The word for 2020 is disorder. Thankfully, Psalm 93 reminds us that God’s power and authority rises above the disorder of our lives.
In the passage, disorder and its corresponding confusion are symbolized by the sea and its mighty waves that rise high and crash down with power. God is envisioned as the king who has enough power to control disorder and reshape it into something beneficial that serves God’s greater purposes. In order to gain a fuller perspective of what the psalmist was saying, we must understand where the writer’s thinking about God’s ability to bring order to disorder began.
In Hebrew culture, faith in God did not necessarily begin with God creating something out of nothing, as is espoused through the idea of the “Big Bang.” Instead, faith in God allowed for the idea that “in the beginning” something already existed, and God took that something and made it into something else that served God’s purposes.
A simple corresponding idea for us would be to think about what it’s like to put a 100-piece puzzle together. The puzzle comes in a box that has a picture on the front that shows what it’s supposed to look like when it’s complete. The challenge is to take what seem like disjointed pieces and make them into a comprehendible whole.
The first step to assembling the puzzle is to open the box and pour out its contents. What you then have is one big jumbled mess. But with a patient eye and intentional placement of each puzzle piece, you can eventually assemble the puzzle into what it was created to be. You begin with a jumbled mess that eventually ends up as a beautiful image.
In a sense, this is how the Hebrews viewed God’s process of shaping this world. We see these types of ideas and language when we read Genesis 1. In the beginning there was disorder. But through God’s power and intention, God’s sent the Spirit to intentionally move through that chaos to shape the world that we are in.
Disorder was not necessarily an evil thing. It was what it was. A state of existence that needed God’s ordering.
Disorder and God’s ordering went hand in hand. One came about after the other. You could not have order without disorder existing first. Without the foundation of disorder, the separate pieces that needed ordering, you would not have something that was eventually ordered to God’s specifications.
Although, in Hebrew culture, the act of shaping this world was God’s first forays into bringing order out of disorder, this ability remained God’s calling card.
Because God was able to bring about order out of disorder through the creation process, the writer could trust that God would bring about order in their life, no matter how much disorder seemed to be around. Because God brought order to the world in the beginning, God could bring order to the psalmist’s life when it was most needed.
I find hope in this psalm today because I think the writer was trying to express a certain level of hope that I think we all consistently need. Psalm 93 reminds us that while we look disorder squarely in the face and cry out over the discomfort it brings, we can be assured that God can hear our voices above the disorder and bring about blessings from it.
Terrell Carter is vice president of community life and chief diversity officer at Greenville University in Greenville, Illinois, community team leader for Churchnet, and pastor of Webster Groves Baptist Church in Webster Groves, Missouri.