Meditation on Psalm 47




If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that I have been studying Eugene Peterson’s book, Reversed Thunder, as I prepare for the Sunday School class I am teaching.  That book is a commentary on the Biblical book of Revelation and it is organized into chapters, each one being “the last word” on one subject or another.  The chapter we’ve been studying for the last few weeks is “The Last Word on Politics.”  It’s a pretty dense chapter.  I’ve commented on it a couple of times here in the last few weeks and I’ll probably have more to say about it in the days ahead, but my morning psalm this morning was Psalm 47 and it strikes a common chord with one of Peterson’s points in the chapter, so I am going to talk about that this morning.


Psalm 47  ends with these verses:


God is the King of all the earth

Sing to him a psalm of praise

God reigns over the nations;

God is seated on his holy throne

The nobles of the nations assemble

As the people of the God of Abraham,

For the kings of earth belong to God


Peterson says that “The Christian faith is an out-in-the-open, strenuous, legislating, conquering totality.  God is sovereign: nothing and no one is exempt from his rule.”


The objection such a proposition immediately raises is an old one: If God is sovereign; if no one is exempt from his rule, why does evil prosper?   Why were Hitler and Stalin allowed to continue their terrors for so long and at such a cost?  Why do false leaders – political and religious – continue to oppress millions and hold them in thrall?


I’ve suggested one answer here before: freedom.  God has given his creatures – humanity – the gift of freedom.  That means we’re free to rebel against Him; against His will.  You would hope that our rebellions would be crushed by the moral gravity of the universe before they hurt anybody else, but that doesn’t happen.  I don’t know why.


One thing that can be said, though – the rebellions of Hitler and Stalin – and every other tyrant who has ever raised an army – have all finally failed.  There was no thousand-year reign of the Third Reich; and Stalin’s revolution, just like every other, is now relegated to the “dustbin of history.”


Here is Shelley on the fate of tyrants; the fate of organized oppression; organized violence:


I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:

And on the pedestal these words appear:

‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.”







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