A dear friend of mine has a huge wall littered with the word, “Hope.” This crazy life and world in which we live needs hope. We all need hope. This friend has gone through many trying times and I know that it is the hope of the Lord that keeps her going. We see hope many places in the Bible. But there is one section I want to zoom in on today, Psalms 90-104.
In these last Psalms of Book VI, God’s people need hope, desperately. They were compiled during a time of exile. The people were torn from their own land, living among foreigners, and longing to be back in the land of the Lord: Israel. They needed hope big time. (You can read more on the structure of the Psalms here.)
That is why God was so gracious to depict himself in these psalms as King, Yahweh Malak in Hebrew. This is an important distinction for God because He is the rightful ruler of the earth.
As you read through the Old Testament you will find that Israel begged for a king to rule them (1 Samuel 8:6), they then had many kings who ruled (some good and some not so good, take a look at 1 & 2 Kings). But all of these earthly kings, no matter their amount of rightness, would never stand up to the holy standard of the king that the people truly needed. While David was a great king, ruling over the people, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), restoring the ark to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:1), even David was not THE king that would rule in all goodness and mercy. God had promised in the Davidic covenant (2 Samuel 7:8-17) that He would have a king ruling his people forever. But, no, these human kings were not going to fulfill God’s covenant with His people because they were not perfect.
That is why God fulfills this covenant Himself by being THE King over His people and the universe. And to even further fulfill this covenant, God sent Jesus to be the perfect human King who would sacrifice His life for His subjects (Isaiah 9:6-7).
But, what does that mean for us? It means that we serve a mighty King who is ruling over the earth. It means we can have hope. And these Psalms of book IV show us 6 Reasons to Have Hope in our God-King.
So, pull your Bible out, get your highlighter ready, and let’s jump right in.
*I will just preface this list by saying that I have quoted heavily from O. Palmer Robertson’s book, “The Flow of the Psalms.” It is an EXCELLENT read and I highly recommend getting a copy to read for yourself. Here is a link.
1. He is the Creator.
As our King, God is the creator of His entire kingdom: the whole world. Robertson says, “Though the idea of creation ex nihilio (out of nothing) might not be expressed in so many words, the concept is clearly present in the Psalms. ‘Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God’ (Ps. 90:2).”
We can hold onto the fact that God indeed created the world from nothing (Genesis 1:1), by the word of His mouth. This brings me great hope when I am prone to wonder, “What is this life really all about?” The answer: God; the creator, sustainer, and King of the universe.
2. He is the Rock.
From Robertson, “As previously indicated, this ancient expression goes back to the prophetic blessing of Jacob on the various tribal heads as recorded in Genesis 49. Of Joseph he said, ‘His bow remained steady… because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel’ (Gen. 49:24). This prophetic utterance combines the image of shepherd/king along with rock/stability, and depicts the unshakable character of God’s kingship.”
God is our Shepherd-King, mighty Rock… several hymns come to mind with this regal function of our Lord. “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand,” “Rock of Ages.” And there is usually a reason hymn-writers choose such strong lyrics. They stick with you, instilling hope, courage, and comfort.
We need a solid Rock to cling to when our world is falling apart. When we don’t know where to turn, we can dig in deep and hold on tight to our mighty, strong Rock, our King of glory. He will give us hope.
Spurgeon said, “I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of Ages.”
3. He is the Judge.
Okay, just wait a minute. God as King is a Judge? Doesn’t that strike a little fear (not hope) into your heart? (It does mine!) But just read this long quote (sorry, not sorry) from Robertson:
“Two psalms in Book I (Pss. 7, 9) and a cluster of psalms in Book IV (Pss. 94-99) provide the major development of the concept that the kingship of God establishes him as Judge. In both these groupings, the role of God as King over the nations plays a prominent part in his function as Judge. According to Psalm 7: ‘Awake, my God; decree justice. Let the assembled peoples gather around you. Rule over them from on high; let the Lord judge the peoples. Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness.’ (Ps. 7:6b-8a)
“Clearly, God will judge his own people. In fact, the psalmist deliberately exposes himself to the lord’s righteous judgments. At the same time, God’s rule over the nations can be equated with his exercise of judgment over them. As a righteous Judge, he searches minds and hearts and does not restrict himself to considering only a person’s outward actions. A vital part of his royal function is bringing to an end the violence of the wicked and making the righteous secure (Ps. 7:9). He is ‘a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day’ (Ps. 7:11).
“Once again the psalmist declares: ‘You have sat on your throne judging righteously. You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked… The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice.’ (Ps. 9:4b-5a; 7-8)
“So the function of God as a king who judges does not mean that he simply reaches a decision about the rightness or wrongness of people’s behavior. Instead, he enforces his judgments by rewarding the righteous and destroying the wicked.
“The later grouping of psalms that present God as Judge are closely connected to the Yahweh Malak psalms. In this case, not only do his people rejoice in his role as Judge, but the heavens, the earth, the sea, the fields, and all the trees of the forest sing for joy. So what is the occasion of this universal rejoicing? Two psalms of the Yahweh Malak collection conclude with almost identical wording: ‘They will sing before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth.’ (Ps. 96:13; cf. Psalm 98:9)
“In this case, the prospect of the Lord’s coming to judge the world does not inspire a note of terror. Indeed, the wicked will receive their just deserts. But the overriding response of the earth will be joy in the Lord as he climaxes his great work of redeeming his people in righteousness.”
The “Lord’s coming to judge the world does not inspire a note of terror… overriding the response of the earth will be joy in the Lord as He climaxes His great work of redeeming His people in righteousness.” Mind=blown.
God’s judgment, though swift and terrible for those who do not follow Him, is swift and sweet for those that do. Our King’s subjects (us!) will be so overjoyed that God has finally been able to finish His work of righteousness that we long for the day He will come back to judge. We have no need to be scared. We can have hope that He WILL come back to make all things right, to bring final righteousness. And we cannot wait to share this wonderful news with others who may not share His righteousness yet.
4. He is the gracious Lord who forgives all His people’s sins.
I would encourage you to go back and mark several of those verses to read again and again. God is our gracious Lord who forgives ALL of our sins. Not one sin is left out of being forgiven, not one is looked over. He sees every single bad look, every single lie, every single terse word, every single disobedience, and He has paid for all of them, forgiving every single one.
This complete forgiveness fills the believer’s heart with hope.
And, just so we are clear, a “believer” is someone who believes the Gospel.
Robertson says, “Though as Sovereign Lord he consumes people for their sins, God hears their plea for the manifestation of his compassion. He forgives all sins, does not treat his people as their sins deserve, and removes their sins as far as the east if from the west. Although the people contemporary with the psalmist have sinned just as persistently as his nation rebelled throughout their wilderness wanderings, the Lord can be called on to deliver, remember his covenant, and save.”
5. He exercises His providential care over the whole world.
Not only did our God-King make the whole world from nothing, but He sustains the world as well. He gives us the breath we breathe every moment, instilling hope in the God of the Bible.
From Robertson: “The beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the moon and the sun, along with all humanity, give glory to the Lord, who sustains the whole of his creation.”
6. He is the sovereign Lord of the covenant who has directed the entire life of His people.
This last point really hit home for me. He is sovereignly directing the life of His people. He’s in control, friends. He is directing, guiding, and leading us even when it doesn’t feel like it. I cannot put it better than what Roberston wrote here:
“Through all different experiences across the stage of redemptive history, the Lord of the Covenant has been his people’s guide and their support. He has never forsaken them utterly.
“So God is indeed a great King over the whole of his earthly dominion. All the creatures of the World, all the nations of the world, all the history of the world remain subject to his gracious and righteous rule. Viewed from the perspective of a people suffering under the banishment of exile, these affirmations that Yahweh rules are calculated to instill great hope in the hearts of his people. The same applications of these psalms may be made in every age.”
These Psalms are meant to instill hope in the heart of every believer. Now, in this day and age, we have many similarities with the Israelites. We are waiting for God’s kingdom to be fully realized and established. We are in the already-not-yet phase. But God’s future kingdom gives us hope for the days ahead.
And, we don’t have to wait to experience His kingdom. We experience it everyday through the church. When we meet together, break bread, have communion, fellowship, build relationships, we are getting a peek at God’s great kingdom work in each one of us. It is the hope that God has instilled that shines out when we function together as God’s kingdom workers, the church.
J. I. Packer said that “The task of the church is to make the invisible kingdom visible through faithful Christian living and witness-bearing. The gospel of Christ is still the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23; 24:14; Acts 20:25; 28:23, 31), the good news of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit through entering a disciple’s relationship to the living Lord (Rom. 14:17). The church must make its message credible by manifesting the reality of kingdom life.” [Concise Theology, pg. 194].
Remember these 6 reasons from the Psalms to have hope in our King and then live it out. Live a hope-filled life because God has made you a hope-filled person.
And, if you do not have the hope of a future with God in heaven, read more about how you can have that hope through the Gospel here.
Okay, now tell me, which verse did you highlight and underline to remember for later?
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