You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them. You crushed Rahab like one of the slain; with your strong arm you scattered your enemies. The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it. You created the north and the south; Tabor and Hermon sing for joy at your name. Your arm is endowed with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you. Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord . They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness. For you are their glory and strength, and by your favor you exalt our horn. Indeed, our shield belongs to the Lord , our king to the Holy One of Israel. Once you spoke in a vision, to your faithful people you said: “I have bestowed strength on a warrior; I have raised up a young man from among the people. I have found David my servant; with my sacred oil I have anointed him. My hand will sustain him; surely my arm will strengthen him. The enemy will not get the better of him; the wicked will not oppress him. I will crush his foes before him and strike down his adversaries. My faithful love will be with him, and through my name his horn will be exalted. I will set his hand over the sea, his right hand over the rivers. He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior.’ And I will appoint him to be my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth. I will maintain my love to him forever, and my covenant with him will never fail. I will establish his line forever, his throne as long as the heavens endure. – Psalm 89:9-29
This passage contains references to a savior who will endure forever…reflections of Him. It begins with an acknowledgment that God “rules over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them”. This rich water imagery has many layers of possible meaning.
At the most basic level it reminds us that God rules over nature and has the power to settle surging seas if He chooses. Jesus did just that when He commanded the wind and waves on the sea of Galilee to be calm: “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm (Mark 4:39).
Another layer of meaning is metaphorical. God has the ability to still the “surging seas” and waves and breakers that sometimes come crashing into our lives. This could be things like illness, conflict, the death of a friend or relative, or a myriad of other life events. God has promised that He wants to carry us like a son or daughter through these times.
As long as we keep our eyes on Him we can walk on the waves rather than sinking into them. Peter was doing just fine strutting across the water until he lost sight of the one who was allowing him to do so (Matthew 14:29-32). We are called to do the same.
The passage then begins a circling back to remember God calling on a shepherd boy named David to take on a giant Philistine with three smooth stones and a God who had his back. God promises to set “his hand over the sea, his right hand over the rivers.”. This may be a geographical reference to the limits of this king’s kingdom. This king will rule from the Mediterranean to the rivers of present-day Iraq. Or it could also be a metaphor for God’s ultimate dominion over everything.
This picture of King David and his rule in partnership with God then transmogrifies into a prophetic statement about a descendant of David. A King who will rule forever, Jesus. The covenant with Him ” will never fail. I will establish his line forever, his throne as long as the heavens endure”.
Jesus will walk on water and calm many stormy seas while He walks with the disciples on earth. He promises to do the same for those who choose to faithfully follow Him.
Prayer: God you have the power to calm the storms that sometimes buffet our lives and threaten to swamp our boats. Grant us the faith to step out onto those waves so we can walk on water — with Your help.