With the 2020 elections just over two weeks away, I’ve started to see more Christians on social media post some version of this claim: Whomever we elect president, God is still in charge.
Yes, on the one hand, and amen. As today’s psalm opens:
The Lord is king; let the peoples tremble!Psalm 99:1
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
The Lord was king then, and the Lord is king now. As when “Moses and Aaron were among his priests” (v 6a), we still worship a sovereign God. Like Samuel, we can “call on his name” (v 6b) and hear his answer. His decrees and statutes (v 7) live on.
And the Lord will be king in the future. Nothing that happens on Election Day will change that.
On the other hand, saying that “The Lord is king” does not license his subjects to be fatalistic. If we agree with the psalmist that our “mighty king” is a “lover of justice” who establishes equity and executes righteousness (v 4), then what does that make us: passive spectators, or a people called to love justice, seek equity, and live righteously?
In our particular context, justice, equity, and righteousness are not pursued solely through the political means of democratic elections… but they are pursued through such means.
I often find that I understand the psalms more clearly when I remember that they are the songbook of a people, not just one person. If you can read Psalm 99 and hear in it no call to prefer a more just presidential candidate to a less just one, then try listening to it as others might. Hear that God has “executed justice” with the ears of those victimized by sexual assault or police brutality. Imagine what “established equity” means to someone who has lost a steady paycheck or reliable health care in the middle of a pandemic.
For the Lord is their king, too, and he hears their cries.