Psalm 147:12-20 (NRSV)
Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
He grants peace within your borders;
he fills you with the finest of wheat.
He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
He hurls down hail like crumbs—
who can stand before his cold?
He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow, and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and ordinances to Israel.
He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his ordinances.
Praise the Lord!
Most Americans are uncomfortable with the idea of a monarchy and do not know what it means to have a king. Our best ideas of kingship come from history, and these historical figures often create a stark image of a person who takes advantage of his position to the detriment of everyone else. In the Middle Ages an ideal king would emulate Christ and, at a very basic level, would have a contractual relationship with his subjects. In return for the loyalty and service of his subjects, the king was to provide care and protection. History shows that earthly kings failed in these two regards. Countless rulers sought to obtain power and wealth for their own benefit rather than serve and protect their dependents through varied abuses and exploitations.
It is because of these past abuses and exploitations that we are wary in applying the moniker of “king” to Jesus and/or God. But we are fortunate in our Heavenly King who is nothing like the earthly kings of history. Our King who “sends out his command to the earth…gives snow like wool…scatters frost like ashes [and]… hurls down hail like crumbs…” protects and provides for his people whom he will not forsake. On Maundy Thursday, we remember the act of our king who humbled himself to wash his disciples’ feet, going beyond the contractual relationships of earthly kings. Maundy Thursday is also a step towards our king’s sacrifice on the cross to save his people from the power of sin and death.
How glorious to be your subject for now and always. Earthly powers are nothing to your divine majesty. We can do nothing but praise you! Renew in our hearts our loyalty to you as well as our commitment to be subjects in your heavenly kingdom. Praise to the true King who conquered evil and saved us!