The Tumult of the Peoples
King David marveled at God's creation. His numerous references to the sea in so many Psalms is clearly a reminder that the God who formed the universe as a work of his hands is capable of being near to us in moments of hardship. In much the same way, the sea was the King's reminder of God deliverance of Israel from their Egyptian captors. God truly could have delivered his Chosen Nation from Egyptian captivity in many ways. King David found comfort in the truth of Psalm 77, our focal point yesterday, that..."his way was through the sea" (Psalm 77: 19, ESV). This morning, while staring at the Atlantic Ocean the words of Psalm 65 touched me, especially verses 5-8:
By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation,
the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas; 6 the one who by his
strength established the mountains, being girded with might; 7 who stills the roaring of
the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples, 8 so that those who dwell
at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the
morning and the evening to shout for joy.
Psalm 65: 5-8, ESV
King David didn't live in royal isolation. He was aware of the needs of the people around him---family, palace guards, his household, military personnel, priests, and the people of his kingdom. Even more were the threatening challenges of opposing nations, the often violent collision of human sinfulness, the crowds seeking to pursue and fulfill their sinful ways, the masses in turmoil. The King knew that the God who could calm and quiet the stormy seas could just as mightily bring peace to sinful, enraged people.
Yes, they were all his creations---the seas, the winds, the rains, the mountain peaks, and the human creature. David's point in God's stilling the tumult of the people is that the human creature is willfully resistant, sinfully self-absorbed, prone to crowd dynamics and the safety of group plunder. King David saw the sea, great and wide, and it reminded him of human restlessness and uncontrolled movement, the tumult of the people. Our mighty God can quiet the noise of the rampaging seas and the heat of human disobedience.
The truth of that lesson gripped me this morning. You see, we've learned a few things about the tumult of the peoples recently. Storming the White House, clashing in the streets, racial tension, election mysteries, political hype, media sway, viral pandemic, rebellion and uprising in the winds. The evidence of an enraged electorate continues to peek through the seams of our governing documents and the rule of law. King David reveals a truth: human systems cannot remedy the tumult of the peoples. Nor government, nor education, nor civic organizations, not even the contemporary, voiceless church.
King David saw the sea great and wide, and he thought of his glorious God. As he rehearsed God's rule over creation he remembered that only God can still the tumult of the peoples. Right now the people can use a little stilling.