The LORD reigns, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, with which he has girded himself…
I. The stability of God presented to us in the Scripture consists in HIS FIXED CHARACTER AND PURPOSES, BACKED BY UNLIMITED POWER. It is not law — regular and uniform sequence, dependent on the necessity of things — to which the Bible refers the order of nature. There is a will above law, and a character of infinite wisdom and goodness behind will, which is the support of the universe. But this wisdom and moral excellence could not sit upon a throne, God could not be a king without power equal to His wisdom. Separate the two, conceive of wisdom without power, or power without wisdom, and there could be no stability in the system of things. Power alone would be ever fashioning and destroying; wisdom would be ever contriving without accomplishing, or else would confine itself to the field of its own limited resources, because, it would be unwise to push further. God's majesty and strength as a ruler is, in fact, the union of His perfect attributes.
II. THE STABILITY OF THE WORLD RESULTS FROM THE STABILITY OF GOD. It is the place where He unfolds His fixed but progressive system. "The world is established that it cannot be moved." This stability is an emanation of the wisdom and power of God — of wisdom which has contrived it as the theatre where He is carrying forward His great plan, and which must be kept in its place as long as the plan demands, and of power which deals with unyielding matter, as easily as the potter with the clay.
III. The psalmist proceeds to speak of FORCES NATURAL, AND PERHAPS MORAL OR HUMAN, WHOSE VIOLENCE SEEMS FOR THE TIME TO OBSTRUCT THE PLAN OF GOD AND TO ENDANGER THE STABILITY OF THE SYSTEM.
1. Casting our eyes first upon the seemingly irregular forces of nature, with what awe we behold the great deep agitated by tempests, etc. These are wild, convulsionary forces, but others wear away or alter the earth in silence. In a course of ages what vast effects are produced by moisture, by heat and cold, by the soil descending with the currents of rivers, by melting snow and the decay of vegetable matter. But notwithstanding all these powers, violent or quiet, the world is established that it cannot be moved. The agitated sea and air, the flood and the lightning, do their work, and that on the whole a beneficent work according to God's laws, without endangering the safety of the system.
2. But violence in the moral world, the fury and wild force of nations, as of individuals, is not only against moral order but also against the original conception of the system. The fact of sin, then, the impetuous rage of sin on the great scale, looks as if finite beings were getting the better of God, as if they were disappointing Him, and marring somewhat the majesty of His throne, when they lift up their waves against Him. But it is far otherwise: the Lord on high is in the end shown to be "mightier than the noise of many waters, yea than the mighty waves of the sea."(1) The law of retribution is continually coming into play, when nations commit great crimes. The blind force of finite minds punishes itself, and thus clothes God before the eyes of His creatures with majesty, and establishes His throne.
(2) God draws good out of evil.
IV. The psalmist passes on by an easy sequence to teach us that GOD'S TESTIMONIES OR PRECEPTS ARE SURE, that is, are true, permanent, and to be relied upon. If the swelling waters that lift up their voice are symbols of disorder among nations as well as in nature, the transition is yet more smooth; for from the majesty and power of God as displayed against rebellious nations we go directly to His precepts which they have violated and which He upholds by His judgments. The great system of righteousness must take a permanent place in a mind of boundless wisdom, which has no biasses and needs no experience. And not only this, but the moral in God's sight must have a far higher value than the physical; righteousness is the stability of His throne; it were better for heaven and earth to pass away than that He should favour or sanction one jot of injustice. If so, His precepts are sure, they can never be abrogated, never be made light of. They are the reliance of all who love righteousness, individuals or nations. And thus holiness becomes His house for ever. Having a character of holiness which will never alter, He demands a like disposition from those who worship Him.
1. Whatever adds to the strength of the conviction that God and His precepts are immovable, adds also to the power of the righteous in the world.
2. Times of natural and moral convulsion are preeminently times calculated to bring God before the mind. They bring Him from behind the cloud, He seems to show His face, and to those who humble themselves before Him He speaks words of encouragement and hope.
3. How glorious the system of God will appear to those who shall see it in its oneness and completion. God will not seem slow or slack then, but majestic, almighty, all-wise, one and the same through the whole drama. We look upon some vast mountain of solid rock; we call to mind that it has defied the elements for ages; the flood rose and fell leaving it as it was, the rains and snows have scarcely made an impression on its surface; it has outlasted all human works and will stand until the doom. Such, to illustrate great things by small, will the stability of God's system appear, when surveyed and traced out from the heights of Heaven. But even in this world we may expect that at some future time there will be a most profound impression pervading mankind of the stability and oneness of God's counsels; general history will one day be more wrought out than now, and will be brought into harmony with revelation. When such a time shall come, the world will appear to be one more than now, and the race one, and the counsels of God one from their germ to their perfect fulfilment.
(T. D. Woolsey.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved.
WEB: Yahweh reigns! He is clothed with majesty! Yahweh is armed with strength. The world also is established. It can't be moved.