“…the great king above all gods”

There are some points of connection between the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 95. The first is the great stress on today in verse 7, connected with the theme of listening to the word of God.  I’m reminded of the petition, Give us this day our daily bread, with the parallels between bread and the scriptures.

The second is the connection between praising God as the great king in this verse and the great petition in the Lord’s Prayer: your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven.

Many of the psalms in this part of the psalter praise God as king.  Several of them have within them a cry of praise: The LORD has become king. Proclaiming God’s kingship, God’s reign over the earth, was a profound and central part of the worship of Israel when God’s people gathered in the temple.

What is happening when God is proclaimed as king above all gods?  We are proclaiming that God reigns despite the way it feels.  We are restoring God to the very centre of our faith.

The idea of kingship breaks down further into two closely related ideas.  A ideal king in the ancient world was both a might warrior, able to save and protect his people and keep them secure and a righteous judge, able to administer the kingdom internally and especially to protect the poor.

As we proclaim God as king in this psalm, we proclaim these two truths: that God is a mighty savior able to save us from our enemies; that he is a righteous judge, defending the rights of the weak and powerless.

Like those who prayed the psalm in the temple, we proclaim God’s reign as king in times when the world seems all too imperfect and unjust.  It is all the more important in those times to look forward to the day when the kingdom will come in all its fullness, when God will reign, and when the whole world will see that God is a king above all gods.  Psalm 95 is a song of faith and anticipation.

This post is one of a series of daily reflections on Psalm 95 in January, at the start of the Diocese of Sheffield Centenary Year

“For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods” (Psalm 95.3 NIV)

In the first word of verse 3 we change gear.  So far the psalm has been inviting and encouraging us to praise God.  It’s a common form in the psalms.  The word “Alleluia” comes from the Hebrew and means, literally, Praise the LORD!

In verses 3, 4 and 5 , the psalm gives us the reason or the grounds for our praise.  We return to a double call to praise again in verse 6 and another reason to praise God in verse 7 before we move into the second half of the psalm, a prophetic oracle, in verses 8-10.

How does the psalm help us appreciate God and what reasons are we given in our summons back to joy?

The first is rooted in God’s greatness and majesty and is a proclamation of God’s might.  The language is very simple.  The truth the words convey is profound.

The God we worship, the God who revealed himself to Moses as the LORD, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is the great God, the one true God, above all gods.  His is the author and prime mover and agent in creation.

We need to listen and understand that perspective at so many different levels.  We need to be aware as we come into God’s presence that the LORD is not a projection of ourselves, an idol made with human hands.  It is God who made us not the other way round.  We are part of the universe God created, not the other way round.

God is a God of strength and power and majesty (we will look at the implications of calling God king tomorrow).  It is this God who invites us to know him, to love him, to follow him, to serve him.  It is this God we are called to praise and worship.

Spend some moments today imagining the size of the universe.  God is greater.  Spend some moments reflecting on the age of the universe.  God is greater.  Spend some time reflecting on the greatest human powers you can imagine.  God is greater still.

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.

This post is one of a series of daily reflections on Psalm 95 in January, at the start of the Diocese of Sheffield Centenary Year