Psalm for the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (B)

Psalm 93: 1-2, 5

The responsorial psalm for this week comes from Psalm 93, a hymn celebrating the kingship of God, who created the world by defeating the primordial waters of the sea.

Four very important themes converge in these few verses to describe God’s kingship: a military theme, a creation theme, a legal theme, and a cultic theme.

The LORD is king,

Literally, “the Lord reigns.” This psalm together with Psalm 47 and Psalms 96-99 are sometimes collectively referred to as enthronement psalms. They may have been used in a special liturgy during which God’s ascent to the throne was ritually reenacted. They have also been interpreted eschatologically, pointing to the coming of God as king at the end-time.

in splendor robed; robed is the LORD and girt about with strength.

In several ancient myths, the creation of the world followed a primordial battle between chaos and order. After chaos had been vanquished, the triumphant divine warrior established order in the universe. Creation itself may have been an orderly process, but it occurred only after a fierce victory had been won.

The culminating event of this drama was the installment of the victor as king over the universe. Enthroned in heaven, still girt with military strength from battle, he rules over all.

This image of the creator as a conquering warrior intertwines God’s divine kingship with both military and creation themes.

And he has made the world firm, not to be moved. 

The order that God established after his victory is sure; the world is firmly established because the LORD is its foundation.

Your throne stands firm from of old; from everlasting you are, O LORD.

The victory, the creation, and the enthronement of the LORD all took place from the very beginning of the world, and so they can be trusted to endure.

Your decrees are worthy of trust indeed; 

The legal theme emerges. Having established the trustworthiness of God as cosmic champion and creator, the psalmist moves to the praise of God’s decrees.

These decrees may refer to the laws governing the universe, but given what follows, it seems to refer more to God’s manifestation as king by giving the Law to his people, in the way kings normally do, and also to refer to his presence in the temple in the midst of his people.

holiness befits your house, O LORD, for length of days.

Holiness and house, which is probably a reference to the temple, introduce the cultic theme. The primordial and cosmic feats of the LORD are celebrated in the temple, where the decrees of God are remembered and revered.

“This house is the Church. To remain standing forever what it needs above all is holiness. As truth is at the heart of Christ’s testimony, so holiness is at the heart of his house” (St. Eusebius of Caesarea, Commentaria in Psalmos, 92).

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