The LORD reigns; let the people tremble: he sits between the cherubim; let the earth be moved.…
He sitteth between the cherubim. Jennings and Lowe render, "Jehovah has become King, the peoples tremble; (even) he that sits upon the cherubim, the earth shakes." There is a designed contrast. The peoples tremble, the king is established firm; the earth shakes, the throne of the king is steady and unmoved. The figure of God as sitting on the cherubim is difficult, because we cannot be quite sure of the ideas Israelites had of the position and relations of the fire symbol of God in the holy of holies. In Psalm 80:1 God is presented as sitting, throned above the cherubim;" and the idea here is probably "above the cherubim" rather than "on the cherubim." Then we get a clear meaning. The cherubim represent all created beings superior to man, all superseusual beings; and God is to be thought of as beyond and above even them, as superior to them as to the people of this earth, and as unaffected by conceivable changes in them as he is unaffected by the commotions of earth. The more usual way of explaining the figure is given by Spurgeon, thus: "In grandeur of sublime glory, yet in nearness of mediatorial condescension, Jehovah revealed himself above the mercy seat, whereon stood the likeness of those flaming ones who gaze upon his glory, and forever cry, 'Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts.'"
I. GOD'S REIGN ESTABLISHED. Keep the associations of the restored exiles. They set up again the theocratic kingdom, and conceived of Jehovah as coming again to reign. So they naturally recalled the old sign of his presence and rule, the Shechinah-light which shone above the mercy seat, which the cherubic figures guarded. The sign of the lapse of the nation from Jehovah was the fading or removing of that light.]Now the restored exiles rejoiced in the resumption of Jehovah's reign, and in figure presented it as God taking his seat again above the cherubim. God takes the throne only when hearts are willing to receive him.
II. GOD'S REIGN CONFIRMED. The satisfaction of the psalmist evidently is in the fact that God means to stay enthroned. He is conceived of as unaffected by the trembling of the people or the shaking of the earth. There is even a more striking poetical figure. If even the cherubim were to tremble, or shake, or fail, God's reign is too confirmed to be affected by it. We may think of him as "above the cherubim." Absolute reliance on him may find expression in loyal and loving service of him. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: The LORD reigneth; let the people tremble: he sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved.