Pack Prayer with Praise
The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. Psalm 97:1
Four psalms use the phrase “The Lord reigns”—Jehovah malak (Psalm 93, 96, 97, and 99). Each of the psalms is a hymn of praise, celebrating the universal sovereignty of the one true God and exhorting all people of the earth to celebrate.
Why should we celebrate? First of all, the God who reigns is “armed with strength” (Psalm 93:1). His strength is so great that “the world is firmly established; it cannot be moved” unless he moves it (v. 1).
Second, we should praise his name because he is not only a powerful God but also a just God. “He will judge the peoples with equity” (Psalm 96:10). The Hebrew word translated “equity” literally means “straightness.” In other words, God’s judgments are always correct, perfectly aligned with what is right and just. He rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked (Psalm 97:10–11).
Psalm 99 also mentions God’s sovereignty, power, and justice. But it adds another dimension to God’s character by using the following phrase: “he sits enthroned between the cherubim” (v.1). The psalmist is referring to the Ark of the Covenant, which sat in the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle (and later the temple). God gave Moses the blueprints for the tabernacle and told him, “There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the [Covenant], I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites” (Exodus 25:22).
God’s absolute holiness, justice, and sovereignty should make him utterly unapproachable. Every human being, as the psalmists note, should “tremble” and “shake” before him (Psalm 99:1). However, in love he stoops to embrace us and in mercy he forgives us (99: 8). We can converse with him through prayer and listen to him through the study of his Word.
“The Lord reigns” is a magnificent truth that calms me in the chaos of life. The fact that the holy Sovereign of the Universe reaches out to me in love and mercy to fellowship with me makes my soul dance. With the psalmist I shout, “Praise your great and awesome name” (99:3).
What about God makes your soul dance? Pack your prayers with words of celebration today and every day.
Read one or more of the psalms mentioned in this week’s devotion (Psalm 93, 96, 97 and 99). Make a list of the specific reasons the psalmist is praising God. Include some specific reasons that you are praising the God Who Reigns in your prayers this week.
The phrase Jehovah malak is also used in 1 Chronicles 16:31. What were the people celebrating in 1 Chronicles 16? Why was that a cause for celebration?
In Handel’s Messiah, the “Hallelujah Chorus” contains the phrase “for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (Revelation 19:6). Energize your spirit this week by listening to that magnificent musical tribute to God at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUZEtVbJT5c