When Esther and I were studying Russian in Ukraine in the mid 1990s, we had a discussion with our language teacher about the challenges Ukraine was facing after the fall of Communism. The economy was in shambles, infrastructures were crumbling, organized crime was on the rise. As a result, there was a great deal of uncertainty about the future, and, with it, a sense of insecurity and fear.
How to deal with all of these challenges?
Finally, our language teacher concluded, “What we need is a good leader!”
On the one hand, Esther and I thought that this solution was a bit simplistic, even naïve. As Christians, we understand the sinfulness of human beings, and assume the need for checks and balances in government, and accountability at every level.
But on the other hand, we could appreciate the beautiful simplicity of our teacher’s answer. Imagine if there truly was a perfectly good leader who never sinned or behaved selfishly, who always acted in the best interest of the citizens, and who was able to bring about the perfect justice and peace we all long for. It would be heaven on earth! It would be the way things are supposed to be—but aren’t.
The Bible teaches that this longing for a perfect leader to establish justice and peace on earth, will be satisfied. It will be satisfied through the Lord Jesus Christ, who came to earth 2,000 years ago to offer salvation, and will one day return to bring judgment—to set things right, finally and permanently. As the prophecy in Isaiah 9:7 puts it,
Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.
Psalm 97—like the other Kingship Psalms we are studying this summer—is all about the kingly rule of God, seen ultimately in our Lord Jesus Christ. The theme of our series is expressed in the joyful shout, “The Lord reigns!” In Psalm 97, the focus is on the righteous rule of the Lord. To say that the Lord reigns is to say that he is sovereign. To say that he reigns in righteousness is to say that he will sovereignly bring about that which is good and right and just in this world. We can count on it.
The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice . . . righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. . . . The heavens proclaim his righteousness . . .
(Psalm 97:1, 2, 6)