Reflection This majestic psalm is a hymn to God who comes in glory and supremacy. In the first stanza we witness Creation’s testimony. The roaring of the ocean serves to proclaim God’s rule; and it’s as if the very purpose of the clouds is to part dramatically at God’s arrival, dispelling all darkness. That’s quite an entrance!
The second stanza reiterates this assurance that God intends to be seen and known among us. Such an advent is bound to shake things up – yet for “Zion”, the place and people of God’s presence, this is no fearful prospect but rather an occasion for great gladness. For as God’s truth blazes a trail, the emptiness of every competing claim on human loyalty shall be exposed.
Yet for the time being, the reality and reach of evil must be acknowledged. From the glorious expectancy of the first two stanzas, in the third we’re jolted back to our present and pervasive experience of pain. Faith doesn’t exempt us from suffering; but what we do have is the comfort and conviction, in faith, that injustice and captivity shall not have the final word.
For indeed – as we find in the final stanza – blessedness is not just our fate, but our inheritance. By God’s boundless grace, God’s servants gain the status of God’s children. So we’re encouraged finally to amplify the proclamation with which the psalm began: an ocean can only roar its praise, but our joyful privilege is to worship God by name!
Throughout the psalm, three strands have been woven: the revelation of God, the response of humanity/wider creation, and the effect or consequence of God’s rule (this is even more evident in the Biblical text, which falls naturally into three rather than four stanzas). So let’s ponder: Where have we seen God’s glory revealed? Have our lifestyles welcomed or resisted this revelation? And what might it mean to live as God’s children today?
Prayer Lord of all: open our eyes as you come to “show the way”, open our ears as you turn our lamenting to “songs of peace”, open our hearts to “declare the Lord’s most holy name”. Sovereign God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: glory be to you. Amen.
The Rev’d Dominic Grant, Minister, Barnet URC and St Andrew’s Chesterfield Road URC