The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength; indeed, the world is established, firm and secure. Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity. The seas have lifted up, Lord , the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea— the Lord on high is mighty. Your statutes, Lord , stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days. – Psalm 93:1-5
This psalm is the first of the Psalms of Moses with a water reference. Apparently these psalms, psalms 90-106, were compiled or commissioned by Moses, although the origin and purpose of these psalms is not very clear. The tone and content of these psalms is definitely distinct and they clearly were intended for a different purpose than the psalms I have been navigating up to this point.
If I had to distill this passage down to one sentence it would be “God is mightier than pounding waves.”. This is true in a literal sense as well as metaphorically. When I read “pounding waves” I envision a rocky coastline being pounded by waves…an epic battle for territory between the land and the sea.
Metaphorically “pounding waves” could mean the the constant hammering on our souls by forces attempting to separate us, or keep us separated, from God. The spiritual battle for our souls is not unlike the constant battle that goes on where ocean meets land…beaches.
Beaches and rocky coasts are places of dynamic and sometimes rapid change due to erosion and deposition. These changes can happen both quickly as in the case of a landslides along the coast when the earth gives way to the pounding surf; and over long periods of time in the form of shifting sands and bars.
Both of these modes of change are an apt metaphors for the changes that can happen to the souls that inhabits our bodies. Sometimes life events – “pounding waves” like a cancer diagnosis, death of a loved one, or betrayal by a friend cause rapid and massive shifts in our spirit. These spiritual “landslides” can either be in a good direction toward closer connection with God or in a negative direction resulting in anger and estrangement with God.
Rapid and colossal shifts shifts in our spirit are typically infrequent and dramatic, while slow erosion of our spirits is a constant and in many ways can result in more dramatic changes over long periods of time. The slow changes in our spirit are akin to the shifting sands along a beach which can, over a period of years, result in 100’s of meters of new beach or the loss of houses along the shore.
This process of shifting sands along the beach is the result of a process called long shore drift or littoral drift. As each wave strikes the beach it carries sand up the beach toward land. Since some waves arrive at the shore at an angle to the beach sand grains are carried up the beach at an angle to the beach as each wave arrives. These same sand grains return the surf perpendicular to the beach as a result of gravity. The end result is that sand grains are carried a short distance along the beach with each wave and massive movement of sand can occur over time along a beach. This is a bit like a conveyor belt for sand along the shore. If a jetty or some other feature is placed along the beach it will sometimes prevent the sand from moving causing sand to build up in some areas and to be eroded in others.
I ended up on quite a geogeek trail there but the point is that our souls can be moved by “pounding waves”, both in massive movements and in slow steady movement like the grains of sand along the beach. Stability lies not in protecting the “beach” and preventing changes that result from “pounding waves”, but rather in remaining connected to the Maker of beaches.
Prayer: God it is easy to become discouraged and disconnected from You when we encounter “pounding waves”. Help us to remember that you are mightier than the waves.