The Lord Reigneth
There are three Psalms which open with the above words. For our present purpose we will refer to two of them. Psalm 99 opens thus: “The Lord reigneth;
Let the People Tremble”
and well they might. God is clothed with infinite majesty, and the very thought of His majesty is overwhelming. He has only to look on the earth, and it trembles. He has only to touch the hills, and they smoke. When He came down on Mount Sinai to give His people His law, indicating His perfect standard for them, there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud, so that all the people in the camp quaked for fear. Even Moses, the man with whom God spake face to face as a man speaketh with his friend; the man who led the children of Israel to the edge of the promised land; one of the most wonderful men the world has ever known — even he said, “I exceedingly fear and quake.” Verily God’s voice then shook the earth, and we are distinctly told that in a coming day He will shake not the earth only, but also the heavens. One touch of judgment by His Almighty hand, and the earth would be no more. Yea, from His face the heavens and the earth shall flee away, so that the temporal may give way to the fixation of the eternal.
Truly God hath prepared His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom ruleth over all. “He doeth all things according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?” (Daniel 4:35). It is very extraordinary that these words were spoken by a heathen king.
Let us now turn to the other side of this subject. Psalm 97 opens with this clause “The Lord reigneth:
Let the Earth Rejoice”
and well it might. Why? Because His wisdom and lovingkindness are as glorious as His judgments are terrible.
How wisely He orders the universe! He has set a boundary for the waters, beyond which they cannot pass. He sends the springs into the valleys that they might quench the thirst of the beasts of the field. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and by the fruit of the earth He provides sustenance for His creatures. He causes the beautiful trees to grow, not only for their delightful foliage, but also for the comfortable housing of the birds. The high hills form a refuge for the sure-footed goats, and the rocks form a safe shelter for the conies. All living creatures, consciously or unconsciously, receive their food from Him. He has formed the vast oceans as a playground for their innumerable inhabitants. The heavenly bodies obey His behests. Day and night appear only by His wise ordering. Well might we exclaim with adoring wonder, “O Lord, how manifold are Thy works: in wisdom Thou hast made them all: the earth is full of Thy richness” (Psalm 104:24).
“The Lord reigneth…Rejoice”
If the material creation is called upon to rejoice, surely we His redeemed ones should need no such injunction. All His works praise Him, but only his saints can bless Him. Yet how comparatively seldom do we find ourselves in such an atmosphere of appreciation of God’s wonderful grace toward us that we feel constrained to call upon all that is within us to bless His Holy Name!
Let us endeavour to revive our memories and consider how amazingly kind God has been. He chose us in Christ before the world began (Eph. 1:4). He has forgiven and forgotten all our past sins (Heb. 10:17). He has redeemed us from the awful powers of darkness (Col. 1:13). He has made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light (1:18). He has constituted us a new creation in His beloved Son (2 Cor. 5:17). He has revealed Himself to us as a tender, gracious, loving Father (Matt. 6:8). He has transmitted to us a life which is endless (John 17:3). He has granted us a peace which passeth all understanding, which the world can neither give nor take away (Phil. 4:7-8). He has given to us His priceless Word with all its invitations, promises, encouragements, and the numerous gems which are hidden in this mine of spiritual wealth (Psalm 119:127). He has promised to hear and answer our supplications (Matt. 7). He has promised to guide us with His eye upon us (Psalm 32:8). He has pledged Himself never to leave us nor to forsake us (Heb. 13:5), and has particularly promised to be with us in time of trouble (Psalm 50:15). He has granted to us a hope which is sure and stedfast (Heb. 6:19). This hope implies that we are destined to be in the immediate presence of our glorious Lord throughout a glorious timeless eternity.
The Lord reigneth … therefore let us joy with joy unspeakable
He has placed a new song in our mouths, even praise to His Name, and if the birds sing because it is a natural thing for them to do so, surely we ought to sing our songs of praise to Him who is ever working on our behalf, and who is ever doing His utmost for our welfare night and day.
This holy exercise of singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord is one of the inevitable results of being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18-19). The Spirit-filled believer is not gloomy but glad, not continually depressed but continually rejuvenated. He is an inspiration to others wherever he may be. He attracts those around him to Christ by the very joy of his life. He is able to shew to the world that he possesses a joy which is abiding, and which alternating circumstances cannot destroy.
The Lord reigneth … therefore let all creation rejoice.
Yes, all creation: the sun, moon, stars, comets, meteors, fire, hail, snow, vapour, thunder, lightning, oceans, rivers, springs, mountains, hills, valleys, seas, beasts of the field, creeping things, flying fowls, fish in the great waters, holy angels, young men and maidens, old men and children, let them all praise the Lord for His mighty acts; for His excellent greatness; for His infinite wisdom, for His undeviating faithfulness; for His perfect holiness, for His inflexible righteousness, for His everlasting love. See Psalm 148.