The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
The Lord is robed in majesty
And is armed with strength.
The world is firmly established;
It cannot be moved.
Your throne was established from old;
You are everlasting.
The seas have lifted up, O Lord,
The seas have lifted up their voice;
The seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier then the thunder of the great waters,
Mightier than the breakers of the sea
The Lord on high is mighty.
Your statutes stand firm; holiness adorns your house
For endless days, O Lord.
Psalm 93 is a called one of the enthronement psalms, that is, is deals specifically with the concept of God as sovereign over the entire universe. The psalm speaks to God first as praise – “the Lord is robed in majesty” followed by an appeal “the seas have lifted up their voice, O Lord.” At the end of the psalm, assurance in God’s dominion is restated.
Psalm 93 looks back to the Book of Job and forward to the Gospels. It addresses the question that Job put to God, as to why is there suffering, disasters, catastrophes and death. God’s answer to Job is simply: God reigns. God further asks Job “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb. . When I said this far you may come and no farther, here is where your proud waves halt?”
I had the insight in painting this psalm how frequently the psalms elevate the readers’ viewpoint of personal concerns, worries and fears to seeing from God’s point of view. If one were in a hurricane or tempest, then one would experience only chaos. But seen from above, the hurricane’s energy is resolved into an awesome, but orderly, spiral of energy that has direction and even its own centeredness. I thought often how this psalm prefigures the Gospel story when the apostles awaken Jesus asleep in the fishing boat. The apostles are terrified at a human level but Jesus sees the situation from the Divine, and he calms the waters.
My vision of the psalm was that of two energies – a driving chaotic force, and a majestic, stabilizing force would be interacting. The image of a hurricane and the Latin cross presented themselves. Specifically, I thought of the Latin cross as its outstretched arms are capped with ‘T’s and that shape, I felt, could contain the energies of the hurricane. In painting the interaction of the two, however, I discovered that the two energies did more than contest with each other for dominance. I discovered that the cross and the hurricane interacted by embracing one another.
As this psalm is about God’s majesty I conceived of the image on a big scale, and could even have done it bigger. I made several choices in condensing the text, notably, changing the third person ‘the Lord’ at the beginning of the psalm to ‘you O Lord’ so it was consistent. As well, centering the text in the two columns seemed to be important. Finally, repainting the woodblock stamped letters in a reddish copper color brought out the text so it stood with the burnt orange of the cross shape.