THE LORD IS KING
by Bob Wheeler
“The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty;
The Lord is clothed,
He has girded Himself with strength.
Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved.
Your throne is established from old;
You are from everlasting.”
Psalm 93:1,2; NKJV
Americans have a hard time thinking of God as “King.” We are used to thinking in terms of freedom, equality and democracy. Our very Declaration of Independence states that governments are instituted “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” It is no wonder, then, that Americans have a hard time dealing with authority.
We sometimes try to picture God as a warm, fuzzy father figure who is there to comfort and encourage us, who understands that we are “only human,” and who would never think of punishing us. And yet the Bible says that the Lord “reigns” and has a “throne.” People in the ancient Near East knew exactly what that meant: God is a king. He has authority. He must be obeyed.
God has that authority by virtue of being our Creator. We owe our very existence to Him. He is eternal and all-powerful; we are mere creatures of the dust. Our relationship with God, then, is one of sovereign and subject, of Lord and servant. He is the lawgiver and judge.
But there is another reason why it is important to recognize God as Lord and King, and that is to establish the principle of justice. One of the chief functions of a king is to promulgate and enforce the law; and the real question is, is there any real justice in the universe?
At first sight the answer might appear to be “no.” We see dishonesty, exploitation and oppression at every hand. The strong take advantage of the weak. Governments themselves are often corrupt. And yet we long for something better. We would each like to be treated fairly, and we know instinctively that that means that everyone should be treated fairly. We long for justice. But does it exist?
The answer is “yes.” The Bible tells us that
“The Lord reigns;
Let the earth rejoice;
Let the multitude of isles be glad! . . .
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.”
“Justice” is the act of judging rightly – of making sure that each one is treated fairly and gets what he deserves. And God is a righteous and just King: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.” He will reward good and punish evil.
But, you say, we do not see this now. We see a world full of violence and oppression. Where is there any justice? The answer is
“Let the rives clap their hands;
Let the hills be joyful together before the Lord,
For He is coming to judge the earth.
With righteousness He shall judge the world,
And the peoples with equity.”
This points to a time in the future when there will be a final, last judgment. The judgment will be universal – God will judge “the world” and “the peoples,” i.e., the entire human race. But unlike human justice God’s justice will be perfect. He will judge the world with “righteousness” and “equity.” Both words imply judgment which is fair and honest – true to the actual facts of the case and without partiality. As a result everyone will receive exactly what he deserves. Sin will be punished and righteousness will be rewarded.
All of this should be, according to the psalm, a cause for rejoicing. The whole earth is exhorted to “shout joyfully,” “break forth in song,” and “sing”. Even the physical world is exhorted to “clap their hands” and “be joyful together,” all because “He is coming to judge the earth” (vv. 4-9). It means that true justice will finally prevail.
None of us could bear to live in a society in which there is no justice. It would be a society in which crime pays and evil would prevail. It is largely for this reason that human governments are formed. But human justice is often imperfect. Sometimes criminals escape unpunished. Sometimes innocent people are put to death for crimes they did not commit. Sometimes the government itself becomes corrupt. And this raises a very disturbing question: will justice ultimately prevail? Or are we doomed to lead an existence which is fundamentally unfair? The answer is, God is on the throne. He is perfectly just in all His ways, and He is coming to judge the world. The prospect is both comforting and terrifying at the same time. Comforting, because we live in a universe in which justice will ultimately prevail; terrifying, because by nature we are all guilty sinners. And therein lies the human predicament.