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Psalm 93

Sovereign majesty

Whenever chaos threatens, we struggle to believe God is in control and, even more, to live like he is. This psalm’s proclamation of God’s sovereignty is all the more vital because the world so vigorously denies it.

Yahveh reigns
robed in majesty.
Yahveh has armed himself with power
having established the earth firmly
so it can never be shaken.
2 Your throne has stood strong
since the start of time—
you’ve reigned from all eternity.
3 The floodwaters raised, Yahveh
the floodwaters raised their roaring voice
the floodwaters raised their crashing waves.
4 Mightier than the roar of their billows
mightier than the crash of their breakers
Yahveh, who rules over all, is mighty.
5 Your decrees stand firm
your house is characterized by holiness
Yahveh, forever.

When chaos comes calling, we immediately wonder if anything we cling to—even God—will hold firm. When Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians and most of the survivors were taken captive, the Israelites suddenly lost their temple, capital city, royal dynasty, homeland and freedom—most of what had defined them for as long as they could remember. Against that backdrop, this psalm assured them that, tragic though those events were, God’s throne wasn’t even jostled by them, his majesty and power untouched.[1]

The creation story pictures God imposing order on earth’s chaotic floodwaters—think raging storms, tsunamis and mudslides, all-in-one. The Canaanites and Babylonians each told similar stories about their high god’s subduing earth’s primordial floodwaters. Here the psalmist uses that familiar picture to proclaim that God has always reigned high above earth’s chaos and always will. He hasn’t changed, no matter how weak and vulnerable we feel and no matter how hard it is for us to hear it.

So, the psalmist proclaims God’s reign in circumstances that appear to deny it, and she goes on to say that his laws—God’s moral laws, no less than the laws of nature—haven’t changed either. He rules his people with justice since holiness perfectly characterizes his royal house and always will.

Jesus, you proclaimed God’s reign in a situation that made many dismiss you as a foolish dreamer. And however hard it is to hear it, you still reign supreme, despite the chaos we face today. Help us to believe the wind and waves still heed your command and your goodness will not fail us. Amen.

During your free moments today, meditate on this truth:

Mightier than the roar of the floodwaters’ billows
mightier than the crashing of their breakers
Yahveh, who rules over all, is mighty.


[1] Many of the psalms in Book III (Psa. 73-89) lamented these events, with the psalms in Book IV (Psa. 90-106) taken as responses to them.

Why Yahveh?

Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and occasionally transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Modern translations, likewise, either translate or transliterate it. While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it is more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. I’ve chosen to transliterate it to root it more firmly in the biblical story as the name—meaning the “self-existent One”—that God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. This name set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it in order better to hallow it. In transliterating it, I follow the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard. He advocated transliterating it as Yahveh—pronounced yah·vay—arguing that following the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish than Yahweh.
May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Robert Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.