The Bible’s Old Testament argues for what we today call ‘monotheism’ by asking a question.
‘Who is like him?’ and ‘Who is like you?’ are the rhetorical thrusts that celebrate YHWH’s uniqueness or, more precisely, his incomparability.
They are foundational questions and, so they generate corollary questions that dive more deeply into the reality they are seeking to define:
For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him? (Psalm 89:6–7 ESV)
Often, as in Psalm 89, YHWH’s incomparability is seen in his faithfulness. We might say, at risk of reducing a large quality to one of its smaller constituent parts, his reliability.
As here in this psalmic celebration of YHWH’s promises of David, so elsewhere and in other times YHWH can be counted on to do as he has said he will do. No other being anywhere, we are told—indeed we learn to proclaim the fact, even if via the enigmatic phrasing of a rhetorical question—is so faithful in remaining the person he has declared himself to be.
We are warned that we will learn YHWH’s faithfulness in violence and in chaos:
You rule the swelling of the sea; when its waves surge, You still them. You crushed Rahab; he was like a corpse; with Your powerful arm You scattered Your enemies. (Psalm 89:10–11 JPS)
The events leading up to Easter must sorely have tested Jesus’ knowledge of his God. Surely, the seas had now swelled beyond containment, surely wave would now surge where wave would surge.
Without limit. Without mercy. With no reliable promise that evil’s tsunami would ever recede or, if recede, leave anything but death and debris where a couple had celebrated 38 years or a child’s laughter had recently rung out.
Surely YHWH, like all others before and after, could be taken. For a price. By a greater power. Or because violence does as ruination will have it do, leaving the gods as pathetic bystanders whom we should never have trusted in the first place.
Then Easter. He is risen.
The awfullest waves, stilled and put back. Chaos, in its finest moment, crushed.
Miy camoka? Who is like you?