The Psalms: Enthronement Hymns

According to Dr. Bellinger there is a subgroup of praise hymns that celebrates God’s rule over creation. Most of these are found in the collection of Psalms between Psalm 93 and Psalm 99, and the only one outside of that grouping is Psalm 47. On page 43 of The Testimony of Poets and Sages he notes, “These hymns call for praise to Yahweh in a new song because Yahweh the creator continues to rule over the creation. These psalms reflect a joyous time of worship, perhaps in the fall festival times in ancient Israel, and they confront the community again with the majesty and sovereignty of God.”

As a good example of this type of hymn he uses Psalm 98, which follows a pattern of call to praise and reasons for praise. Unlike other hymns of this type, the pattern runs throughout the psalm instead of in the normal introduction, body and conclusion. The opening verse is a call to sing a new song, followed by a reason why: God’s right hand has made Him victorious.

Dr. Bellinger understands this language to refer to God’s public victory over Egypt in the Exodus. He delivered Israel from slavery out of His faithfulness and loving-kindness for that people. From this act of deliverance, the psalm moves to the entire creation, which is called upon to worship the King who delivers.

This psalm appears late in the book, which suggests that it was written at a time when Israel was already dispersed within the Babylonian Empire or its successor states. Verse 9 begins with the key to creation’s joy and praise: the arrival of King Yahweh as ruler of the earth. According to Dr. Bellinger, “The advent of King Yahweh brings change and right relationship with the creation.”

The poetic logic of the psalm is that King Yahweh will return to Israel and will rule the entire world from there. The psalmist reminds the worshipper that He is the same One who delivered Israel from Egypt, and therefore is capable of delivering them once again. God’s love and faithfulness are the guarantee that this will come to pass at the right time. That is the psalmist’s poetic way of offering hope to a nation in what might appear to be a hopeless situation.

The enthronement psalms can still teach us the valuable lesson that Jesus Christ, as King of all creation, has been in the deliverance business for a long, long time. Remembering both His Lordship and His record of deliverance in worship can sustain us in the tough and troubled times of our lives.

Unlike Israel, who had a hope of Yahweh’s return. We have Jesus’ own promise to return to set everything right.


About John Valade

I facilitate and teach in Wascana Fellowship. I have been married to Wanda since 1984. M.Div. from Briercrest Seminary, SK in 2011 and B.R.E. Canadian Bible College (now Ambrose University College) in 2000.
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One Response to The Psalms: Enthronement Hymns

  1. Pingback: The Feast of Trumpets and the Coronation of Jesus | Wascana Fellowship

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