Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
There is a power in the very brevity of this song. God is King, and all the rage and unrest of the world are impotent before that fact. It may have been inspired by some particular event, which it is hopeless to seek to recover, but it expresses a general truth. The angry tumult of men beats as vainly against the granite firmness of His righteous will as the waves against the shore. The tempests of history subside and pass as the tempest of the sea, but His laws remain for ever fixed and sure. The poetical form is regular.
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.(1) The Lord reigneth.—Comp. Psalm 97:1; Psalm 99:1. Better, Jehovah has become king: the usual term for ascending the throne (2Samuel 15:10; 1Kings 1:11; 1Kings 1:13; 2Kings 9:13); used in Isaiah of the re-establishment of the State after the Captivity (Isaiah 24:23; Isaiah 52:7); and by the latest of Israel’s poets, in that prophetic strain which looks beyond time and this world (Revelation 19:6). The robing and girding with the sword were part of the ceremony of inauguration of a monarch’s reign. (See Note, Psalm 45:3.)
The Lord is clothed . . .—These clauses run better: majesty he has put on: Jehovah has put (it) on: with strength has girded himself.
The world also is established.—This would better begin Psalm 93:3. That the earth should be solidly seated in its hidden foundation, is itself a marvel; but this wonder is mentioned only to bring into greater relief the thought of the next verse, that the throne of God, to which the earth is only as a footstool (Isaiah 66:1), has its foundation firm and everlasting, free from the vicissitudes which beset earthly monarchies.
The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves.(3) Waves.—Better, for the parallelism, roaring: but literally, breaking of the waves on the shore.
Floods, here poetically for the sea, as in Psalm 24:2.
Lift up.—The repetition of the verb the third time in a different tense adds to the force. In LXX. and Vulgate this clause is “from the voices of many waters.”
The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.(4) Sea.—Whether this description of a raging sea is to be taken literally, or as emblematic of war and its horrors, is doubtful.
Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O LORD, for ever.(5) Thy testimonies.—This statement must be taken in close connection with that of the preceding verse. The permanence of the covenant, and of the outward signs that attest it, is to the Israelite proof of the superiority of the Divine power over the forces of nature. We may extend the thought, and say that the moral law is a truer evidence of the existence of God than the uniformity of natural laws.