Thank you to those who have reached out over the last week. It was pretty crazy with travel and family commitments. But now we return to our (mostly) daily posts from Psalms. Today we focus on Psalm 76.
Psalm 76 is a song of peace and salvation, though it may not look like it upon initial reading. It’s easy to read about Zion here and think this song is only about Jerusalem, the promised land, or some battle fought there. But we forget that Zion serves as a symbol for God’s sovereignty in all times and all places. That includes the world we live in today, as well as the new heavens and new earth to come (Rev. 21:1-4).
With this view of the Psalm, we are introduced to a God who is sovereign and is on a mission!
There he shatters the bow’s flaming arrows,Psalm 76:3 CSB
the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war.
Where God is sovereign (which is everywhere) he is in the business of peace. This includes caring after the widow, orphan, and foreigner (Deut. 10:18), but also includes ending, and eliminating war (Isa. 2:4). It is God who shelters us and shatters the enemies efforts.
In verse 6 the psalmist reminds us of God’s efforts in the past, specifically the Exodus when Israel couldn’t fight, but God fought for them hurling horse and rider in the sea (Ex. 15:1). We are reminded through verses 7-10 of God’s might and justice that cannot be stopped (“Who can stand before you?”). And finally the summarizing point of the psalm:
Make and keep your vowsPsalm 76:11-12 CSB
to the LORD your God;
let all who are around him bring tribute
to the awe-inspiring one.
He humbles the spirit of leaders;
he is feared by the kings of the earth.
We must respond to the fact that God is sovereign in all the world! This isn’t some nugget of knowledge to stash away in our brains for future use. This is a call to live our lives in submission to him. God’s sovereignty should affect our interactions with others, our approach to the world, our pursuit of peace, the way we lead, the way we govern, the way we worship…the list is endless. God’s sovereignty should touch every aspect of our lives. And if it doesn’t, then we are living in rebellion against God. I’d like to share a quote from the New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary on this psalm:
“…Psalm 76 is finally an invitation to live under God’s sovereignty (v. 11), to adopt God’s values and God’s ways (vv. 8-9). But to stand for justice and peace in a world filled with war and injustice requires a particular understanding of sovereignty. God’s sovereignty is exercised not as sheer force but as the power of love. The world does not understand this kind of power, but it is power nonetheless (see 1 Cor 1:25). The invitation in v. 11 is ultimately an invitation to respond to God’s love.”New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary – Vol. III, pg. 514
We have been invited to stand with God, or stand against him. To live under his reign, or in opposition to it. The choice is ours. To quote the old hymn, “What will your answer be?”