelation the same as God in nature.

"Thy testimonies are very sure." The use of this word "testimonies" in other psalms suggests that God's witness to man in his revealed Word is meant by it. The unity of the psalm would, however, be preserved if we regarded the "testimonies" here as those which God makes to man through nature. The point of the verse is usually set forth in such a way as this: "The permanence of the covenant, and of the outward signs that attest it, is to the Israelite proof of the superiority of the Divine power over the forces of nature." "The moral Law is a truer evidence of the existence of God than the uniformity of natural law."

I. REVELATION NEVER CONTRADICTS NATURE. When there are seeming contradictions, it is necessary to inquire whether we have the testimony of nature clear or confused. For man, interfering with Nature's order, has confused her witness. And so it is necessary to inquire whether we have the revelation pure and simple, since there is often a material difference between what God has revealed, and what man makes of that which is revealed. The contradictions belong to the man mark put on revelation and nature. Both are from one hand and mind, and are in absolute harmony.

II. REVELATION CONFIRMS NATURE. Set out an orderly scheme of nature religion; carefully fix its principles; and you will surely find they are the first principles of revelation. Indeed, revelation only comes to support primary principles of nature religion, because men overlay them with manufactured religious systems. Nature worship is quite a different thing from natural religion.

III. REVELATION ENLARGES UPON NATURE. Nature sets forth mainly what may be called the physical attributes of God—power, wisdom, etc. In a general way it shows God's goodness, and, declaring that qualities attach to actions, prepares for the realization of God as Judge, Rewarder, and Punisher. Revelation deals fully with God's moral qualities and relations; and has for its climax the disclosure of the Divine redemptive purpose, which, as wrought out, upholds every primary attribute of God that nature exhibits.—R.T.

Psalms 93:5

Holiness the characteristic of Divine authority.

The word "house" has been taken to mean God's earthly temple. And some writers can see an allusion to the newly built temple of Zerubbabel. But it is better to regard the term "house" in the light of the psalm; and then it evidently means this world of created things and created beings, which God controls and rules. The psalm deals with the Kingship of God; his absolute power and authority in his world; and this last clause seems designed to meet the question which is at once called forth by the comparison of Jehovah with earthly kings. It would be an awful thing if we could know nothing of the character of the Being set in rule over us, who has such absolute, such irresistible, power. Our God may have it; for he is "holy in all his ways, and righteous in all his works."





The rule of God can therefore be fully acquiesced in. Infinite goodness unites with infinite wisdom; these combine with infinite power; and all are toned by the infinite righteousness, which proves to be the infinite charity. Men may say rejoicingly, "The Lord God omnipotent reigneth," because they may be quite sure that "holiness characterizes his rule."—R.T.


Psalms 93:1-5

The psalm celbrates the majesty of

Jehovah as Creator and Ruler of the universe.

Three principal thoughts—

I. GOD IS ABLE TO OVERCOME THE FIERCEST OPPOSITION OF HIS FOES. The "floods" and "many waters" and "mighty waves" are figures denoting the angry and turbulent opposition of his foes. But he is mightier than and high above them all.

1. He is actual King, and reigns over the whole universe. (Psalms 93:1.) He hath girded himself with strength for the subjugation of his enemies.

2. He created man and nature. (Psalms 93:1.) "The world is established, that it cannot be moved." It stands fast by his will and power.

3. His righteous sway and government are of eternal duration. (Psalms 93:2, Psalms 93:4.) And cannot be overthrown by the utmost power of man.

II. GOD IS NOT ONLY ABLE BUT FAITHFUL TO FULFIL THE PROMISES HE HAS MADE. (Psalms 93:5.) Promises of deliverance from captivity, and of safety and salvation.

III. BECAUSE GOD IS MIGHTY AND FAITHFUL AND HOLY, HE WILL PRESERVE HIS CHURCH INVIOLATE. (Psalms 93:5.) God dwells with his Church and people, and is the guarantee of their holiness and perfection.—S.

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Psalms 93". The Pulpit Commentary. 1897.