Ancient Sentiments Concerning the Sea
Psalm 89:9
You rule the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, you still them.

Throughout the Scriptures the sea is regarded as an object of fear; its majesty, greatness, masterfulness, seem mostly to have impressed men. It had not then been tamed by human skill; the compass was not known; the few vessels were inefficiently constructed for ocean sailing, and they seldom ventured out of sight of land. Scripture speaks of "the raging of the sea," of "the raging waves of the sea," of its voice "roaring," of the "floods lifting up their voice," of the "wicked being like the troubled sea," of "those that go down to the sea" seeing "the wonders of the Lord, and his judgments in the deep," of the "great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable." And even when it seems to have a gentler thought, and says, "There go the ships," immediately it adds a note of power and fear, "There is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein."

I. THE SEA WAS A SYMBOL OF SEPARATION, AND SO OF THE EARTHLY TROUBLES THAT COME OUT OF SEPARATIONS. When friends in those days were carried away over the sea, they seemed to be utterly, hopelessly lost. We may have to some extent mastered this feeling by making of the ocean a highway, and yet still our friends are more truly lost to us when the sea divides us than when the land does. And yet, in family life, there are worse dividers than the sea.

II. THE SEA BROUGHT THE SUPREME SENSE OF DANGER, AND SO SYMBOLIZED THE PERILS TO WHICH DAILY LIFE IS EXPOSED. The sea is ever raging as if it would devour. The waters sink as if they would swallow us up, or rise as if they would cast us out. In our boats there is but an inch of wood between us and death. Yet our real perils are those which come to our soul's life. "Fear not them who can but kill the body." What the sea may typify is far more important than what the sea can do.

III. THE SEA SEEMED TO EMBODY THE IDEA OF MYSTERY. We can never seem to understand the sea; never account for the sea; never feel sure what it is going to do; never read the secrets it holds in its bosom. It is the symbol for us of the mysteries, often so distressing, so agonizing, with which we are surrounded - mysteries of life, of truth, of duty, of ourselves, of God, of eternity, which compel our life on earth to be a "life of faith."

IV. THE SEA WAS AN EMBLEM OF THE CHANGEABLENESS THAT CHARACTERIZES ALL EARTHLY THINGS. It is well called the troubled, restless sea; and this we feel quite as truly in summer calm, when only gentle winds blow across it, as in winter conflicts, when wild winds raise high the tides. It ever reminds us that "the fashion of this world passeth away." Yet the psalmist could see God restraining and using even the sea, and with this thought encourages our fullest confidence in him. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.

WEB: You rule the pride of the sea. When its waves rise up, you calm them.

The Covenant of Redemption
Top of Page
Top of Page