1 Chronicles 16:31
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The LORD reigns.
The Lord reigneth, or "Jehovah is king." David saw, in the restoration of the ark, a new and solemn resumption of his direct government by Jehovah; and of this glorious fact he bids the people make acknowledgment and render witness. Explain fully the Jewish conception of the theocracy, and show how it was connected with a present and abiding outward symbol - at first the pillar-cloud, and then the ark. The importance of the theocratic idea, and the actual influence of it on mind and heart, depended on the differing religious dispositions of the people. To the worldly minded Jew it would be a vague notion, a sort of sublime, but impractical, philosophical conception - a sort of hereditary national sentiment, and nothing more. To the truly spiritually minded man it was the first, most impressive, and most practical of all truths. It was the thought that put glorious meaning into commonplace life and labour. Life has its holy issues, and it might well have its shrouded mysteries, for "the Lord reigneth." This Jewish notion passes over into Christianity, and we realize Jehovah's present spiritual reign in the administration of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the Maccabean times there was a tendency to lose the idea that "the Lord doth reign," and to substitute for it a phrase which indicated a great outlooking for a coming Deliverer and a golden age, "the Lord shall reign." And a similar evil tendency still affects the Christian Church; failing to realize Christ's present rule, some sections of the Church keep looking on to some fancied near time, when Christ shall come again and take to himself his great power and reign. And the antidote is full and faithful teaching on the point of which the psalmist makes so much - the present direct, and every way practical, present reign over the earth and the Church, of Jehovah, apprehended in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Keeping the present reign in Christ before our minds, it may be instructive to show -
I. THAT CHRIST'S LIFE ON EARTH HELPS OUR APPREHENSION OF THE REIGN. The reign of God the Spirit must ever seem to man an unreal, intangible thing, unless it can take some outward and material shape; and yet that shape and form must be such as will in no sense imperil the spiritual character of the reign. No merely human sovereignty could be satisfactory, for none could be worthy of that sublime royalty which it presumed to represent. Christ's life on earth was the theocracy materialized for human apprehension. Our Lord's humanity sets God before our thought in human terms and figures such as we can understand. And the kingship of Jesus was felt and acknowledged by friend and foe, wherever he went, and not exclusively by those disciples who knew him most intimately. His teaching was given "with authority;" his personal relations were a rule. It can be no wonder that people should cast their garments in his way, and wave palm branches, and shout, saying, "Hosanna to the King that cometh in the Name of the Lord!" His life is the earth-picture of the Divine reign over the hearts and lives of men.
II. THAT CHRIST'S GLORY IN HEAVEN MAKES US REALIZE THE REIGN AS A SPIRITUAL REIGN. It takes all the merely carnal features out of it. The reign is such a one as our exalted, glorified, ascended, spiritual Lord and Saviour may have, who is "Lord of lambs the lowly, King of saints the holy." The risen, heavenly Christ we feel must have, as the sphere for his rule, not our bodily actions only, but our wills, our choices, our affections; gaining, as he must, his beginnings in our souls, and extending his holy authorities over all the relations we sustain. Explain and impress how, in our common, everyday life, we can realize the theocratic conception, and practically live in the joy and impulse of being daily "in the great Taskmaker's eye." - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The LORD reigneth.