Saturday 6th June saw the coronation of Charles III as King of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms, in a ceremony which included anointment, public acclamation and enthronement. These core components of the ceremony can be traced over a thousand years for English kings, and stretch back further still in our heritage to the coronation of King Solomon. A prominent theme in the coronation service is that the King of kings is the Lord Jesus Christ, whom all monarchs are called to reflect, and to whom all must give account. In the Bible, several psalms are written to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ when He is enthroned as king over all. In the following updated extract, David Dickson comments on the kingdom of Christ from Psalm 97.
A kingdom full of joy, majesty and righteousness
The psalmist proclaims Christ king among the Gentiles, and commends His kingdom to them as full of joy, full of majesty, and full of righteousness.
Besides the sovereignty which God has over all people, He has a special kingdom, in which He reigns by the gospel of Jesus Christ. “The Lord reigneth!” (verse 1) The coming of this kingdom makes available comfort against all grief from sin or misery, and gives true reasons for joy and full blessedness. “Let the earth rejoice, let the multitude of isles be glad” (verse 1).
However insignificant Christ’s kingdom may seem to the world, yet it is full of heavenly majesty. The glory of Christ’s kingdom is unsearchable, and hidden from the eyes of the world, who are unable to perceive the things of God unless He reveals Himself to them and opens their understanding. “Clouds and darkness are round about him” (verse 2).
Christ’s kingdom gives no liberty to sin. It is altogether for “righteousness and judgment” (verse 2). There, righteousness is taught to sinners, and sinners are made righteous, and kept in the way of righteousness, and rewarded according to their righteousness.
A kingdom that vanquishes its enemies
After the psalmist has set out how comforting Christ is to His subjects, he shows how terrible He is to His enemies. Even though the kingdom of Christ is a kingdom for righteousness, and a fountain of joy to all who receive Him, yet He does not lack enemies. When He gave the law at Sinai, “fire went before him.” But more, not less, wrath attends those who despise the gospel, and Christ will consume all His adversaries. “A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about” (verse 3), however many there are, and however completely they surround His little flock.
There is no match between Christ and His adversaries. “His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw and trembled. The hills melted at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth” (verse 4–5). However great monarchs they may be, they cannot stand before His presence. Eventually, His judgments on the enemies of the church, and His blessings on the church, shall be so evident that onlookers will be forced to acknowledge God in them. “All the people shall see his glory” (verse 6). Those who serve graven images are reckoned as enemies to God and to Christ (verse 7). God will not have the worship that people want to give Him by serving or worshipping Him in, at, or before images. He wants to be served is by a direct and immediate worship, without the mediation or intervening of anything which may intercept His worship. “Worship him!” (verse 7)
A kingdom to be glad in
All true worshippers can take comfort. God’s wrath against idolaters is certain, and they have clear evidence of Christ’s supremacy over all created things.
Whether you think of the church collectively as “Zion” the mother, or in her particular branches, “the daughters of Judah” (verse 8), they have the same reasons for joy, and the same source of up-building – by God’s word and works of judgment. The manifestation of the gospel of Christ is the exaltation of God, and the manifestation of His excellency. As we grieve when it is dishonoured, so we should have joy when its glory is displayed. The joy of all the saints is, “for thou, Lord, art high above all the earth, thou art exalted far above all gods” (verse 9).
A kingdom to be holy in
Believers, the true worshippers of God, are here referred to as “ye that love the Lord” (verse 10). The love of God must be joined with, and manifested by, the pursuit of a holy life. We must not only abstain from, but hate and abhor, what is sinful.
Perhaps hating evil and loving God will readily make you subject to malice and persecution from the wicked, yet the godly will have their souls saved. Eventually they will be fully delivered from the harm which Satan and the wicked intend to bring on the godly for their godliness. The Lord “preserveth the souls of his saints: he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked” (verse 10).
The complete fruit of their righteousness will not be in their possession immediately however. It is like something “sown” (verse 11), and it takes time for the corn that is sown to spring up and come to a ripe harvest. Yet the Lord sees the heart. If by faith in Christ we have purified our hearts to the unfeigned pursuit of holiness, we are righteous in God’s sight, even if we have many infirmities, and even if we have periods of grief and interruption of joy. Yet eventually there will be a full harvest of gladness. “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart” (verse 11).
A kingdom to thankfully confess in
Whatever our condition in life is, we are exhorted, “Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness” (verse 12). Whatever tribulation the faithful may have in the world, there are reasons for joy in the Lord, and they should make conscience of this commandment to rejoice in the Lord.
Whatever can be taken from the godly, their right and part in Christ can never be taken from them, and so there is reason to give thanks for this gift for ever. “Give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness,” or, “Confess to the remembrance of his holiness” (verse 12). That is, acknowledge to His glory the benefit which you have by being a subject of this king. Whatever work or word of Christ brings us to remember His name, it should also bring us to consider and remember His holiness, the untainted glory of all His attributes – wisdom, justice, goodness, power, mercy, truth, etc – and the untainted glory of His word, works and purchase to us.
Image source: Royal Collection Trust
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