PSALM 97 TALK: OUR GOD THE KING WHO CALLS US TO REJOICE IN HIS REIGN

(A Psalm that explores God’s call to all believers to rejoice and be glad in the mighty and wonderful reign over all the earth and the universe no matter what we seem to be facing at any time in our daily lives.)

 THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

INTRODUCTION

Many years ago through a visiting speaker to our Church I heard for the first time that the Christians who are being severally persecuted for their faith in Christ in other countries in our world today are actually joyful people who are rejoicing in God. This speaker told us of his recent visit to a persecuted church in central Africa where many members of the church had already been either killed or imprisoned by hard line Muslim Government authorities. He said these people where some the most joyful Christians he had ever met. He said that at the church service he had attended he was blown away by the praise and rejoicing they had in Christ their Lord and Savior.

A article I recently read on the Internet probably gave me the reason why Christians who are being persecuted so badly can have this joy of the Lord in the midst of their very real suffering. THe article on the Internet was by Kathrin Britton who was interviewing a man named Carl Moeller about a book he had just co-wrote with David Hegg called “The Privilege of Persecution And Other Things The Global Church Knows That We Don’t”.

In this interview Carl Moeller told Kathrin Britton the reason why he believes many persecuted Christians have the joy of the Lord in the midst of terrible and often painful persecution. Moeller says this,

“The joy permeates these people’s lives in a way that maybe should make us stop and think a bit. They don’t have an economic or political or social bank account that gets bigger in the situation that they’re in. No, they understand that the presence of the Lord, having him and him alone is enough to provide for joy”.

 Nehemiah told the people of Judah who were weeping after hearing God’s word read to them, Nehemiah 8: 10,

“Do not grieve for the joy of the Lord is your strength”.

 I believe we need to live our lives in the joy of the Lord and as Paul says to the Philippians to do in 4: 4,

“Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice”.

 Psalm 97 speaks of rejoicing in the Lord and particularly his reign. Three times we have the command to rejoice in this Psalm. Twice we have the command to “Be Glad” of the Lord and in verse 11 we have these words about God giving true believers “joy”,

“Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart”.

So the central theme of rejoicing in the reign of our God who is king of the universe runs right through this Psalm. This is the fifth Psalm in a series of eight Psalms which feature the theme of “Our God the King” and it will tell us powerfully the role of rejoicing in the Lord no matter what life flings at us which is what God calls us to be involved in.

We do not know when this Psalm was first wriiten but we know it was placed in the fourth book of Psalms, which we believe, was put together around the time of the return from exile in Babylon. This means that this Psalm strikes the note of rejoicing at a time when the Jews had much to rejoice in God for.

Most of the Jews had been locked up in Babylon for 70 years but had now they returned from exile owing to the defeat of the Babylonians by the Persians and the Persians had allowed and even encouraged the Jews to return to their former homeland and rebuild their homes and their worship of the God of the bible.

Through this Psalm I hope we will see how important it is for us to rejoice in the Lord always and we will learn why we can and should rejoice in the Lord always.

With the theme of rejoicing in the reign of God our king my breakdown for this Psalm is:

  1. 1 – 6   LET THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD REJOICE IN THE REIGN OF                   GOD
  1. 1             A call for all the world to rejoice in the reign of God
  2. 2 – 6      Why all the world should rejoice in the reign of God
  1. 7         LET OTHER GOD’S ACKNOWLEDGE GOD’S REIGN OVER THEM
  1. 7a         The shame of worshipping idols
  2. 7b         Let false God’s acknowledge the reign of God
  1. 8 – 11 LET GOD’S PEOPLE REJOICE IN THE REIGN OF GOD
  1. 8 – 9       A call for God’s people to rejoice in the reign of God
  2. 10 – 11   Why God’s people should rejoice in the reign of God
  1. 12       CONCLUSION – REJOICE IN THE LORD

 Lets have a close look then at each of these four sections of the Psalm.

  1. 1 – 6   LET THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD REJOICE IN THE REIGN OF                    GOD

 The first section of the Psalm uses the Hebrew ebrewHeb verbs for “be glad” and “Rejoice” in the reign of God all the earth while the third section starts with the same Hebrew verbs only the other way around. in verse 8 God’s people are called to “Rejoice” and then “be glad”. This seems to be a devise the writer employs to tell us that everyone should praise and rejoice in the God of the bible even though we don’t always do this.

So the first section is a call for the people of the entire world to rejoice in the reign of the Lord and I have broken this first section into two parts:

  1. 1           A call for all the world to rejoice in the reign of God
  2. 2 – 6       Why all the world should rejoice in the reign of God

 Lets look then at the first part that covers verses 1 and 2:

  1. 1          A call for all the world to rejoice in the reign of God

The first verse is a clear call to the entire world to rejoice in and be glad in the Reign of the Lord or the God of the bible. The God of the bible is often called “The Lord” or “Yahweh” which is the special name of God Moses was given and was told means, Exodus 3: 14,

“I am who I am”

 Which literally means God is saying I have been, I am now and I will always be, yes this is the one eternal God who always has and always will reign in heaven and on earth as verse one says,

“The Lord reigns let the earth be glad let the distant shores rejoice”

 The distant shores has been translated Islands but this poetic image represents all the known world of the Mediterranean sea which was all of the world known to the people of Old Testament times.

These distant lands could have had small settlements of Jewish believers but this call to rejoice is to more than just people of the Jewish faith as we will learn from verse 7 but is to the people of the world who the God of the bible rules over. Joseph Benson writes,

“He that made the world, governs it; he that called the universe into existence, upholds and presides over it; and he rules, judges, and rewards, or punishes his intelligent, free, and immortal creatures, whether men or angels”.

 Benson goes on to speak of how the New Testament reveals how Jesus reigns and this is clear from a verse like Revelation 11: 15,

“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.”

 The world of course does not recognize the God of the bible who reigns because it is in rebellion to the reign of God in there lives which is the essence of what sin really is all about. This means that it also rejects that God’s Son the Messiah is now the king who reigns but the New Testament speaks clearly of a day when everyone on the earth will recognize Jesus as the Lord or the king as Paul writes in Philippians 2: 9 – 11,

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”.

Unfortunately for many when that day comes it will be to late to rejoice in this wonderful truth that God through Jesus reigns because when Jesus comes the second time in all his glory he will judge all the earth and the offer of his forgiveness will no longer be available on that great day.

The message then is turn from your rebellion to God and Jesus now and be glad and rejoice in his reign over your lives today before it is to late.

  1. 2 – 6       Why all the world should rejoice in the reign of God

Now in verses 2 to 6 the writer of Psalm 97 seeks to set down why the entire world should rejoice in the reign of the God of the bible who is the king of the universe. He draws on what he knows about God from God’s past revelations of himself particularly from the book of Exodus and the way God led the people out of Egypt and through their wilderness wanderings. He could even have had in his mind the revelation of God on Mt. Sinai.

I see six reasons why everyone should rejoice in the reign of God in these five verses and they are:

  1. God is so powerfully majestic that clouds surround him (vs. 2a)
  2. God’s rule is based on righteousness and justice (vs. 2b)
  3. God is so powerful that fire goes before him (vs. 3)
  4. God is so glorious that he is like lightening (vs. 4)
  5. God is so mighty that he can melt mountains (vs. 5)
  6. God is revealed in the heavens as a great God (vs. 6)

Lets then have a close look at each of these six reasons why we should rejoice in the reign of God.

  1. God is so powerfully majestic that clouds surround him (vs. 2a)

When God appeared to Moses at Mt. Sinai the scene set by what we read in Exodus 19 is very frightening indeed as God himself comes close to the people of Israel to reveal himself. Exodus 19: 16 says,

“On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightening, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled”.

 God is so powerful, so awesomely spectacular that when he comes close in person to mankind he has to hide his appearance by a cloud. Earlier as the people were led by God out of Egypt we read that again his presence is so powerful and spectacular that he has to go before them covered by a cloud, Exodus 13: 21a,

“By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way”.

 So with these two visions of God the writer of Psalm 97: 2a says,

“Clouds and thick darkness surround him”.

 Ancient kings went out of their way to dress in spectacular clothes and present themselves in enormous beautiful palaces to give the impression they were powerful and wealthy so unlike anyone else on earth. Even in recent history kings like Louis 14th of France built spectacular palaces like Versailles, which I visited last year on a trip through Europe.

The palace is so large and opulent it would not have been a comfortable place to live in but the guide told us that the whole point of the building was to show off the power and majesty of King Louis 14th reign.

God does not need to build enormous palaces to convey his power and majesty of his reign. His simple presence is so awesomely powerful that a cloud needs to cover his actual appearance to protect us from being consumed by it such is his power and might.

The people of the earth then should rejoice in the reign of God as king because his reign is all-powerful and spectacular. When I saw the palace of Versailles I was moved to wonder and praise its beauty but when I think of the powerful king of heaven and earth who’s appearance is so awesome it needs to be covered by a cloud I am moved to give him praise and adoration for he is so much more majestic than any earthly king or leader.

The apostle John got a glimpse of the power and majesty of the risen and ascended Christ reigning in heaven and speaks of it this way in Revelation 19: 6 – 8,

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has

come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)”

  1. God’s rule is based on righteousness and justice (vs. 2b)

The second reason the writer of Psalm 97 gives why we should praise and rejoice in the reign of the God and king of heaven and earth is because of the basis of his reign, which he expresses in verse 2b,

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne”.

 The reign of God is so different than any reign of any earthly king because of who our God is and what he is like. Our God the king reigns with righteousness and justice.

I mentioned my visit to the spectacular earthly palace of Versailles last year and even though that building speaks of power and majesty the actual rule of the French kings who ruled from that palace was based on their own inflated ego’s, corruption of the French people and extortion of all the resources of their country to feed their grouse desires for power and wealth. This intolerable reign of unrighteous and injustice ended in the people of France rising up during the reign of Louise 16th in revolution and not only did Louise the 16th and his family loose their lives but his so called divine right as king for his family line was brought to a bloody end.

God’s reign as king of the universe is so different he rules this world in righteousness and justice, as he is a Holy God. John Gill sums up the meaning of this with these words,

“Righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne; the seat, basis, and support of it; he sits on a throne doing right, and by it his throne is established”.

 Gill then quotes Psalm 89 verse 14 that says,

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you”.

 We rejoice in the God of the bible because he is the great king of the universe who rules with complete righteousness and justice and out of this he also reveals his great love and faithfulness all expressed so clearly by his sons death on the cross.

He shows his righteousness and justice by paying for our sins and he shows his love and faithfulness by the giving of his life on he cross to pay for our sins.This then is our basis or cause for rejoicing in the reign of God our Great king and savior.

The apostle John again in his heavenly vision of God and Jesus in heaven says this in Revelation 15: 2 – 4,

“And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given them by God And sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb:

“Great and marvellous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations.

Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy.

All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

The total revelation of the righteous and just character of God will be revealed on day when Jesus returns in all his glory and majesty and then he will conduct the final judgment of God for all mankind and for those heavenly beings who disobeyed him as well.

  1. God is so powerful that fire goes before him (vs. 3)

The second image the writer of Psalm 97 draws from the Exodus experience in the wilderness and particularly at Mt. Sinai to provide a reason for rejoicing in the reign of God as king is verse 3, which says,

“Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side”.

 This could be either or both referring to the account of the coming of the presence of God on Mt. Sinai or the description of how God led the people of God through the wilderness in their wilderness wanderings at night.

The description of God revealing himself at Mt Sinai says this in Exodus 19: 18,

“Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently”.

The description of God leading the people of Israel at night by fire is in Exodus 13: 21b,

“By night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night”.

 The writer of Psalm 97 says that this fire is so powerful that it consumes his foes on every side. The writer to the Hebrews speaks of God being consuming fire in Hebrews 12: 28 – 29,

 “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”[

 One might ask how can the concept of God being consuming fire be the grounds for rejoicing in his reign as king?

The answer is simple for an Israelite because God consuming his enemies meant for Israel that their enemies were consumed and therefore the nation was delivered from their enemies. All through the wilderness wanderings the people of Israel had victory, through God’s help over their enemies. Into the Promised Land and through Israel’s long history God went before the people of Israel in battle to help consume their enemies.

At recent bible study I attended a lady there spoke of the horror of the Old Testaments constant reference to God leading his people to slaughter their many enemies on a number of occasions.

I thought about this later and then realised that this is what happened throughout history, the sin of mankind led Nation after Nation to conduct massive bloody wars that led to the death of many and sometimes the complete annihilation of many nations. Israel only survived for such a long period of history because God went before them to consume their many enemies who were determined to destroy them.

This Psalm was placed in the fourth book of Psalms, we believe around the time of the return from exile in Babylon and this concept of God being a consuming fire as they, not their enemies had just felt the fire of God’s judgment and had also witnessed the judgment of the great nation, Babylon who God had used to judge them.

The writer to the Hebrews speaks of God as a judge and how it is a dreadful or fearful thing to fall into the hands of a judging God in Hebrews 10: 30 – 31,

“For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay, “and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”.

This is part of the writer to the Hebrews warning about falling away from God and he says these very serious words about this also in verse 27,

“Only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God”.

However for all people who turn to God in repentance and faith is God’s deliverance or salvation from his coming judgment as Paul declares in Romans 5: 9,

“Since we have been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath”.

 This is something we should rejoice about and it is only ours because God’s rule is a reign of love and righteousness.

  1. God is so glorious that he is like lightening (vs. 4)

The fourth reason for rejoicing in the reign of God the king of the universe is another observation from the coming presence of God in Exodus 19. I6 when looking at the mention of clouds in verse 2, well that same verse also speaks of God’s presence causing lightening and thunder,

“On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightening, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled”.

 The writer refers to this lightening in verse 4,

“His lightening lights up the world; earth sees and trembles”.

 The people who witnessed this lightening and thunder certainly trembled as the end Exodus 19: 16 tells us. However Psalm 97: 4 could also be referring to all people’s reaction to lightening and thunder. Another Psalm, Psalm 29 was probably written by David when he witnessed a violent thunderstorm that travelled through the mountains of Lebanon down through the desert to the Jerusalem area as they still do today. David speaks of the thunder and lightening being “The voice of the Lord” or like the voice of the Lord.

Referring to the lightening of this great ferocious ancient storm David writes this in Psalm 29: 7 – 9,

“The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning. The voice of the Lord shakes the desert; the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh. The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

 Even today lightening and thunder strikes terror or at least cause trembling in the minds of modern people and I can remember many such storms striking my house over the years as I live in the mountains just outside of the city of Sydney where many great thunderstorms develop and move to cross the city and then move out to the sea.

This mighty demonstration of Nature that God created should also make us rejoice in God the king of heaven and earth.

Even the apostle John saw in his vision of God in heaven flashes of lightening coming from the throne of God in Revelation 4: 5,

“From the throne came flashes of lightening, rumblings and pearls thunder”.

  1. God is so mighty that he can melt mountains (vs. 5)

Then in verse 5 the writer of Psalm 97 speaks of God’s might as grounds for our rejoicing in his rule as king of heaven and earth, he writes,

“The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth”.

 We have seen in a number of Psalms already that the mountains in Hebrew poetry represent stability, they are the immoveable examples of nature as we see in its use in Psalm 36: 6,

“Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep”.

 However such is the might and power of God our king that the mountains just seem to melt away before the Lord as we read in verse 5 of Psalm 97.

This great might and power of God is again a reason for our rejoicing in our God who reigns supreme over all the earth.

Again the apostle John speaks of the great and mighty of this world on the day of judgment, the kings, princes, generals and the rich trying to find protection in the mountains of the earth from God the supreme king and judge in Revelation 6: 15 – 17, but even the mighty mountains of the earth cannot protect us from the power and might of God the king who reigns,

“Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”

  1. God is revealed in the heavens as a great God (vs. 6)

The final reason the writer of Psalm 97 gives for rejoicing in the reign of God the king of everything is the very proclamation of his glory we can all see in the heavens,

“The heavens proclaim his righteousness, all the people see his glory”.

 This verse is reminiscent of David’s famous first verse of Psalm 19, that says,

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of his hands”.

 I mentioned in my last Psalm talk that when I was in my twenties and thirties I wrote a number of poems under the general heading of “Prayers of the Created” which took up David’s idea that the heavens declare or speak of God to us. I wrote the following poem in this series of poem inspired by the principle light in the sky, the sun.

THE SONG OF THE SUN

The light,

Calls me through the darkness of the night.

The heat,

Gives me warmth as I search for light,

The rays,

Soft and golden and full of life.

The haze,

Melting my fears and strife.

 

The day,

Is my Salvation full and bright.

Sunrise

The start of all that’s good and right.

My day,

A chance to learn and give.

God’s sun,

Has made a way for me to live.

 

I thirst,

For the cleansing the sun can only give.

I search,

For a chance to really live.

I see,

A glimpse of paradise each day.

For I,

Can see God’s handy work and pray.

 

O God,

Lead the world to see your way.

O Lord,

Shine upon all and help them understand your way.

O Jesus,

Help us to make the time to pray.

O Lord,

Drive away our night and give us day.

 

God’s light,

Draws me through the darkness of the night

God’s love,

Gives me warmth as I search for light.

God’s Son,

Cleanses my sin and makes me new.

O God,

I sing your song and your son sees me through.

By: Jim Wenman

I look at nature and see its order, beauty and wonderful design and I can only see the clear evidence and declaration of a great and glorious God who made such a wonderful world. Yet so many men and women look at nature and fail to see a designer. They write it all off as an unbelievable accident that only occurred over a long period of time. An accident of colliding atoms that eventually produced our wonderful world so rich and teeming with life.

Why do so many fail to see God in creation today?

The bibles answer is sin has blinded them to the clear and wonderful revelation of God in the heavens or nature as Paul makes it clear in 1: 18 – 20,

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse”.

So rather than rejoicing in the God the king because of the revelation of God’s glory in nature mankind generally denies or curses that God or suppresses the truth of his reign and power.

  1. 7         LET OTHER GOD’S ACKNOWLEDGE GOD’S REIGN OVER THEM

 The last point I made about mankind suppressing the truth of the reign of God the king flows in the middle verse of this Psalm which Allan Harman says,

“Forms a pivotal verse around which the whole psalm revolves”

 I’m not sure about the whole Psalm revolving around verse 7 but rather I see verse 7 as a bridge between the world being called to rejoice in the reign of God the king and God’s his people being called to rejoice in the reign of God the king.

As I said most people in the world at large reject God’s reign of King and in ancient times the replacement idea of the God of the bible being God the king who reigns was the invention of other God’s through idols. First 7 will present this great fact and even suggest that there is a supernatural force behind the worship of other God’s, which we will look at in the second part of verse 7.

So lets look now at the two parts or ideas of verse 7.

  1. 7a           The shame of worshipping idols

The first part of verse 7 says,

“All who worship images are put to shame”

 The prophet Isaiah took great delight in debunking the idea of making an image of a god out of wood and then bowing down to it as God. He writes in Isaiah 44: 9 – 15,

“All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless.
Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame.
10 Who shapes a god and casts an idol, which can profit nothing?


11 People who do that will be put to shame; such craftsmen are only human beings.
Let them all come together and take their stand; they will be brought down to terror and shame.12 The blacksmith takes a tool and works with it in the coals; he shapes an idol with hammers, he forges it with the might of his arm. He gets hungry and loses his strength; he drinks no water and grows faint.13 The carpenter measures with a line and makes an outline with a marker; he roughs it out with chisels and marks it with compasses. He shapes it in human form, human form in all its glory, that it may dwell in a shrine.14 He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak.
He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow. 15 It is used as fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it”.

Note how Isaiah points out like Psalm 97: 7a says that those who worship idols are both ignorant and shameful. They shape something with their own hands then set it up as a god or even God.

Today people practice idol worship in a much more subtle way, people worship money as that is what they live for or their bodies or even worse false ideas about life and God that contradict the very clear revelation of God through his word the bible.

Paul warned Timothy of men even in the very church of Christ preaching this kind of thing and leading faithful believer astray, 2 Timothy 4: 2 – 5,

“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.\”.

My wife and I when we go on trips in our caravan around Australia or travel overseas like to attend a church for worship on the Sundays we are away. We try and find a church that preaches the word of God but sometimes that is very hard to find.

We have unfortunately on a few occasions chose a church for worship only to find there is very little bible content in the service or worse what is being taught is not even true to the word of God itself. Paul’s warning to Timothy was very real and different versions of teaching that fail to conform to God’s word fall sadly into another form of idol or false God worship.

Those who worship other ideas of God other than the clear idea of God presented to us in the bible are as verse 7 says,

“Put to shame”

Which means they will fall under the judgment of God when they die or on the last day when God will judge this universe.

  1. 7b           Let false God’s acknowledge the reign of God

 The second idea verse 7 presents is a more difficult one to explain, the second half of verse 7 says,

“Those who boast in idols – worship him all you gods’.

 This section of the verse seems to suggest that there is more than one God but we know from other verses of scripture that there is only one true God like Deuteronomy 4: 35,

“You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other”.

The answer to this problem could open up a clearer understanding of what Paul meant went he said in Ephesians 6: 12,

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

There is a hint in the bible that what these “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” is what is often called fallen Angels. In the book of Daniel we have a hint of what might be going on in the spiritual world that has an influence on the natural world and we get this from a verse like Daniel 10: 13,

“ But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia”.

These words are recorded in the book of Daniel as spoken by an Angel we believe is called Gabriel (Daniel 8: 16) who had previously spoken to Daniel bringing him a message from God himself. In chapter 10: 6, this Angel Gabriel is described this way,

“His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude”.

Note there is no mention of wings here. So Gabriel was detained in coming to Daniel with an answer to his prayer for we think around two weeks because he battled with what seems an evil spiritual being who had some kind of influence behind the king of Persia.

Maybe what verse 7b is speaking about when it says,

“Worship him all you God’s”

 Is these evil or fallen angels who work for the prince of darkness, Satan, who seems to be the leader of all fallen angels. Satan and his fallen angel followers seek to influence the workings of the Nations of the world particularly to attack God’s people, who are called to worship the one true God of the bible.

However please note in Daniel 10: 13 that Gabriel with the help of another loyal angel of God, Michael was victorious over the Angel of Persia. So verse 7 is saying then that even these fallen angels who set themselves up as gods will be defeated and must worship the one true God of the bible as verse 9 makes this clear,

“For you, O Lord are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods”.

Paul makes the same point in his first letter to the Corinthians where he writes in 1 Corinthians 8: 5 – 6,

“For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live”.

 So far as these battles that are going on behind the natural world having influence on us we need not worry as Paul says in Ephesians 6: 10 – 11,

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devils schemes”.

 So far as the final fate of these, “god’s” or fallen angels who set themselves up as God’s we read this in Jude 6,

“And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day”.

Even Satan who seems to have some kind of spiritual battles to come according to Revelation 20 will end up judged and cast into eternal torment according to Revelation 20: 10,

“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever”.

  1. 8 – 12 LET GOD’S PEOPLE REJOICE IN THE REIGN OF GOD

 The writer returns to his main theme of rejoicing in the reign of God the king and calls on his special chosen people to do this in this last section of the Psalm. I have broken this last section into two parts:

  1. 8 – 9       A call for God’s people to rejoice in the reign of God
  2. 10 – 11   Why God’s people should rejoice in the reign of God

lets have a close look at these two parts of this final section of the Psalm.

  1. 8 – 9       A call for God’s people to rejoice in the reign of God

As I said at the start of the first section the writer of Psalm 97 uses the words rejoice and be glad twice in this Psalm, the first time when he calls all the world to rejoice in the reign of God the king and now when he calls on God’s chosen people to rejoice and be glad in the reign of God their king.

This call for God’s chosen people to rejoice and be glad in the reign of God their king reads like this in verse 8,

“Zion hears and rejoices and the villages of Judah are glad because of your judgments O Lord”.

 Zion is word used to speak of a number of things; Zion is God’s chosen place on earth where he dwells with his people on earth, Psalm 74: 2,

“Remember the nation you purchased long ago, the people of your inheritance, whom you redeemed— Mount Zion, where you dwelt”.

Note, even in this verse Zion and the people God chose are closely linked. Then Zion is the name for God’s dwelling place in heaven, Psalm 9: 11,

“Sing the praises of the LORD, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done”.

Finally as it is here, Zion is a name for God’s chosen people, Psalm 9: 14,

“That I may declare your praises in the gates of Daughter Zion, and there rejoice in your salvation”.

The writer to the Hebrews in the New Testament puts all of these together in three verses in Hebrews 12: 22 – 24,

 “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.

 You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,

24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel”.

So through Jesus and his death on the cross for our sins all who believe in him and what he has done for us are God’s Zion or God’s chosen people.

Verse 8 then speaks of God’s people in another way with the phrase,

“The villages of Judah”

So Zion could also mean those who live in Jerusalem where Zion is located and those who live outside of Jerusalem in the country of Judah are to rejoice and be glad in the reign of God who is king.

The significance of this call to rejoice in the context of at least the time this Psalm was placed in the book of Psalms is that when the people of Judah, the Jews, returned to the land they were to see that their king is none other than God himself and he wants his people to acknowledge this and rejoice and be glad in all that his reign means to them.

The verse gives the first reason why they should rejoice and be glad in his reign with the words,

“Because of judgements O Lord”

As I have already stated that God’s people should rejoice in God’s judgments because when God judges a Nation who is troubling God’s people he is actually delivering or saving them from that nations attacks or threats.

In the context of the return from exile, God judged the Babylonians through the Persian Empire and this act of judgment made it possible for the Jews to return to the land of Judah and to Jerusalem and again build the Temple again on Zion in Jerusalem.

The next reason why they should rejoice in the reign of God is expressed in verse 9, which also makes it clear that what they are rejoicing in is God’s rule or reign over all the earth and again as I spoke of in the previous section all other supposed god’s. Verse 9 reads like this,

“For you, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods”.

Spurgeon sums it up this way,

“Jehovah is not alone high over Judea, but over all the earth, nor is he exalted over men only, but over everything that can be called god: the days are on their way when all men shall discern this truth, and shall render unto the Lord the glory which is due alone to him”.

 The apostle John sums it up this way in his vision of God in heaven, Revelation 11: 15,

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven,

which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.”

  1. 10 – 11   Why God’s people should rejoice in the reign of God

We already have two reasons in the last two verses why God’s people should rejoice in the reign of God their king, the king of everything and they are:

  1. God’s judgments – which for God’s people meant his deliverance from their enemies.
  1. God’s rule over all the earth and even the supposed other Gods.

In the next two verses we see four more reasons why God’s people should rejoice in his reign as God their king.

  1. For he guards our lives (vs. 10a)
  2. For he delivers them from the wicked (vs.10b)
  3. For he shines his light on them (vs. 11a)
  4. For gives them joy (vs. 11b)

Before we look at each of these four extra reasons why God’s people should rejoice in reign of their God who is their King I would like to comment on the description of God’s people at the start of verse 10,

“Let those who love the Lord hate evil”

 The writer of Psalm 97 calls God’s people those who love God and hate evil, which is a neat way of describing what, a true believer in the God of the bible is. They both love and hate but there love is for God as John tells us that we only love God because he first loved us, 1 John 4: 16,

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love, Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him”.

 David spoke often about the love and faithfulness of God for him like Psalm 57: 3,

“He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me; God sends his love and his faithfulness”.

 So even David knew that he loved God because God first loved him and showed that by the way he delivered or saved him from his many enemies. We know that God loves us because as Paul says in Romans 5: 8,

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.

 So we are God’s chosen people because we love God who first loved us but we also hate something and what we hate is evil or as evil is expressed in us, sin, we hate sin. John had a lot to say about this very fact because he was writing against a false teaching that had entered the early church that claimed that because we are body and spirit and the only the body is evil then the body can sin and that does not matter as it is the salvation of the spirit that matters.

John said no, to sin and to not hate sin is to show we do not know or understand the true love of God. Listen to his teaching on this in 1 John 2: 13 – 17,

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever”.

This becomes even clearer in 1 John 3: 11 – 12,

 “For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous”.

So the writer of Psalm 97 is saying the same thing that to love God also means to hate sin or evil and for those who do that the next four reasons for rejoicing in the reign of God applies.

  1. For he guards our lives (vs. 10a)

The next part of verse 10 says,

“For he guards the lives of his faithful ones”

I spoke in my introduction of the many Christians today who face terrible persecution and I have read of how God has helped many Christians to be guarded from death when facing persecution. Of course I have also read of how many Christians have lost their lives in persecution.

Jesus said in Matthew 10: 28,

“”Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell”.

David knew and acknowledged that God was his guard or protector and spoke of this on many occasions in his many Psalms, like Psalm 32: 7,

“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance”.

My song / poem for this Psalm has this chorus,

Yes the Lord is my hiding place

He does deliver me and sets me free

Yes the Lord is my hiding place

He does surround me with his love.

We can and should then rejoice in God because he does guard us, he is our protector because he is our hiding place and in him even in death he takes us to be with him in his eternal home or hiding place as Jesus promises in John 14: 1 – 4,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

  1. For he delivers them from the wicked (vs.10b)

The second phrase of verse 10 completes the idea of why God guards us or protects us because it says,

“And delivers them from the hand of the wicked”

 David spoke a lot about this as well in so many of his Psalm like Psalm 3: 8,

“From the Lord comes deliverance, may your blessing be on your people”.

 Written by David when he was on the run from his rebellious son Absalom.

Or Psalm 7: 1,

“O Lord my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me”.

 David needed God’s deliverance all through his life and his life story is a great testimony to God’s fulfillment of his promise of deliverance for his people.

Again if this was written or even was placed in the fourth book of Psalms which we believe came about soon after the return from Exile in Babylon then the people who first heard it read or who sang it would have actual wonderful grounds for rejoicing in God’s deliverance from the hands of the wicked Babylonians.

In the New Testament Deliverance becomes Salvation and particular salvation from sin and its terrible consequences, like 1 Peter 1: 3 – 6a

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice”.

So Peter says we should rejoice in this great Salvation that will be totally ours in death or when Christ returns. Peter goes on to say that for a little while we might have to suffer but even this is a grounds for rejoicing because of what that suffering produces as he says in 1 Peter 1: 7,

“These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed”.

  1. For he shines his light on them (vs. 11a)

The third extra grounds for rejoicing in the reign of God their king is in the first half of verse 11 which says,

“Light is shed upon the righteous”.

 David famously wrote about his God or Lord being his light in Psalm 27: 1,

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear”.

 God had revealed himself to David and as he went through very dark times God shed light on his path to help him through the darkness he faced as he implies in another verse in Psalm 27, verse 5,

“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon the rock”.

 In my younger days I worked with a special committee of Scripture Union on preparing promotional materials for their bible reading materials and we used for some of this their organizations slogan verse, Psalm 119: 105,

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”.

 We tried to think of how many guiding light examples we could come up with and we came up with four:

  1. A torch (like a lamp lights our path in the dark)
  2. A lighthouse (points out possible danger in the dark)
  3. A search light (helps find things or people in the dark)
  4. A reading light (helps us be able to read things in the dark)

All these types of lights have spiritual application for God’s word, which is how God is our light, and of course the main light or revelation of God is in Jesus Christ himself who made this claim in John 8: 12,

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 This also is great grounds or reason for rejoicing in the reign of God the king as he does not leave his people in the dark but shines his light upon them.

  1. For gives them joy (vs. 11b)

The final reason or grounds for rejoicing in the reign of God the king is in the last part of verse 11,

“And joy on the upright in heart”

 As I said in my introduction it has been found that many Christians who are facing today great persecution have great joy in the Lord not because their situation is not difficult but because they have a greater sense of the help and presence of the Lord himself in their daily struggles with constant persecution.

Joy in the bible is not what people call today happiness and we see in the Psalms of David, like Psalm 30: 11,

“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy”.

 Written by David a time when he had just realised his sin of counting the number of the men in his army, which God told him not to do and this sin caused the death of many people in Israel to die to a great plague. However David turned to the Lord in repentance and faith and God saved him and his nation from this great plague.

Then again when David was on the run from Absalom his rebellious son who wanted to kill him and his family he writes another verse about joy in Psalm 4: 7,

“Fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety”.

Note here David sees the joy God gives him is his assurance of God’s protection and help in a time of great difficulty. The key to the joy a Christian or true believer can have from God is wrapped up in that key word peace which Paul speaks of in Philippians 4: 6 – 7,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

The joy God gives is his deep and immoveable peace even in the midst of difficulty and this is a wonderful reason to rejoice in the reign of our God the King in our daily lives.

  1. 12       CONCLUSION – REJOICE IN THE LORD

I wasn’t going to make a fourth section for my breakdown for this Psalm unto I got to this final verse and realised that verse 12 stands out like a beacon as a fitting conclusion to this particular Psalm.

Psalm 97 begins with,

The Lord reigns let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.

 Now it ends with,

“Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name”.

 In between these the opening and closing verses we have learnt:

  1. Why we all should rejoice in the reign of the Lord.
  2. That we should do this because of what God is like.
  3. That our God is so righteous and glorious he must be covered by a cloud.
  4. That our God goes before his people as a consuming fire destroying their enemies
  5. That our God is so powerful he can melt mountains.
  6. That our God declares his glory in the heavens and in nature.
  7. That our God does not want us to worship idols.
  8. That our God is over any supposed God or other idea of God.
  9. That our God calls his people to rejoice in him.
  10. That our God gives his people love and guards and protects them.
  11. That our God delivers us from wicked people
  12. That our God gives us light and joy.

Therefore verse 12 says,

“Rejoice in the Lord”

 I spoke in my introduction of how many Christians are being persecuted today yet they are amongst some of the greatest examples of Christians rejoicing in the Lord. They rejoice in the Lord because they have to rely on the Lord so much and this makes them some of the most joyful Christians today.

This experience a deep joy or peace is described by Paul this way,

“Transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4: 7)

 When Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians he like the many persecuted Christians today was locked up in some kind of jail and in his letter he speaks of being in chains (Philippians 1: 7, 1: 13 and 1: 17). Yet Paul says in Philippians 4: 4,

“Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice”

 The writer of Psalm 97 or at least its editor is saying to the Jews who had just returned from 70 years of exile in Babylon, don’t grumble or complain instead,

“Rejoice in the Lord”

 And to make sure they understood what he was saying he concludes his Psalm with the words,

“Praise his holy name”.

 May we learn from our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ and from the word of Paul and the author of Psalm 97 to always and in all situations to,

“Rejoice in the Lord”

For as verse 1 says,

“The Lord reigns”.

 I close as usual with an original poem and prayer.

 

PRAISE THE LORD WHO REIGNS

(Based on Psalm 97)

 He reigns, he reigns,

The Lord he reigns

Rejoice, Rejoice,

Rejoice you foreign lands.

Clouds surround the Lord

And cover him in darkness

For he reigns with holy justice

And pure righteousness,

 

Fire goes before, Fire goes before

Fire goes before the Lord

He lights, he lights,

His lightning and thunder is seen and heard.

He melts away the mountains

For he is a mighty Lord

And the heavens proclaim his glory.

And the bible is his word.

 

Refran:

Praise the Lord who reigns

And worship him in song.

Praise the Lord who reigns

And make all idols be gone.

 

Rejoice, Rejoice

Rejoice all people who know Lord.

Be glad, Be glad,

Be glad for all justice will be restored.

Let those who love the Lord hate evil

For God guards his faithful ones.

He will deliver them from the all the wicked

For he considers them his daughters and his sons.

 

Rejoice, rejoice.

Rejoice in the Lord always.

Give praise, give praise,

Give praise to your God all your days.

God shines his light on his people

Gives them joy and peace to always cope.

So praise the Lord those who know Jesus

For he is our salvation and our hope.

 

Refran:

Praise the Lord who reigns

And worship now and sing.

Praise the Lord who reigns

For he is our mighty king.

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER

 I praise you Father in heaven for you are our mighty king who reigns over heaven and earth. I rejoice in your mighty holy name because it was you who sent Jesus into this world to die for my sins on the cross. Jesus is your Son who has saved me and given me eternal like and so because of him I know your love and help in my life to guard and deliver me from all my enemies. I rejoice in you O Lord and thank you for your joy and peace that you give me even in the most difficult times of my life. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PSALM 96 TALK: OUR GOD THE KING WHO CALLS US TO PROCLAIM SALVATION TO THE NATIONS

PSALM 96 TALK: OUR GOD THE KING WHO CALLS US TO PROCLAIM SALVATION TO THE NATIONS

 (A Psalm that explores God’s call to all believers to take God’s message of salvation to every nation in this world. The message we must declare is that God is the king of this world and mankind has turned their backs on God and is in rebellion to God as their king and one day God will judge all mankind for their many sins. However God’s message of salvation says that God has made a way for all people to be saved from his coming judgment but they must turn to him and acknowledge him as their Savior and Lord or king of their lives.)

 THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

INTRODUCTION

Harold Schofield was only 31 when he died of typhus in a remote area of China on the 1st of August 1883. He had only served the Lord in China for two and a half years as a missionary pioneer doctor but he will always be remembered for his well known desperate prayer to God for more missionaries to China as at the time Harold was only one of eight evangelical missionaries with the recently formed mission society called The China Inland Mission started by the famous missionary pioneer Hudson Taylor.

The unique nature of Schofield’s prayer was that he wanted God to raise up saved and committed university men, men who had been equipped at the top universities of England who represented the finest mental and physical training England could supply in his day.

Schofield died a year and a half before God answered his prayer in a most remarkable way for unknown to Schofield even before he started praying this prayer God had sent the famous evangelical Gospel preaching evangelist name D.L. Moody with his music director and singer named Ira Sankey on another Gospel preaching mission trip to England and Great Britain in 1877. On this mission trip an elderly prominent millionaire business man named Edward Studd went to a Moody / Sankey Gospel meeting and was thoroughly converted to Christ. Studd only lived two years after his conversion but he gave lots of money to Moody and others for world wide missionary activities.

Edward Studd also witnessed to his three sons and one of sons was to become a famous English cricketer, C.T. Studd who played a major role in the famous cricket match with the visiting Australian cricket team at the Oval cricket ground in 1882 where after England was narrowly defeated by Australia the legend of the “Ashes” was born. C.T Studd went on the first English tour of Australia in 1883 where it was reported he helped return the Ashes to Australia a small urn containing the burnt remains of a set of cricket bails.

D.L Moody was also used to help call C.T Studd to Christ and he later joined six other Cambridge graduates in 1885 to go together to China as missionaries and they became known as the Cambridge Seven. Some of the other Cambridge Seven had also come to Christ through the preaching ministry of D.L. Moody and the beautiful Gospel singing of Ida Sankey.

Before the famous Cambridge Seven left for missionary service in China they travelled the country attending and speaking at many packed meetings and raised incredible interest and support for The China Inland Mission and led many to faith in Christ and some for many missionary service. Out of this highly successful and well publicized campaign was born The Student Volunteer Movement and The Inter- Varsity Fellowship.

C.T. Studd served Christ in successful missionary service in China for ten years when owing to his wife’s illness returned to England. He travelled widely back home conducting many evangelistic meetings and China Inland Mission meetings. In 1900 C.T. Studd went with his family to South India to pastor a church in a place called Ootacamund which he did for six years.

C.T. Studd went out as a missionary for the third time at the age of 46 to Central Africa and brought the Gospel message to The Sudan for the first time and worked their unto his death in 1931. While serving in Africa he started the “The heart for Africa” mission, which was changed to WEC, World Wide Evangelization Crusade, which was later, changed to Worldwide Evangelization for Christ.

So Harold Schofield did not live to see the answer of his desperate prayer for university trained, healthy young men to take the Gospel message to China in his life time but his prayer or many prayers was wonderfully answered only 18 months after his death. Not only did seven young men go to China for all except C.T Studd spent a lifetime of faithful missionary service China but through the witness and commitment of these seven young Cambridge graduates hundreds and eventually thousands of others went not only to China but many other Nations in this world with the wonderful message of Salvation through Christ.

C.T Studd went to the Nations of China, India and later Africa and started a major missionary sending organization, WEC that still sends today young men and women to the nations of the world with the Gospel message.

This call of God to proclaim his message of salvation is not just at the end of the Gospels like Matthew 28: 18 – 20 or Mark 16: 15 – 16, which says,

“ He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned”.

But is spoken of or hinted at in the Old Testament as well, like this Psalm, Psalm 96. A Psalm probably edited and put in the fourth book of Psalms after the return from exile from Babylon but originally written by non other than King David himself around 500 years before the fourth book of Psalms was put together. We know this because this Psalm is almost identical to a Psalm or song David wrote immediately after the ark of the covenant was taken up into Jerusalem and placed in the Tent Sanctuary on Mount Zion to later be installed in the Temple build by David’s son, King Solomon.

The original Psalm of David was recorded for us in 1 Chronicles 16: 23 – 34 and some modern so called bible scholars who always seek to discredit the historical truth of the bible say that a unnamed writer wrote the books of chronicles after the Babylonian exile and put this Psalm in making up the story of David composing it originally.

This simply cannot be true as many other Psalms and Old Testament scriptures much older than the return from exile also quote or use wording from this Psalm. A big example of this is the book of Isaiah that Leupold points out alludes to or directly uses seven of the 13 verses in his writings.

I will point some of these Isaiah references in my Psalm talk to follow on this Psalm. So Psalm 95 seems to be addressed to the Jews themselves for a call to worship, which also has universal implications. The Church of Jesus Christ being the New Israel of God are called by this Psalm to lead the world to joyful and holy worship of the God of the bible.

Now in Psalm 96 tells us that everyone who believes in the God of the bible and even the very creation itself is to proclaim the wonderful message of God’s salvation which we know has come through God’s great Messiah, Jesus Christ who will come again as Psalm 96 sets out to bring about this worlds final day of Judgment.

With the theme of “Our God the King who calls us to proclaim salvation to the nations” in mind my breakdown for this Psalm is:

  1. 1 – 6   SING AND PROCLAIM GOD’S SALVATION TO THE NATIONS
  1. 1 – 3   Sing the new song of Salvation
  2. 4 – 6   Why we should sing and proclaim God’s salvation to the nations
  1. 7 – 9   ACKNOWLEDGE AND WORSHIP THE GOD OF SALVATION TO      THE NATIONS
  1. 7- 8   All people must acknowledge the God who offers salvation to the nations
  1. 9 –   All people must worship the God who offers salvation to the nations
  1. 10 – 13 REJOICE ALL CREATION IN THE GOD WHO JUDGES AND SAVES THE WORLD
  1. 11 – 12 The praise of the natural world to the God who offers   judgment and salvation to the world
  1. 13 –       The praise all people must offer the God who judges and saves the world.

Lets then have a close look at this amazing Psalm that started life 700 years before the coming of Christ yet it speaks of his great commission to proclaim the message of God’s Salvation tor the Nations of this world.

  1. 1 – 6   SING AND PROCLAIM GOD’S SALVATION TO THE NATIONS

I have broken this first section into two parts:

  1. 1 – 3   Sing the new song of Salvation
  2. 4 – 6   Why we should sing and proclaim God’s salvation to the nations

Lets then look at the first part of this first section of the Psalm:

  1. 1 – 3   Sing the new song of Salvation

Three times the psalmist says, “Sing to the Lord” in just two verses and this emphasis that the writer of this Psalm really wants to promote is the proclamation of God’s great message to the world in song. This is not surprising coming originally from David who is described this way at the end of his life in 2 Samuel 23: 1b,

“ Israel’s singer of songs”

David used music to proclaim God’s message of salvation on many occasions and he encourages us all to do the same on many occasions like Psalm 9: 11,

“Sing praises to the Lord enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done”.

Music with a high note of praise has featured all of the great Christian revivals in the history of the church and as the message has gone out of God’s great love and salvation so to has great singing and music.

What we call the four great Christian revivals can pinpoint two amazing characteristics great preachers of the Gospel and great singers and new songs or hymns:

First Great Awakening 1730 – 1755 – Two great preachers stand out George Whitfield and John Wesley. The music comes from great hymn writers like Charles Wesley and his thousands of new hymns and it is said he wrote 8, 989 hymns in his life time and I think one of his greatest is “And Can It Be”.

Second Great Awakening 1790 – 1840 – Mainly in America this great time of the preaching of the Gospel featured large tent meetings with powerful preaching and enthusiastic singing and revival preachers like Charles Finney. Even in England a renewed emphasis on the preaching of the Gospel and new wonderful hymn singing developed and this is the period that John Newton and when his great hymn, “Amazing Grace” was written.

Third Great Awakening 1850 – 1900 – This is the renewed preaching of the Gospel developed under the amazingly popular mass evangelistic rallies of D. L Moody took place. Here we saw the development of the team of a preacher and a great singer at these rallies and of course the great singer with D.L Moody was Ira Sankey who wrote many new hymns and collected many as well like the famous hymn, “Tell Me The Old Old Story” written by a lady named Arabella Kathrine Hankey in those days.

Fourth Great Awakening 1960 – 1980 – This is the great awakening I have personally witnessed in my life time and featured the international preaching of the Gospel crusades of Billy Graham who like D.L Moody before him featured a singer George Beverly Shea and the revival of many great old hymns and the birth of new ones like “How Great Thou Art”, originally a Swedish hymn by Cart Gustav Boberg and translated into its English version years later by Stuart Hine.

So singing and the proclamation of the Gospel or God’s message of Salvation to the Nations go hand in hand and David knew this and practiced this throughout his life where he experienced over and over again the Salvation or deliverance of God in his life and in his own Nation of Israel.

Maybe after the return from exile the editor of the fourth book of Psalms realised this as well and remembering David’s famous Psalm or song in the first book of Chronicles revised it to also tell his people of his day that they too should sing and proclaim God’s wonderful message to the Nations of the world of God’s salvation of the Jews from captivity in Babylon.

So what does David want us proclaim in song?

I see four things God wants us to proclaim are in these opening three verses:

  1. A New Song (vs. 1)
  2. God’s Salvation (vs. 2)
  3. God’s glory (vs.3b)
  4. God’s marvelous deeds (vs. 3b)

Lets have a closer look at each of these three things David wanted his people to proclaim:

  1. A New Song (vs. 1)

David says in verse 1 as he has said in many Psalms,

“Sing to the Lord a new song”

This is a tricky concept because coming from David, the writer of many new songs we now call Psalms he could literally mean write new songs and sing them but H.C. Leopold points out,

“A new song does not involve the idea of a new poetic or musical composition, but as we Briggs rightly points out ‘a new outburst of song because of a new event that evokes it.”

We might say sing the old song with new insight and new enthusiasm for its content. I mentioned the famous old hymn from third great Awakening or revival and the hymn Ira Sankey loved to sing “Tell Me The Old Old Story” written by a lady named Arabella Kathrine Hankey. I sure the many times Ira would have sung that great old hymn its words for him and his listeners reminded them of his constant need for salvation through the wonderful story of the Gospel a story that is old but new every time we experience its saving and changing power to our daily lives. The words of the hymn go like this:

Tell me the old, old story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
Tell me the story simply, as to a little child,
For I am weak and weary, and helpless and defiled.

Refrain

Tell me the old, old story, tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story, of Jesus and His love.

Tell me the story slowly, that I may take it in,

 Tell me the story slowly, that I may take it in,
That wonderful redemption, God’s remedy for sin.
Tell me the story often, for I forget so soon;
The early dew of morning has passed away at noon.

 Refrain

 Tell me the story softly, with earnest tones and grave;
Remember I’m the sinner whom Jesus came to save.
Tell me the story always, if you would really be,
In any time of trouble, a comforter to me.

 Refrain

 Tell me the same old story when you have cause to fear
That this world’s empty glory is costing me too dear.
Yes, and when that world’s glory is dawning on my soul,
Tell me the old, old story: “Christ Jesus makes thee whole.”

 Refrain

 Tell me the old, old story, tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story, of Jesus and His love.

Tell me the story slowly, that I may take it in,

Another famous use of this term is in Psalm 33: 1 – 3, (also see Psalm 40: 3 and Psalm 98:1)

“Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy”.

I have been in many church gatherings where enthusiastic singing of old hymns has lifted my spirit as I had the pleasure of joining with others in singing out the wonderful message of God’s love, an old old story yet a fresh experience of the amazing love of God in praise and worship. This kind of experience has caused many over the years who do not believe become interested and led by God’s Spirit to find out more and through that come to faith in him.

  1. God’s Salvation (vs. 2)

Then in verse 2 David writes,

“Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day”.

The major message of our songs of the Lord is his salvation which is tied to his name or who he really is. The God of the bible is a saving God, a God who saved his people out of Egypt, a God who saved his people over and over again from far more worldly powerful other nations.

Finally he is a God who through the sending of his son saves all from the consequences of their sins if they believe that his death and resurrection was for them.

As the well known famous John 3: 16 verse says,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

This is our message of salvation that our God the king offers to the world and he calls on us to be his mouth piece through song and the proclamation of his word to bring that message to all the world as Paul says in Romans 10: 15b,

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news”!

The message of God’s salvation is good news as it says your sins are leading you to death and hell but I offer your forgiveness and eternal life through my Son who paid for your sins on the cross.

As the first verse of the great Hymn of Charles Wesley written in the first great awakening or revival says,

“And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?

Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”

 I have sang that hymn many times in Christian gatherings and every time my soul has be lifted as the wonderful message of God’s salvation rings through both the words and the amazing stirring tune that hymn is sung to.

  1. God’s glory (vs.3b)

The message we must sing out and now at the start of verse 3 says, declare, also includes the message of the glory of the God who saves, as the first part of verse 3 says,

“Declare his glory among the nations”.

David knew that God’s glory is wrapped up in who he is and what he has done as he speaks of in a earlier Psalm 9 verse 11,

“Sing praises to the Lord, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done”.

David knew that God was the king of heaven and earth and sat on his throne in Heaven represented on earth by Zion where his sanctuary in David’s time sat and where the Temple sat in Solomon’s time and onwards unto it was completely done away with once the Lord Jesus had come, died for our sins, rose from the dead and went back to the heavenly Zion of God.

This was his glory, his rightful place as the King of heaven and earth and yet this great glorious king so high and unlike anything in this world descended to earth in and through his Son Jesus Christ to achieve the salvation of all who look to him.

The prophet Isaiah who seems to have known this Psalm looked into the future and said this hundreds of years before the coming of Christ, Isaiah 66: 18,

“And I, because of what they have planned and done, am about to come and gather the people of all nations and languages, and they will come and see my glory”.

This gathering of all nations has been fulfilled and will be fulfilled as just before Jesus went back into heaven he commissioned the disciples to preach the Gospel to all nations making disciples of them, Matthew 28: 19 – 20,

 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

This they faithfully started and even on the first occasion after Jesus had ascended that the Gospel was preached by the disciple Peter we read this in Acts 1: 5 – 11,

“Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”

From that day on the declaration of the Salvation of God through the Gospel Message and the message of the glory of God has continued to go out to every nation, even today men and women are declaring the glory of God in many Nations as we live and breath.

However what Isaiah is speaking of in Isaiah 66 about the gathering of all nations to see and hear about the glory of God will come about completely at end of this Gospel preaching age we live in when Jesus returns to earth in his full heavenly glory and gathers all nations of the world together to be both judged and saved. Those who will be saved are those who truly trust in him also called the elect (as it describes them in the referene below) , as it says in Matthew 24: 30 – 31,

“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other”..

Just as the great modern hymn, “How Great Thou Art”, sung by George Beverly Shea in the fourth great awakening or revival declares so clearly,

Oh Lord my God when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout The universe displayed

 Chorus:

 Then sings my soul My Saviour, God, to Thee
How great thou art, How great thou art
Then sings my soul, My Saviour, God, to Thee
How great Thou art, How great Thou art

 When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Chorus:

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin

 When Christ shall come with shouts of adulation
And take me home what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow In humble adoration
And there proclaim My God How great Thou art

 Chorus:

  1. God’s marvelous deeds (vs. 3b)

 The final thing God wants us to proclaim I have already mentioned because God’s glory contains it namely, verse 3b

“His marvellous deeds among all people”.

 I said before that the glory of God is wrapped up in who the God of the bible is or what his character is like and what he has done and continues to do.

In David’s time, David would be thinking of all the marvellous deeds God did for Israel up to the ascension of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. This would include the founding of the Nation through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the freeing of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt. David would also be thinking of the taking of the Promised Land of Israel from the Canaanites and how even God had called him from being shepherd boy to become the king of Israel.

David had experienced already at the original time of writing many marvellous deeds of God as he speaks of in one of his early Psalms, 26: 6 – 7,

“I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, Lord, proclaiming aloud

your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds”.

David often connected God’s marvelous deeds with his expressed character of love and faithfulness as we see in Psalm 57: 2 – 3,

“I cry out to God Most High to God, who vindicates me. He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me—God sends forth his love and his faithfulness”.

The editor of the fourth book of Psalms, who we think lived and did his work on the fourth book of Psalms after the Jews returned from the Babylonian exile probably would have been thinking of God’s marvelous deeds of having their Babylonian overlords defeated and destroyed by the Persians who in turn allowed and even encouraged the Jews to return to Judah and its ancient capitol of Jerusalem.

This also was an act of God’s love and faithfulness, which in the New Testament gets the new name of grace. Paul speaks of God’s marvelous deeds of grace as the basis of our salvation in God in Ephesians 2: 4 – 9,

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast”.

David did not deserve God’s love yet because of God’s love David and his Nation of Israel was saved by God’s marvelous deeds. Israel did not deserve to be returned from exile in Babylon yet out of God’s underserved love God did marvelous deeds to return them to the Promised Land of Israel.

We don’t deserve God’s forgiveness and salvation but out of God’s grace, or undeserved love God has forgiven us and saved us through the work of Christ.

This is what God wants us to proclaim to the world the Good News that salvation has been won for anyone who simply turns the Christ in repentance and faith.

This was the message that came out of all the Great Awakenings or revivals and during the second great Awakening a famous hymn was written by a converted slave trader who became a Anglican minister by the Name of John Newton and his hymn testimony is called Amazing Grace which goes like this,

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

 T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

 Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

 When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.

 This hymn expresses so wonderfully the marvelous deeds of God, which God wants us to continue to sing and proclaim to the world.

  1. 4 – 6   Why we should sing and proclaim God’s salvation to the nations

David kicks off verse 4 with the word, “for” which indicates he is now going to tell us why we should sing and proclaim God’s wonderful deeds of Salvation to the nations. I can see three reasons David gives for us to proclaim to the Nations God’s wonderful deeds of salvation and they are:

  1. God is great and worthy of praise (vs. 4a)
  2. God is to be feared above all other God’s (vs. 4b – 5)
  3. God is surrounded by splendor and Majesty (vs. 6)

Lets have a look at each of these three reasons why we should sing and proclaim God’s marvelous deeds of salvation to the nations.

  1. God is great and worthy of praise (vs. 4a)

The opening of verse 4 simply says,

“For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise”.

 Which is a concept we have seen a few times before in other Psalms like Psalm 48: 1,

“Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain”.

When someone we know or have heard of does something remarkable we usually praise them and speak of how great or wonderful they are and so the God of the bible has done marvelous loving deeds of salvation for us so we should call him great and give him the praise he deserves.

David might have known these words in Deuteronomy 10: 17,

“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes”.

Our God is the king of kings or as this verse says, “Lord of Lords” but note the verse goes on to say he shows no partiality.

The context of this verse in Deuteronomy is how God loved Israel and chose them to be his special people and because of what God is like the verses that follow speak of how God wanted his people to treat aliens and widows, Deuteronomy 10: 19 – 21,

 “And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.

20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.”

Note again they are to praise God because he is the one who performed great and awesome wonders or deeds for his people when he led them out of slavery in Egypt.

We are saved by God’s grace Paul says in that famous Ephesians 2 passage about God grace to do great good works for God, Ephesians 2: 10,

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.

Through these good works for God we bring praise to our God as Jesus declares in Matthew 5: 16,

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”.

We do the good deeds for God because God has done so much for us and in doing the good deeds we bring glory and praise to our God because he is worthy of our praise because of what he has done for us.

The book of Revelation speaks of God and Jesus being worthy of praise. Revelation 4: 11 says,

“You are worthy, Our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being”.

Then in the next chapter of the book of Revelation Jesus is spoken of as being worthy of praise, Revelation 5: 9, here Jesus is called the lamb that was slain referring to his death on the cross for our sins,

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

 So we should sing and proclaim God’s message to the Nations of his salvation through his marvelous deeds in Christ because through that we see how great and worthy of praise he really is.

  1. God is to be feared above all other God’s (vs. 4b – 5)

The second half of verse 4 and verse 5 speak of how great the God of the bible actually is and because of this greatness we should fear him or more specifically revere him. Verse 4b and verse 5 read like this,

“He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens”.

 David had the concept of the Heathen God’s of the Canaanites to contend with usually wrapped up in the worship of Baal, a fertility God represented by a bull like idol. This religion or idea of God was attractive to David’s people because it appealed to their basic drive and desire for fertility for their crops and their families and even involved sexual prostitution in its worship of this God.

The exiles returning from Babylon, when David’s Psalm was reviewed and placed in the fourth book of Psalms also had many non -bible views of God to tempt them away from the one true God of the bible.

However verse 4b says,

“He is to be feared above all gods”

 Even if other God’s existed, and the next verse says they don’t, then the God of the bible is above them or over them, he is the one true God who we have just learnt is worthy of our praise alone.

The book of Proverbs says, Proverbs 1: 7,

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline”.

 At a recent bible study group I attended we were discussing the current opposition to school scripture. In my state, New South Wales in Australia because the schools were run by the churches originally the colonial government when they took over most of the church schools agreed to legislate into our state laws that the churches must have access to all public schools to teach scripture.

Our church along with many throughout our state have sent lay scripture teaches into our schools to teach God’s word for half an hour each week to all children for many years now. However in recent years parents of children in the school can opt for their children to attend non- scripture classes, which often mean sitting in a classroom and doing nothing while the scripture classes are being conducted.

One member of our bible study group said parents choosing non- scripture are choosing for their children to learn nothing instead of their child learning what is their only secure hope in this life and in the life to come.

These non – scripture believing parents not only want their children to learn nothing about God but many of them want all children to learn nothing and they are growing at this present time with lots of political clout to achieve this.

People today are in such rebellion to the idea of a God they would prefer to learn nothing about him in a hope he does not exist and therefore has no claim on their day to day lives. Paul says this about these people, Romans 1: 21,

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened”.

Verse 5 goes on to point out the uselessness of other God’s or even God ideas other than that of the God of the bible,

 “For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens”.

 Many scriptures teach this fact that idols and other supposed God’s are nothing. I like Isaiah’s many references to this and particularly this almost amusing reference about a tradesman making a idol that becomes a God in Isaiah 44: 12 – 15,

“The blacksmith takes a tool and works with it in the coals; he shapes an idol with hammers, he forges it with the might of his arm. He gets hungry and loses his strength; he drinks no water and grows faint.13 The carpenter measures with a line

 and makes an outline with a marker; he roughs it out with chisels and marks it with compasses. He shapes it in human form, human form in all its glory, that it may dwell in a shrine. 14 He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak.
He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow.15 It is used as fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it;  he makes an idol and bows down to it”.

I have only come close to idol worship once in my life and that was to only witness its ridiculous stupidity. On my first trip through Europe we travelled through Spain and visited a beautifully located catholic monastery at a place called Montserrat where there is a statue of Mary called The Black Madonna. I stood in a long line to climb some stairs up to the front of the church were a old wooden statue of Mary with the baby Jesus sits behind a sheet of glass.

However one of her hands is clear of the glass and people kiss the hand as they say a prayer to Mary. I thought of Isaiah’s words as I passed the statue, this is made of wood and crafted by a man yet somehow it has spiritual power and I’m sad to say I saw people worshipping the statue. I’m sure my Roman Catholic friends will say it only represents Mary but the truth is in the minds of many who bow before that statue it is to them like bowing before a god.

Because of the dangers of crossing the line to the statue or idol becoming a god to a person God says in Deuteronomy 5: 8 – 10,

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments”.

So we should sing and proclaim God’s marvelous deeds of salvation because he is not a dead useless idol but the living great God who is so great and powerful we should fear or reverence him and our world needs to know about him as without that they have nothing when it comes to knowledge of God.

  1. God is surrounded by splendor and Majesty (vs. 6)

The third reason David offers why we should sing and proclaim the marvelous deeds of salvation of the God of the bible is in verse 6, which says,

“Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary”

 Some commentators believe David in this verse is not speaking of the earthly sanctuary in Jerusalem but the heavenly sanctuary that the earthly one symbolizes. If this is the case than the splendor and majesty before him is all the heavenly hosts that surround the heavenly throne of God.

Isaiah caught a glimpse of this in his vision of heaven at his commission by God recorded in Isaiah 6: 1 – 4,

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke”.

In the later life of John the apostle he to had a vision of God on his throne in heaven and he describes it this way, Revelation 4: 1 – 11,

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

 In the centre, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

 “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”

 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honour and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

 11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power,
for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

So we must sing and proclaim the marvelous deeds of God of salvation because God is the king who sits on his throne in heaven surrounded by splendor and majesty and he is the one who is all strength and glory which he through Christ offers us the opportunity of approaching him on the throne of grace with our prayers for help and direction in our daily lives.

As the writer to the Hebrews puts it in Hebrews 4: 16,

“ Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”.

We can only approach this throne of grace because of what Jesus has done through his death on the cross he opened up access to heaven through him. Jesus is the only mediator between God and man and that is because it is only through him do we have this access to God as Paul says in 1 Timothy 2: 5 – 6,

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time”.

  1. 7 – 9   ACKNOWLEDGE AND WORSHIP THE GOD OF SALVATION TO THE NATIONS

The second section like the first starts with a three- fold command from the Lord. In the first section it was “Sing to the Lord” three times now in this second section it is “Ascribe to the Lord” three times. In this section we will explore what it actually means to “Ascribe to the Lord and we will also learn of the wonderful connection of worshipping the Lord and how it relates to proclaiming to the nations what the Lord has done for us in saving us.

I have broken this second section into two parts:

  1. 7- 8   All people must acknowledge the God who offers salvation to the nations
  1. 9 –     All people must worship the God who offers salvation to the nations

Lets now have a close look at each of these two parts:

  1. 7- 8   All people must acknowledge the God who offers salvation to the nations

As I have just said three times in verses 7 – 8 David commands,

“Ascribe to the Lord”

This command has been translated in a number of translations as,

“Give unto the Lord”

Which simply means we are to acknowledge who is the Lord and what he is like and of course what he has done for us. This is a call to the nations of the world to worship the God of the bible as the Lord or king of everything and everyone.

So what can we learn from these three commands to acknowledge and worship the Lord?

I have come up with three things we can learn from these three commands to ascribe to the Lord:

  1. Ascribe to the Lord is addressed to all people (vs. 7a)
  2. Ascribe to the Lord is to focus on God’s glory and strength (vs. 7b)
  3. Ascribe to the Lord is expressed primarily in worship (vs.8)

Lets then have a close look at each of these three things we can learn from this command to ascribe to the Lord.

  1. Ascribe to the Lord is addressed to all people (vs. 7a)

This call of God to acknowledge God as the God over all things and worship him that David gives us is not directed to the Nation of Israel but to all the world or as the verse 7a calls them. ‘Families of nations”, 7a says,

“Ascribe to the Lord, O families of nations”.

Albert Barnes points out this,

“O ye kindreds of the people – Hebrew, “Families” of the people: people, as united by family ties. The idea is that of worship not merely as individuals, nor as a mere “aggregate” of individuals united by no common bonds, but as those united by strong ties; bound by blood and affection; constituted into communities. It is a call on such to worship God in their capacity as thus bound together; to come as families and to worship God”.

 Sadly the people of the world have seen the Jews and the Jewish faith as an exclusive people cut off from the rest of the world because they believe they alone are God’s special people.

This is not God’s intention for the Jews as we see in their original call to be a special nation of God in Exodus 19: 5 -6,

“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

Israel was made a special nation of God for good reasons and they were to take to the world as a people the message of God’s salvation. Through them God spoke to the world which is what the term “Kingdom of priests” implies.

Sadly it seems the Jews throughout history heard God say they were a treasured possession of the God of heaven and earth but seem to have not heard or come to terms with the concept of being a kingdom of priests to the world at large.

The irony is that even though the Jews seemed to have failed to be an effective kingdom of priests God still used them and their story as his great message of salvation to the world. Then of course Jesus was born a Jew and through him as God’s Son from heaven salvation has been won for anyone who has faith in him from no-matter what nation of earth we come from.

Those then who put their faith in Christ are part of what the bible calls the family of God or as this verse calls them “The family of Nations”.

Peter picks up the concepts of Christian believers being both God’s kingdom of priests and God’s family made up of people from every nation on earth in 1 Peter 2: 9 – 10,

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy”.

As part of God’s family then Psalm 96 verse 7a is telling us we are to “ascribe” to the Lord, acknowledging as the God of heaven and earth and worship him together which will come even clearer in the next verse.

One of the privileges I have had is visiting Christian churches in other countries and joining with people from a totally different culture and feeling immediately the same bond of faith in the Lord Jesus that I have at home and that makes me not an alien or stranger in that foreign country but a fellow family member of the kingdom of God. Together we worship the same God and acknowledged him as our father in heaven head of our wonderful family made up of people from all nations and walks of life.

  1. Ascribe to the Lord is to focus on God’s glory and strength (vs. 7b)

In the second half of verse 7 David again speaks of acknowledging the common God of the bible we have just learnt is the father of a great family of true believers and he writes,

“Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength”

Spurgeon writes,

“Give unto the Lord glory and strength, that is to say recognize the glory and power of Jehovah, and ascribe them unto him in your hymns. Who is glorious but the Lord? Who is strong, save our God?”

When we worship our Lord and God we need to focus our hearts and minds on who he really is and what he is really like. David did just that in so many Psalms like Psalm 21: 13,

“Be exalted, O Lord in your strength; we will sing and praise your might”.

The old gospel song I love to sing says,

“I am weak but thou art strong

Jesus keep me from all wrong

I’ll be satisfied as long

As I walk dear Lord close to thee”

David knew he was not strong and needed the lord to make him strong as he indicates in a Psalm like Psalm 28: 7,

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped”.

Paul spoke about his own weakness and how he is strong in God in Philippians 4: 13,

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength”.

So when we focus on the glory and strength of the Lord we realise our sinfulness and weaknesses but at the same time when we ascribe to the Lord we also realise that in the Lord we can know his strength and glory in our lives.

Paul speaks of the process of sanctification which I understand is the process of God working in the believer to become more like Christ in 2 Corinthians 3: 18 with these amazing words,

“And we all, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”.

So the process of sanctification is the process of realizing we are weak and sinful in ourselves without Christ but as we trust in him and what he has done for us we gain new strength in the Lord and this changes us to become more like Christ which is an ongoing process in this life.

  1. Ascribe to the Lord is expressed primarily in worship (vs.8)

In David’s third “ascribe to the Lord” he uses Old Testament language to speak of acknowledging God in acts of worship, he writes in verse 8,

“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name; bring an offering and come into his courts”.

So in our recognition of the glory and strength of our Lord we are to perform acts of worship, which in David’s time meant offering some kind of animal sacrifice. It is interesting that these acts of worship are seen as part of our proclamation of God’s marvelous deeds of salvation to all nations.

The Old Testament worship practices followed generally similar worship practices of other Gods in that they offered animal sacrifices to gods which seems part of all ancient religions. However the significance of what Old Testament bible based animal sacrifices was very different than the worship practices of the Nations around ancient Israel.

Gotquestions?org answers the question why did God want animal sacrifices in Old Testament worship this way,

“God required animal sacrifices to provide a temporary covering of sins and to foreshadow the perfect and complete sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Leviticus 4:35, 5:10)”

 Leviticus 4: 35 says this,

“They shall remove all the fat, just as the fat is removed from the lamb of the fellowship offering, and the priest shall burn it on the altar on top of the food offerings presented to the Lord. In this way the priest will make atonement for them for the sin they have committed, and they will be forgiven”.

John the Baptist describes Jesus this way in John 1: 29,

“”Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”.

The tenth chapter of the Book of Hebrews deals in some detail with the reason and nature of Old Testament sacrifice and it speaks of it as only a shadow of the great and final sacrifice to come. Then in Hebrews 10: 11 – 14, we read these words,

“Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy”.

The priest the book of Hebrews speaks of is non other than Jesus Christ who is both the priest offering the sacrifice and the object of the sacrifice itself. Jesus being perfect gives his life as the payment for our sins and in doing so became the perfect sacrifice for all sins.

How then is this part of the proclamation of the message of God’s salvation to the Nations?

Well in Old Testament terms the practice of sacrifices told the world two things:

  1. That the God off the bible treated sin seriously
  2. Some kind of sacrificial offering was needed to deal with sin.

In New Testament terms it says to the world two things as well,

  1. Sin must be paid for
  2. God has paid for our sin by the giving of his only son to death on the cross.

We of course do not offer sacrifices to God any more because the one perfect sacrifice has been offered but Paul tells us the basis of New Testament in Romans 12: 1,

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer yourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship”.

So we ascribe to the Lord in worship when we offer ourselves in service to God and his church and in doing this we are proclaiming to the world that he has saved us and wants to save everyone through Christ who we now serve.

  1. 9 –     All people must worship the God who offers salvation to the nations

The theme of worship continues with the scope of the worship offered being widened to all the earth. Verse 9 reads like this,

“Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him all the earth”.

David certainly did not have the Jewish problem of exclusiveness as he calls now for the worship of the God of the bible to extend to everyone on the earth.

This is a logical way of thinking when we consider what he has already said about God in this Psalm, like verse 4,

“For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all god’s”.

When we consider what the next verse says about all the other so called God’s being just idols and the God of the bible being the one who,

“Made the heavens”

In another sense David is exclusive as the only God who is worthy of praise and worship is the God of the bible but this praise and worship of this God is not limited to the tiny nation of Israel but is something people of all nations of the earth should be involved in.

God is worthy of praise then because he made everything in heaven and on earth and as the next verse, verse 10 says,

“The Lord reigns”.

God, we have learnt from this Psalm already is surrounded by splendor in heaven as verse 6 says,

“Splendor and majesty are before him”.

So verse 9 describes the kind of worship the people of this world should be involved in as worship,

“In the splendor of his holiness”.

What does this really mean?

John Gill believes that this expression is explained by the normal protocol of coming into the presence of ancient kings at the time of the writing of this Psalm and for a long time after. He believes that the past three verses on ascribing to the Lord also become clearer in the light of how ancient kings on earth were approached spoke to and Gill writes,

“This and the three preceding verses there is a manifest allusion to the form of addresses made to kings in the eastern nations; who being arrayed, and seated in a majestic manner, with all the marks of royal honor and dignity about them, whom their subjects approach with ascriptions of glory to them; bringing presents in their hands, and bowing down to the ground before them”.

This is the reverent kind of worship God must expect. We are warned over and over again about not showing reverence and respect to the God of the bible in many parts of the bible. Isaiah warns of the danger of approaching God in worship in a non sincere and irreverent way in Isaiah 29: 13,

“The Lord says: ‘These people come near me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their heats are far from me. Their worship of me is made up of rules taught by men”.

Such was the formal worship of Jesus day as he pointed out on a number of occasions like when Jesus cleared the Temple because Jewish merchants under the control of the Jewish leadership of the time turned the outer courts of the Temple where even Gentiles were allowed, into a market place to exploit would be worshippers.

I like Marks version of this event because Mark pin- points the central shocking nature of the irreverence of this activity with Jesus teaching on why he was doing this startling clearing of the Temple courts with what we call righteous anger.

Jesus quotes from Isaiah 56: 7 and then adds a particularly apt conclusion in Mark 11: 17,

“And as he taught them, he said, ‘It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.

But you have made it a den of robbers”.

The Jewish leaders of Jesus day had turned worship of the God of the Bible into a money making racket and therefore the sincerity of heart so necessary for true reverent worship was sadly lost. This was not only a tragedy for the Jewish worshippers but also God seeking Gentile worshippers who came to the Temple courts to by animals for sacrifice to the great God of the bible.

Paul writing in the first letter to the Corinthians had to deal with irreverent worship practices that had emerged in the Corinthian church. Paul deals with this in 1 Corinthians 11: 17 – 33. Here we learn that the worship of The Lord Jesus Christ through what he calls The Lords Supper had degenerated into a love feast. This corporate meal or feast had gotten right out of hand with some eating well and others not having much to eat at all.

Some participants even got drunk at these meetings and worse the real meaning of celebrating Jesus constituted basis of worship was lost and people instead were sinning in a number of ways in the guise of Christian worship.

Paul lays down the basis for The Lords supper worship ceremony in 1 Corinthians 11: 23 – 26,

“ For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes”.

Paul is setting down this basis of The Lord Supper worship ceremony to help the Corinthian church conduct corporate worship in a decent and orderly way. He completes his word on this with these solemn words of warning in 1 Corinthians 11: 33 – 34,

“So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment”.

Real worship of the God of the bible is both a joyful and serious activity, which is what is behind David’s words in verse 9 of Psalm 96, which says,

“Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him all the earth”.

Note those last words of this verse,

“Tremble before him all the earth”.

I like Spurgeon’s comment on this phrase,

“There is a sacred trembling which is quite consistent with joy, the heart may even quiver with an awful excess of delight. The sight of the King in his beauty caused no alarm to John in Patmos, and yet it made him fall at his feet as dead. O, to behold him and worship him with prostrate awe and sacred fear!”

  1. 10 – 13 REJOICE ALL CREATION IN THE GOD WHO JUDGES AND SAVES THE WORLD

We come then to the third and final section of this Psalm 96 lifted from the pages of 1 Chronicles 16 where we find a even larger Psalm of David written for Sanctuary or Temple worship to help celebrate the ascension of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem.

In this final section of the Psalm we will hear of the worship of the God of the bible of the innate natural world followed by a word of prediction of the coming of the Lord in judgment of this world and its people.

I have broken this final section into two parts:

  1. 11 – 12 The praise of the natural world to the God who offers judgment and salvation to the world
  1. 13 –       The praise all people must offer the God who judges and saves the world.

 Lets then look at this final section of the Psalm:

 

  1. 11 – 12 The praise of the natural world to the God who offers  judgment and salvation to the world

When I was in my twenties and thirties I tried to write a number of creative poems under the general title of “Prayers of the Created”. The idea behind this concept of “Prayers of the Created” was that I believed nature spoke of God in various ways and my main proof text for this idea was Psalm 19 verse 1,

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”.

 Here is an example of one of those poems:

PRAISE THE MORNING

 I love to see the morning, so fresh and clear each day,

Piecing through the darkness the sun sends down its ray,

And I love to see the morning; it is my hope each day.

So praise to the morning,

May the morning hold it’s sway today.

 

A haze of crystal water laps the shores of a tranquil bay.

Reflecting the wholesome beauty of every sunlit ray.

The birds all sing and chatter, their chorus for the day

“Praise to the morning

May the morning hold its sway on us today.

 

And I like to stop and ponder as I read God’s word each day,

How precious is the morning that herald’s in each day.

For the morning speaks of mercy as it drives the night away;

So praise to the morning

May the morning hold its sway on all my day.

 

And in the distant city, soft white clouds seem to say,

“The morning is our vision for in the morning children play”;

And so I ask the Lord to grant me a purpose for my day,

And he answers, “Praise the Morning,

The morning is yours today and every day”.

This rather romantic style poem is an attempt to get one innate aspect of God’s creation, “The Morning” to speak and even offer or at least inspire a prayer. David does the same kind of thing with verses 11 and 12 of Psalm 96,

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy”.

It seems that I picked up the same idea David had of how nature or the natural world can and does speak to us. I’m the kind of person that is not really impressed or inspired by a man made building like a Cathedral but take me to some impressive naturally beautiful place and I can get really inspired and sense the wonder and greatness of the God who made all that I see.

David calls the heavens and earth to rejoice,

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad”

This is a similar idea to what I quoted he said in Psalm 19: 1,

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”.

 Psalm 19 is one of David’s Psalms called a creation Psalm and another is Psalm 8, which starts with the words,

“O Lord, our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens”.

 This seems to be a reference to the stars of the night sky which also can make you think of the greatness and wonder of the God who made all that.

So David wants all creation to sing the praise of its creator so he speaks of the chaotic often-turbulent sea and all that’s in it to again rejoice in its wonderful creator,

“Let the sea resound, and all that is in it”

We have seen in recent Psalms the image of the sea as that mighty untamed often -chaotic place being under the control of the God of the bible, as we saw in Psalm 93: 3 – 4,

“The seas have lifted up, Lord, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.

Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea— the Lord on high is mighty”.

God has something to say through the sea and maybe it is something like I am so great and powerful and mighty because I even control the sea.

Then David turns to the dry land in verse 12,

12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy”.

Isaiah seems to have been inspired by this verse when he writes in Isaiah 44: 23,

“Sing for joy, you heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel”.

Here the innate natural world speaks praise for God’s salvation of the nation of Israel

Paul in Romans 8: 18 – 21 links God’s creation with God’s salvation of mankind, he writes,

“ I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

 So creation itself has been sadly effected by the fall of man into sin and it groans in expectation for God’s total salvation to come as we will see in final two verses through the final judgment of God to come when Jesus returns to earth in all his heavenly glory.

I mentioned before that in my twenties and thirties I wrote some poems under the general concept of “Prayers of the Created”. I shared one of those poems that spoke of praise for the morning. Some of these poems were not prayers of praise but because of the bondage of creation through man’s sins creation sometimes my poems spoke of the negative aspects I observed in the world of nature, which has come about through the many sins of mankind. An example of this kind of poem follows:

CREATIONS GROANINGS

 What has happened to the fields where once the flowers bloomed?

Stone upon stone man has built to feed his greed and gloom.

 

Even in the rugged bush mankind has left his mark.

Paper bags and soft drink cans lie around in every part.

 

Creation groans and suffers pain it often seems in turmoil.

High rise buildings and honking cars all cause our blood to boil.

 

Decay and death have entered into our world and it’s in a mess.

Even though there’s life around bad air mixes with fresh.

 

Creation longs to be released and find its liberty.

One day the sky will crack and the clouds will part and all will be set free.

  1. 13 –       The praise all people must offer the God who judges and saves the world.

The last two lines of my the poem, “Creations Groaning” I just quoted relate very well to the last verse of this Psalm.

Creation longs to be released and find its liberty.

One day the sky will crack and the clouds will part and all will be set free.

This is because these two lines of my poem and the last verse of Psalm 96 speak of the Lord coming in judgment to this world,

“They sing before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth”.

 Christians believe that this verse is a prediction of the coming of the Messiah who we believe is The Lord Jesus Christ. Jews reject the idea that Jesus is the Messiah and apparently one of the reasons they do this is because the coming of Jesus 2000 years ago did not fulfill all the Messianic prophecies.

It has been claimed that Jesus fulfilled 353 (see web page – www.accordingtothescriptures.org) However there are other Messiah prophecies Jesus did not fulfill in his life, ministry, death and resurrection and these like this last verse of Psalm 96 deal with God’s final day of judgment. Jewish critics of Christianity usually point to these unfulfilled prophecies and conclude that Jesus cannot therefore be the Messiah.

However the New Testament clearly teaches that Jesus first coming to this world was not to judge the world but to save it. The verse in John’s Gospel that follows the famous John 3:16 about how God sent Jesus into the world to save those who believe in him says this, John 3:17,

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him”.

Jewish critics would say this is a cop out to cover up the deficiencies of Jesus as the Messiah but most of the 353 Old Testament prophecies Jesus fulfilled deal with the Messiah’s role as a savior of mankind like, Isaiah 53: 5,

“But he was pieced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed”.

This is not a cop out as the Messiah was predicted in the Old Testament to come as our savior from our sins. However he is also predicted as the great bringer of judgment as this final verse of Psalm 96 says,

“He comes to judge the earth”.

 Jesus himself explains how he is both the world’s savior and Judge in John 12: 44 – 48,

Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

 47 “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day”.

Jesus speaks, however in a number of places of a second coming to this world and in that second coming he will come as the judging Messiah. As we see for instance in Matthew 25: 31 – 32,

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats”.

 So why have at least 2,000 years, maybe more between these comings of Christ?

The answer to that is God does not want anyone to perish and now through what his son, the saving Messiah he can offer salvation to avoid his judgement. Peter speaks of this very issue in 2 Peter 3: 8 – 9,

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”.

 We then are living in a special age of God, which has been called “The Gospel Age” where we are called to, like verse 3 of this Psalm says,

“Declare his glory among the Nations, his marvellous deeds among all people”.

 So creation, Paul says in Romans 8: 22 is groaning awaiting God’s final judgment to come to free it like us from the bondage of sin. This is how I understand what the start of Psalm 96 verse 13 is saying in the words,

“They sing before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth”.

 The final words of the Psalm tells us how God will judge the earth,

He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth”.

 Albert Barnes explains these final words of the Psalm this way,

“The allusion would seem to be to some future time when God would come to reign among people; to dispense justice; to vindicate his people, and to establish truth”.

 This again seems to me to be yet another Old Testament prophecy of the coming of the great Messiah king who again I believe is The Jesus Christ. Not Christ in his first coming but Christ in his second and final coming to this world when the Gospel age is ended and Christ comes from heaven to reign on earth as the great judge of all the earth as we read of in Revelation 20: 11 – 15,

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire”.

Unto that great day comes we are to follow the command of Christ as he gave us all in Mark 16: 15 – 16,

“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned”.

These words are mirrored by the opening three verses of this Psalm, which read this way,

“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples”.

I close as usual with an original poem and a prayer,

PREACH HIS GOSPEL NOW

(Based on Mark 16: 15 – 16 and Psalm 96)

 

Go into the world

And preach the Gospel Now

Tell all creation

Of his mighty saving power

 

Sing this brand new song

Sing to all the earth

Sing of his salvation

When God’s Son came to earth.

 

Chorus:

Our God is so great

So worthy of praise each hour

He reigns supreme

We must preach his Gospel now.

 

Who ever believes

And is baptised will be saved.

For we must give God the praise

When we remember what he has made.

 

Say to all the world

That our God surely does reign.

His judgments are fair

And we must praise his mighty name.

 

Chorus:

Our God is so great

So worthy of praise each hour

He reigns supreme

We must preach his Gospel now.

 

If you don’t believe

Your sin has condemned you.

For the heavens and earth rejoice

In the God they know is true.

 

The trees and the forests sing

Of the Lord who is surely coming

To Judge all the earth

And to do away with sin.

 

Chorus:

Our God is so great

So worthy of praise each hour

He reigns supreme

We must preach his Gospel now.

 

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

 Dear Father in heaven I thank you for your great and wonderful message of the Gospel, which came to us by the coming of your only Son Jesus Christ to our world. The Gospel message tells us that we are sinners and are all under your just and righteous judgment. But your Gospel message also tells us that through the death of your Son, Jesus Christ we can know your amazing forgiveness if we would but turn from our sin and accept what Jesus has done for us. Help us to take this Gospel message to the world as you have commanded us to do and may many come to know your love through the message of your Gospel. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

 

PSALM 96 TALK: OUR GOD THE KING WHO CALLS US TO PROCLAIM SALVATION TO THE NATIONS

 

(A Psalm that explores God’s call to all believers to take God’s message of salvation to every nation in this world. The message we must declare is that God is the king of this world and mankind has turned their backs on God and is in rebellion to God as their king and one day God will judge all mankind for their many sins. However God’s message of salvation says that God has made a way for all people to be saved from his coming judgment but they must turn to him and acknowledge him as their Savior and Lord or king of their lives.)

 

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Harold Schofield was only 31 when he died of typhus in a remote area of China on the 1st of August 1883. He had only served the Lord in China for two and a half years as a missionary pioneer doctor but he will always be remembered for his well known desperate prayer to God for more missionaries to China as at the time Harold was only one of eight evangelical missionaries with the recently formed mission society called The China Inland Mission started by the famous missionary pioneer Hudson Taylor.

 

The unique nature of Schofield’s prayer was that he wanted God to raise up saved and committed university men, men who had been equipped at the top universities of England who represented the finest mental and physical training England could supply in his day.

 

Schofield died a year and a half before God answered his prayer in a most remarkable way for unknown to Schofield even before he started praying this prayer God had sent the famous evangelical Gospel preaching evangelist name D.L. Moody with his music director and singer named Ira Sankey on another Gospel preaching mission trip to England and Great Britain in 1877. On this mission trip an elderly prominent millionaire business man named Edward Studd went to a Moody / Sankey Gospel meeting and was thoroughly converted to Christ. Studd only lived two years after his conversion but he gave lots of money to Moody and others for world wide missionary activities.

 

Edward Studd also witnessed to his three sons and one of sons was to become a famous English cricketer, C.T. Studd who played a major role in the famous cricket match with the visiting Australian cricket team at the Oval cricket ground in 1882 where after England was narrowly defeated by Australia the legend of the “Ashes” was born. C.T Studd went on the first English tour of Australia in 1883 where it was reported he helped return the Ashes to Australia a small urn containing the burnt remains of a set of cricket bails.

 

D.L Moody was also used to help call C.T Studd to Christ and he later joined six other Cambridge graduates in 1885 to go together to China as missionaries and they became known as the Cambridge Seven. Some of the other Cambridge Seven had also come to Christ through the preaching ministry of D.L. Moody and the beautiful Gospel singing of Ida Sankey.

 

Before the famous Cambridge Seven left for missionary service in China they travelled the country attending and speaking at many packed meetings and raised incredible interest and support for The China Inland Mission and led many to faith in Christ and some for many missionary service. Out of this highly successful and well publicized campaign was born The Student Volunteer Movement and The Inter- Varsity Fellowship.

 

C.T. Studd served Christ in successful missionary service in China for ten years when owing to his wife’s illness returned to England. He travelled widely back home conducting many evangelistic meetings and China Inland Mission meetings. In 1900 C.T. Studd went with his family to South India to pastor a church in a place called Ootacamund which he did for six years.

 

C.T. Studd went out as a missionary for the third time at the age of 46 to Central Africa and brought the Gospel message to The Sudan for the first time and worked their unto his death in 1931. While serving in Africa he started the “The heart for Africa” mission, which was changed to WEC, World Wide Evangelization Crusade, which was later, changed to Worldwide Evangelization for Christ.

 

So Harold Schofield did not live to see the answer of his desperate prayer for university trained, healthy young men to take the Gospel message to China in his life time but his prayer or many prayers was wonderfully answered only 18 months after his death. Not only did seven young men go to China for all except C.T Studd spent a lifetime of faithful missionary service China but through the witness and commitment of these seven young Cambridge graduates hundreds and eventually thousands of others went not only to China but many other Nations in this world with the wonderful message of Salvation through Christ.

 

C.T Studd went to the Nations of China, India and later Africa and started a major missionary sending organization, WEC that still sends today young men and women to the nations of the world with the Gospel message.

 

This call of God to proclaim his message of salvation is not just at the end of the Gospels like Matthew 28: 18 – 20 or Mark 16: 15 – 16, which says,

 

“ He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned”.

 

But is spoken of or hinted at in the Old Testament as well, like this Psalm, Psalm 96. A Psalm probably edited and put in the fourth book of Psalms after the return from exile from Babylon but originally written by non other than King David himself around 500 years before the fourth book of Psalms was put together. We know this because this Psalm is almost identical to a Psalm or song David wrote immediately after the ark of the covenant was taken up into Jerusalem and placed in the Tent Sanctuary on Mount Zion to later be installed in the Temple build by David’s son, King Solomon.

 

The original Psalm of David was recorded for us in 1 Chronicles 16: 23 – 34 and some modern so called bible scholars who always seek to discredit the historical truth of the bible say that a unnamed writer wrote the books of chronicles after the Babylonian exile and put this Psalm in making up the story of David composing it originally.

 

 

This simply cannot be true as many other Psalms and Old Testament scriptures much older than the return from exile also quote or use wording from this Psalm. A big example of this is the book of Isaiah that Leupold points out alludes to or directly uses seven of the 13 verses in his writings.

 

I will point some of these Isaiah references in my Psalm talk to follow on this Psalm. So Psalm 95 seems to be addressed to the Jews themselves for a call to worship, which also has universal implications. The Church of Jesus Christ being the New Israel of God are called by this Psalm to lead the world to joyful and holy worship of the God of the bible.

 

Now in Psalm 96 tells us that everyone who believes in the God of the bible and even the very creation itself is to proclaim the wonderful message of God’s salvation which we know has come through God’s great Messiah, Jesus Christ who will come again as Psalm 96 sets out to bring about this worlds final day of Judgment.

 

With the theme of “Our God the King who calls us to proclaim salvation to the nations” in mind my breakdown for this Psalm is:

 

  1. 1 – 6   SING AND PROCLAIM GOD’S SALVATION TO THE NATIONS

 

  1. 1 – 3   Sing the new song of Salvation
  2. 4 – 6   Why we should sing and proclaim God’s salvation to the

                           nations

 

  1. 7 – 9   ACKNOWLEDGE AND WORSHIP THE GOD OF SALVATION TO THE

               NATIONS

 

  1. 7- 8   All people must acknowledge the God who offers salvation to

                         the nations

  1. 9 –   All people must worship the God who offers salvation to the

                         nations

 

  1. 10 – 13 REJOICE ALL CREATION IN THE GOD WHO JUDGES AND SAVES

                 THE WORLD

 

  1. 11 – 12 The praise of the natural world to the God who offers

             judgment and salvation to the world

  1. 13 –       The praise all people must offer the God who judges and

                             saves the world.

 

Lets then have a close look at this amazing Psalm that started life 700 years before the coming of Christ yet it speaks of his great commission to proclaim the message of God’s Salvation tor the Nations of this world.

 

  1. 1 – 6   SING AND PROCLAIM GOD’S SALVATION TO THE NATIONS

 

I have broken this first section into two parts:

 

  1. 1 – 3   Sing the new song of Salvation
  2. 4 – 6   Why we should sing and proclaim God’s salvation to the

                           nations

 

Lets then look at the first part of this first section of the Psalm:

 

  1. 1 – 3   Sing the new song of Salvation

 

Three times the psalmist says, “Sing to the Lord” in just two verses and this emphasis that the writer of this Psalm really wants to promote is the proclamation of God’s great message to the world in song. This is not surprising coming originally from David who is described this way at the end of his life in 2 Samuel 23: 1b,

 

“ Israel’s singer of songs”

 

David used music to proclaim God’s message of salvation on many occasions and he encourages us all to do the same on many occasions like Psalm 9: 11,

 

“Sing praises to the Lord enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done”.

 

Music with a high note of praise has featured all of the great Christian revivals in the history of the church and as the message has gone out of God’s great love and salvation so to has great singing and music.

 

What we call the four great Christian revivals can pinpoint two amazing characteristics great preachers of the Gospel and great singers and new songs or hymns:

 

First Great Awakening 1730 – 1755 – Two great preachers stand out George Whitfield and John Wesley. The music comes from great hymn writers like Charles Wesley and his thousands of new hymns and it is said he wrote 8, 989 hymns in his life time and I think one of his greatest is “And Can It Be”.

 

Second Great Awakening 1790 – 1840 – Mainly in America this great time of the preaching of the Gospel featured large tent meetings with powerful preaching and enthusiastic singing and revival preachers like Charles Finney. Even in England a renewed emphasis on the preaching of the Gospel and new wonderful hymn singing developed and this is the period that John Newton and when his great hymn, “Amazing Grace” was written.

 

Third Great Awakening 1850 – 1900 – This is the renewed preaching of the Gospel developed under the amazingly popular mass evangelistic rallies of D. L Moody took place. Here we saw the development of the team of a preacher and a great singer at these rallies and of course the great singer with D.L Moody was Ira Sankey who wrote many new hymns and collected many as well like the famous hymn, “Tell Me The Old Old Story” written by a lady named Arabella Kathrine Hankey in those days.

 

Fourth Great Awakening 1960 – 1980 – This is the great awakening I have personally witnessed in my life time and featured the international preaching of the Gospel crusades of Billy Graham who like D.L Moody before him featured a singer George Beverly Shea and the revival of many great old hymns and the birth of new ones like “How Great Thou Art”, originally a Swedish hymn by Cart Gustav Boberg and translated into its English version years later by Stuart Hine.

 

 

 

So singing and the proclamation of the Gospel or God’s message of Salvation to the Nations go hand in hand and David knew this and practiced this throughout his life where he experienced over and over again the Salvation or deliverance of God in his life and in his own Nation of Israel.

 

Maybe after the return from exile the editor of the fourth book of Psalms realised this as well and remembering David’s famous Psalm or song in the first book of Chronicles revised it to also tell his people of his day that they too should sing and proclaim God’s wonderful message to the Nations of the world of God’s salvation of the Jews from captivity in Babylon.

 

So what does David want us proclaim in song?

 

I see four things God wants us to proclaim are in these opening three verses:

 

  1. A New Song (vs. 1)
  2. God’s Salvation (vs. 2)
  3. God’s glory (vs.3b)
  4. God’s marvelous deeds (vs. 3b)

 

Lets have a closer look at each of these three things David wanted his people to proclaim:

 

  1. A New Song (vs. 1)

 

David says in verse 1 as he has said in many Psalms,

 

“Sing to the Lord a new song”

 

This is a tricky concept because coming from David, the writer of many new songs we now call Psalms he could literally mean write new songs and sing them but H.C. Leopold points out,

 

“A new song does not involve the idea of a new poetic or musical composition, but as we Briggs rightly points out ‘a new outburst of song because of a new event that evokes it.”

 

We might say sing the old song with new insight and new enthusiasm for its content. I mentioned the famous old hymn from third great Awakening or revival and the hymn Ira Sankey loved to sing “Tell Me The Old Old Story” written by a lady named Arabella Kathrine Hankey. I sure the many times Ira would have sung that great old hymn its words for him and his listeners reminded them of his constant need for salvation through the wonderful story of the Gospel a story that is old but new every time we experience its saving and changing power to our daily lives. The words of the hymn go like this:

 

Tell me the old, old story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
Tell me the story simply, as to a little child,
For I am weak and weary, and helpless and defiled.

 

 

 

Refrain

Tell me the old, old story, tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story, of Jesus and His love.

Tell me the story slowly, that I may take it in,

 

Tell me the story slowly, that I may take it in,
That wonderful redemption, God’s remedy for sin.
Tell me the story often, for I forget so soon;
The early dew of morning has passed away at noon.

 

Refrain

 

Tell me the story softly, with earnest tones and grave;
Remember I’m the sinner whom Jesus came to save.
Tell me the story always, if you would really be,
In any time of trouble, a comforter to me.

 

Refrain

 

Tell me the same old story when you have cause to fear
That this world’s empty glory is costing me too dear.
Yes, and when that world’s glory is dawning on my soul,
Tell me the old, old story: “Christ Jesus makes thee whole.”

 

Refrain

 

Tell me the old, old story, tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story, of Jesus and His love.

Tell me the story slowly, that I may take it in,

 

Another famous use of this term is in Psalm 33: 1 – 3, (also see Psalm 40: 3 and Psalm 98:1)

 

“Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy”.

 

I have been in many church gatherings where enthusiastic singing of old hymns has lifted my spirit as I had the pleasure of joining with others in singing out the wonderful message of God’s love, an old old story yet a fresh experience of the amazing love of God in praise and worship. This kind of experience has caused many over the years who do not believe become interested and led by God’s Spirit to find out more and through that come to faith in him.

 

  1. God’s Salvation (vs. 2)

 

Then in verse 2 David writes,

 

“Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day”.

 

The major message of our songs of the Lord is his salvation which is tied to his name or who he really is. The God of the bible is a saving God, a God who saved his people out of Egypt, a God who saved his people over and over again from far more worldly powerful other nations.

Finally he is a God who through the sending of his son saves all from the consequences of their sins if they believe that his death and resurrection was for them.

 

As the well known famous John 3: 16 verse says,

 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

 

This is our message of salvation that our God the king offers to the world and he calls on us to be his mouth piece through song and the proclamation of his word to bring that message to all the world as Paul says in Romans 10: 15b,

 

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news”!

 

The message of God’s salvation is good news as it says your sins are leading you to death and hell but I offer your forgiveness and eternal life through my Son who paid for your sins on the cross.

 

As the first verse of the great Hymn of Charles Wesley written in the first great awakening or revival says,

 

“And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?


Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”

 

I have sang that hymn many times in Christian gatherings and every time my soul has be lifted as the wonderful message of God’s salvation rings through both the words and the amazing stirring tune that hymn is sung to.

 

  1. God’s glory (vs.3b)

 

The message we must sing out and now at the start of verse 3 says, declare, also includes the message of the glory of the God who saves, as the first part of verse 3 says,

 

“Declare his glory among the nations”.

 

David knew that God’s glory is wrapped up in who he is and what he has done as he speaks of in a earlier Psalm 9 verse 11,

 

“Sing praises to the Lord, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done”.

 

 

 

 

David knew that God was the king of heaven and earth and sat on his throne in Heaven represented on earth by Zion where his sanctuary in David’s time sat and where the Temple sat in Solomon’s time and onwards unto it was completely done away with once the Lord Jesus had come, died for our sins, rose from the dead and went back to the heavenly Zion of God.

 

This was his glory, his rightful place as the King of heaven and earth and yet this great glorious king so high and unlike anything in this world descended to earth in and through his Son Jesus Christ to achieve the salvation of all who look to him.

 

The prophet Isaiah who seems to have known this Psalm looked into the future and said this hundreds of years before the coming of Christ, Isaiah 66: 18,

 

“And I, because of what they have planned and done, am about to come and gather the people of all nations and languages, and they will come and see my glory”.

 

This gathering of all nations has been fulfilled and will be fulfilled as just before Jesus went back into heaven he commissioned the disciples to preach the Gospel to all nations making disciples of them, Matthew 28: 19 – 20,

 

 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 

This they faithfully started and even on the first occasion after Jesus had ascended that the Gospel was preached by the disciple Peter we read this in Acts 1: 5 – 11,

 

“Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”

        

From that day on the declaration of the Salvation of God through the Gospel Message and the message of the glory of God has continued to go out to every nation, even today men and women are declaring the glory of God in many Nations as we live and breath.

 

However what Isaiah is speaking of in Isaiah 66 about the gathering of all nations to see and hear about the glory of God will come about completely at end of this Gospel preaching age we live in when Jesus returns to earth in his full heavenly glory and gathers all nations of the world together to be both judged and saved. Those who will be saved are those who truly trust in him also called the elect (as it describes them in the referene below) , as it says in Matthew 24: 30 – 31,

 

“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other”..

Just as the great modern hymn, “How Great Thou Art”, sung by George Beverly Shea in the fourth great awakening or revival declares so clearly,

 

Oh Lord my God when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout The universe displayed

 

Chorus:

 

Then sings my soul My Saviour, God, to Thee
How great thou art, How great thou art
Then sings my soul, My Saviour, God, to Thee
How great Thou art, How great Thou art

 

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Chorus:

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin

 

When Christ shall come with shouts of adulation
And take me home what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow In humble adoration
And there proclaim My God How great Thou art

 

Chorus:

 

  1. God’s marvelous deeds (vs. 3b)

 

The final thing God wants us to proclaim I have already mentioned because God’s glory contains it namely, verse 3b

 

“His marvellous deeds among all people”.

 

I said before that the glory of God is wrapped up in who the God of the bible is or what his character is like and what he has done and continues to do.

 

In David’s time, David would be thinking of all the marvellous deeds God did for Israel up to the ascension of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. This would include the founding of the Nation through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the freeing of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt. David would also be thinking of the taking of the Promised Land of Israel from the Canaanites and how even God had called him from being shepherd boy to become the king of Israel.

 

David had experienced already at the original time of writing many marvellous deeds of God as he speaks of in one of his early Psalms, 26: 6 – 7,

 

“I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, Lord, proclaiming aloud

your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds”.

 

David often connected God’s marvelous deeds with his expressed character of love and faithfulness as we see in Psalm 57: 2 – 3,

 

“I cry out to God Most High to God, who vindicates me. He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me—God sends forth his love and his faithfulness”.

 

The editor of the fourth book of Psalms, who we think lived and did his work on the fourth book of Psalms after the Jews returned from the Babylonian exile probably would have been thinking of God’s marvelous deeds of having their Babylonian overlords defeated and destroyed by the Persians who in turn allowed and even encouraged the Jews to return to Judah and its ancient capitol of Jerusalem.

 

This also was an act of God’s love and faithfulness, which in the New Testament gets the new name of grace. Paul speaks of God’s marvelous deeds of grace as the basis of our salvation in God in Ephesians 2: 4 – 9,

 

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast”.

 

David did not deserve God’s love yet because of God’s love David and his Nation of Israel was saved by God’s marvelous deeds. Israel did not deserve to be returned from exile in Babylon yet out of God’s underserved love God did marvelous deeds to return them to the Promised Land of Israel.

 

We don’t deserve God’s forgiveness and salvation but out of God’s grace, or undeserved love God has forgiven us and saved us through the work of Christ.

 

This is what God wants us to proclaim to the world the Good News that salvation has been won for anyone who simply turns the Christ in repentance and faith.

 

This was the message that came out of all the Great Awakenings or revivals and during the second great Awakening a famous hymn was written by a converted slave trader who became a Anglican minister by the Name of John Newton and his hymn testimony is called Amazing Grace which goes like this,

 

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

 

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

 

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

 

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.

 

This hymn expresses so wonderfully the marvelous deeds of God, which God wants us to continue to sing and proclaim to the world.

 

  1. 4 – 6   Why we should sing and proclaim God’s salvation to the

                          nations

 

David kicks off verse 4 with the word, “for” which indicates he is now going to tell us why we should sing and proclaim God’s wonderful deeds of Salvation to the nations. I can see three reasons David gives for us to proclaim to the Nations God’s wonderful deeds of salvation and they are:

 

  1. God is great and worthy of praise (vs. 4a)
  2. God is to be feared above all other God’s (vs. 4b – 5)
  3. God is surrounded by splendor and Majesty (vs. 6)

 

Lets have a look at each of these three reasons why we should sing and proclaim God’s marvelous deeds of salvation to the nations.

 

  1. God is great and worthy of praise (vs. 4a)

 

The opening of verse 4 simply says,

 

“For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise”.

 

Which is a concept we have seen a few times before in other Psalms like Psalm 48: 1,

 

“Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain”.

 

When someone we know or have heard of does something remarkable we usually praise them and speak of how great or wonderful they are and so the God of the bible has done marvelous loving deeds of salvation for us so we should call him great and give him the praise he deserves.

 

David might have known these words in Deuteronomy 10: 17,

 

“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes”.

 

Our God is the king of kings or as this verse says, “Lord of Lords” but note the verse goes on to say he shows no partiality.

 

 

The context of this verse in Deuteronomy is how God loved Israel and chose them to be his special people and because of what God is like the verses that follow speak of how God wanted his people to treat aliens and widows, Deuteronomy 10: 19 – 21,

 

 “And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.

 

20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.”

 

Note again they are to praise God because he is the one who performed great and awesome wonders or deeds for his people when he led them out of slavery in Egypt.

 

We are saved by God’s grace Paul says in that famous Ephesians 2 passage about God grace to do great good works for God, Ephesians 2: 10,

 

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.

 

Through these good works for God we bring praise to our God as Jesus declares in Matthew 5: 16,

 

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”.

 

We do the good deeds for God because God has done so much for us and in doing the good deeds we bring glory and praise to our God because he is worthy of our praise because of what he has done for us.

 

The book of Revelation speaks of God and Jesus being worthy of praise. Revelation 4: 11 says,

 

“You are worthy, Our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being”.

 

Then in the next chapter of the book of Revelation Jesus is spoken of as being worthy of praise, Revelation 5: 9, here Jesus is called the lamb that was slain referring to his death on the cross for our sins,

 

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

 

So we should sing and proclaim God’s message to the Nations of his salvation through his marvelous deeds in Christ because through that we see how great and worthy of praise he really is.

 

  1. God is to be feared above all other God’s (vs. 4b – 5)

 

The second half of verse 4 and verse 5 speak of how great the God of the bible actually is and because of this greatness we should fear him or more specifically revere him. Verse 4b and verse 5 read like this,

 

“He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens”.

 

David had the concept of the Heathen God’s of the Canaanites to contend with usually wrapped up in the worship of Baal, a fertility God represented by a bull like idol. This religion or idea of God was attractive to David’s people because it appealed to their basic drive and desire for fertility for their crops and their families and even involved sexual prostitution in its worship of this God.

 

The exiles returning from Babylon, when David’s Psalm was reviewed and placed in the fourth book of Psalms also had many non -bible views of God to tempt them away from the one true God of the bible.

 

However verse 4b says,

 

“He is to be feared above all gods”

 

Even if other God’s existed, and the next verse says they don’t, then the God of the bible is above them or over them, he is the one true God who we have just learnt is worthy of our praise alone.

 

The book of Proverbs says, Proverbs 1: 7,

 

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline”.

 

At a recent bible study group I attended we were discussing the current opposition to school scripture. In my state, New South Wales in Australia because the schools were run by the churches originally the colonial government when they took over most of the church schools agreed to legislate into our state laws that the churches must have access to all public schools to teach scripture.

 

Our church along with many throughout our state have sent lay scripture teaches into our schools to teach God’s word for half an hour each week to all children for many years now. However in recent years parents of children in the school can opt for their children to attend non- scripture classes, which often mean sitting in a classroom and doing nothing while the scripture classes are being conducted.

 

One member of our bible study group said parents choosing non- scripture are choosing for their children to learn nothing instead of their child learning what is their only secure hope in this life and in the life to come.

 

These non – scripture believing parents not only want their children to learn nothing about God but many of them want all children to learn nothing and they are growing at this present time with lots of political clout to achieve this.

 

People today are in such rebellion to the idea of a God they would prefer to learn nothing about him in a hope he does not exist and therefore has no claim on their day to day lives. Paul says this about these people, Romans 1: 21,

 

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened”.

 

Verse 5 goes on to point out the uselessness of other God’s or even God ideas other than that of the God of the bible,

 

“For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens”.

 

Many scriptures teach this fact that idols and other supposed God’s are nothing. I like Isaiah’s many references to this and particularly this almost amusing reference about a tradesman making a idol that becomes a God in Isaiah 44: 12 – 15,

 

“The blacksmith takes a tool and works with it in the coals; he shapes an idol with hammers, he forges it with the might of his arm. He gets hungry and loses his strength; he drinks no water and grows faint.13 The carpenter measures with a line

 and makes an outline with a marker; he roughs it out with chisels and marks it with compasses. He shapes it in human form, human form in all its glory, that it may dwell in a shrine. 14 He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak.
He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow.15 It is used as fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it;  he makes an idol and bows down to it”.

 

I have only come close to idol worship once in my life and that was to only witness its ridiculous stupidity. On my first trip through Europe we travelled through Spain and visited a beautifully located catholic monastery at a place called Montserrat where there is a statue of Mary called The Black Madonna. I stood in a long line to climb some stairs up to the front of the church were a old wooden statue of Mary with the baby Jesus sits behind a sheet of glass.

 

However one of her hands is clear of the glass and people kiss the hand as they say a prayer to Mary. I thought of Isaiah’s words as I passed the statue, this is made of wood and crafted by a man yet somehow it has spiritual power and I’m sad to say I saw people worshipping the statue. I’m sure my Roman Catholic friends will say it only represents Mary but the truth is in the minds of many who bow before that statue it is to them like bowing before a god.

 

Because of the dangers of crossing the line to the statue or idol becoming a god to a person God says in Deuteronomy 5: 8 – 10,

 

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments”.

 

So we should sing and proclaim God’s marvelous deeds of salvation because he is not a dead useless idol but the living great God who is so great and powerful we should fear or reverence him and our world needs to know about him as without that they have nothing when it comes to knowledge of God.

 

  1. God is surrounded by splendor and Majesty (vs. 6)

 

The third reason David offers why we should sing and proclaim the marvelous deeds of salvation of the God of the bible is in verse 6, which says,

 

“Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary”

 

Some commentators believe David in this verse is not speaking of the earthly sanctuary in Jerusalem but the heavenly sanctuary that the earthly one symbolizes. If this is the case than the splendor and majesty before him is all the heavenly hosts that surround the heavenly throne of God.

 

Isaiah caught a glimpse of this in his vision of heaven at his commission by God recorded in Isaiah 6: 1 – 4,

 

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke”.

 

In the later life of John the apostle he to had a vision of God on his throne in heaven and he describes it this way, Revelation 4: 1 – 11,

 

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

 

In the centre, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

 

“‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”

 

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honour and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

 

11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power,
for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

 

So we must sing and proclaim the marvelous deeds of God of salvation because God is the king who sits on his throne in heaven surrounded by splendor and majesty and he is the one who is all strength and glory which he through Christ offers us the opportunity of approaching him on the throne of grace with our prayers for help and direction in our daily lives.

 

As the writer to the Hebrews puts it in Hebrews 4: 16,

 

“ Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”.

 

We can only approach this throne of grace because of what Jesus has done through his death on the cross he opened up access to heaven through him. Jesus is the only mediator between God and man and that is because it is only through him do we have this access to God as Paul says in 1 Timothy 2: 5 – 6,

 

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time”.

 

  1. 7 – 9   ACKNOWLEDGE AND WORSHIP THE GOD OF SALVATION TO THE

                 NATIONS

 

The second section like the first starts with a three- fold command from the Lord. In the first section it was “Sing to the Lord” three times now in this second section it is “Ascribe to the Lord” three times. In this section we will explore what it actually means to “Ascribe to the Lord and we will also learn of the wonderful connection of worshipping the Lord and how it relates to proclaiming to the nations what the Lord has done for us in saving us.

 

I have broken this second section into two parts:

 

  1. 7- 8   All people must acknowledge the God who offers salvation to

                         the nations

  1. 9 –     All people must worship the God who offers salvation to the

                         nations

 

Lets now have a close look at each of these two parts:

 

  1. 7- 8   All people must acknowledge the God who offers salvation to

                         the nations

 

As I have just said three times in verses 7 – 8 David commands,

 

“Ascribe to the Lord”

 

This command has been translated in a number of translations as,

 

“Give unto the Lord”

 

Which simply means we are to acknowledge who is the Lord and what he is like and of course what he has done for us. This is a call to the nations of the world to worship the God of the bible as the Lord or king of everything and everyone.

 

So what can we learn from these three commands to acknowledge and worship the Lord?

 

I have come up with three things we can learn from these three commands to ascribe to the Lord:

  1. Ascribe to the Lord is addressed to all people (vs. 7a)
  2. Ascribe to the Lord is to focus on God’s glory and strength (vs. 7b)
  3. Ascribe to the Lord is expressed primarily in worship (vs.8)

 

Lets then have a close look at each of these three things we can learn from this command to ascribe to the Lord.

 

  1. Ascribe to the Lord is addressed to all people (vs. 7a)

 

This call of God to acknowledge God as the God over all things and worship him that David gives us is not directed to the Nation of Israel but to all the world or as the verse 7a calls them. ‘Families of nations”, 7a says,

 

“Ascribe to the Lord, O families of nations”.

 

Albert Barnes points out this,

 

“O ye kindreds of the people – Hebrew, “Families” of the people: people, as united by family ties. The idea is that of worship not merely as individuals, nor as a mere “aggregate” of individuals united by no common bonds, but as those united by strong ties; bound by blood and affection; constituted into communities. It is a call on such to worship God in their capacity as thus bound together; to come as families and to worship God”.

 

Sadly the people of the world have seen the Jews and the Jewish faith as an exclusive people cut off from the rest of the world because they believe they alone are God’s special people.

 

This is not God’s intention for the Jews as we see in their original call to be a special nation of God in Exodus 19: 5 -6,

 

“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

 

Israel was made a special nation of God for good reasons and they were to take to the world as a people the message of God’s salvation. Through them God spoke to the world which is what the term “Kingdom of priests” implies.

 

Sadly it seems the Jews throughout history heard God say they were a treasured possession of the God of heaven and earth but seem to have not heard or come to terms with the concept of being a kingdom of priests to the world at large.

 

The irony is that even though the Jews seemed to have failed to be an effective kingdom of priests God still used them and their story as his great message of salvation to the world. Then of course Jesus was born a Jew and through him as God’s Son from heaven salvation has been won for anyone who has faith in him from no-matter what nation of earth we come from.

 

Those then who put their faith in Christ are part of what the bible calls the family of God or as this verse calls them “The family of Nations”.

 

Peter picks up the concepts of Christian believers being both God’s kingdom of priests and God’s family made up of people from every nation on earth in 1 Peter 2: 9 – 10,

 

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy”.

 

As part of God’s family then Psalm 96 verse 7a is telling us we are to “ascribe” to the Lord, acknowledging as the God of heaven and earth and worship him together which will come even clearer in the next verse.

 

One of the privileges I have had is visiting Christian churches in other countries and joining with people from a totally different culture and feeling immediately the same bond of faith in the Lord Jesus that I have at home and that makes me not an alien or stranger in that foreign country but a fellow family member of the kingdom of God. Together we worship the same God and acknowledged him as our father in heaven head of our wonderful family made up of people from all nations and walks of life.

 

  1. Ascribe to the Lord is to focus on God’s glory and strength (vs. 7b)

 

In the second half of verse 7 David again speaks of acknowledging the common God of the bible we have just learnt is the father of a great family of true believers and he writes,

 

“Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength”

 

Spurgeon writes,

 

“Give unto the Lord glory and strength, that is to say recognize the glory and power of Jehovah, and ascribe them unto him in your hymns. Who is glorious but the Lord? Who is strong, save our God?”

 

When we worship our Lord and God we need to focus our hearts and minds on who he really is and what he is really like. David did just that in so many Psalms like Psalm 21: 13,

 

“Be exalted, O Lord in your strength; we will sing and praise your might”.

 

The old gospel song I love to sing says,

 

“I am weak but thou art strong

Jesus keep me from all wrong

I’ll be satisfied as long

As I walk dear Lord close to thee”

 

David knew he was not strong and needed the lord to make him strong as he indicates in a Psalm like Psalm 28: 7,

 

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped”.

 

Paul spoke about his own weakness and how he is strong in God in Philippians 4: 13,

 

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength”.

 

So when we focus on the glory and strength of the Lord we realise our sinfulness and weaknesses but at the same time when we ascribe to the Lord we also realise that in the Lord we can know his strength and glory in our lives.

 

Paul speaks of the process of sanctification which I understand is the process of God working in the believer to become more like Christ in 2 Corinthians 3: 18 with these amazing words,

 

“And we all, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”.

 

So the process of sanctification is the process of realizing we are weak and sinful in ourselves without Christ but as we trust in him and what he has done for us we gain new strength in the Lord and this changes us to become more like Christ which is an ongoing process in this life.

 

  1. Ascribe to the Lord is expressed primarily in worship (vs.8)

 

In David’s third “ascribe to the Lord” he uses Old Testament language to speak of acknowledging God in acts of worship, he writes in verse 8,

 

“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name; bring an offering and come into his courts”.

 

So in our recognition of the glory and strength of our Lord we are to perform acts of worship, which in David’s time meant offering some kind of animal sacrifice. It is interesting that these acts of worship are seen as part of our proclamation of God’s marvelous deeds of salvation to all nations.

 

The Old Testament worship practices followed generally similar worship practices of other Gods in that they offered animal sacrifices to gods which seems part of all ancient religions. However the significance of what Old Testament bible based animal sacrifices was very different than the worship practices of the Nations around ancient Israel.

 

Gotquestions?org answers the question why did God want animal sacrifices in Old Testament worship this way,

 

“God required animal sacrifices to provide a temporary covering of sins and to foreshadow the perfect and complete sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Leviticus 4:35, 5:10)”

 

Leviticus 4: 35 says this,

 

“They shall remove all the fat, just as the fat is removed from the lamb of the fellowship offering, and the priest shall burn it on the altar on top of the food offerings presented to the Lord. In this way the priest will make atonement for them for the sin they have committed, and they will be forgiven”.

John the Baptist describes Jesus this way in John 1: 29,

 

“”Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”.

 

The tenth chapter of the Book of Hebrews deals in some detail with the reason and nature of Old Testament sacrifice and it speaks of it as only a shadow of the great and final sacrifice to come. Then in Hebrews 10: 11 – 14, we read these words,

 

“Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy”.

 

The priest the book of Hebrews speaks of is non other than Jesus Christ who is both the priest offering the sacrifice and the object of the sacrifice itself. Jesus being perfect gives his life as the payment for our sins and in doing so became the perfect sacrifice for all sins.

 

How then is this part of the proclamation of the message of God’s salvation to the Nations?

 

Well in Old Testament terms the practice of sacrifices told the world two things:

 

  1. That the God off the bible treated sin seriously
  2. Some kind of sacrificial offering was needed to deal with sin.

 

In New Testament terms it says to the world two things as well,

 

  1. Sin must be paid for
  2. God has paid for our sin by the giving of his only son to death on the cross.

 

We of course do not offer sacrifices to God any more because the one perfect sacrifice has been offered but Paul tells us the basis of New Testament in Romans 12: 1,

 

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer yourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship”.

 

So we ascribe to the Lord in worship when we offer ourselves in service to God and his church and in doing this we are proclaiming to the world that he has saved us and wants to save everyone through Christ who we now serve.

 

  1. 9 –     All people must worship the God who offers salvation to the

                         nations

 

The theme of worship continues with the scope of the worship offered being widened to all the earth. Verse 9 reads like this,

 

“Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him all the earth”.

 

David certainly did not have the Jewish problem of exclusiveness as he calls now for the worship of the God of the bible to extend to everyone on the earth.

This is a logical way of thinking when we consider what he has already said about God in this Psalm, like verse 4,

 

“For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all god’s”.

 

When we consider what the next verse says about all the other so called God’s being just idols and the God of the bible being the one who,

 

“Made the heavens”

 

In another sense David is exclusive as the only God who is worthy of praise and worship is the God of the bible but this praise and worship of this God is not limited to the tiny nation of Israel but is something people of all nations of the earth should be involved in.

 

God is worthy of praise then because he made everything in heaven and on earth and as the next verse, verse 10 says,

 

“The Lord reigns”.

 

God, we have learnt from this Psalm already is surrounded by splendor in heaven as verse 6 says,

 

“Splendor and majesty are before him”.

 

So verse 9 describes the kind of worship the people of this world should be involved in as worship,

 

“In the splendor of his holiness”.

 

What does this really mean?

 

John Gill believes that this expression is explained by the normal protocol of coming into the presence of ancient kings at the time of the writing of this Psalm and for a long time after. He believes that the past three verses on ascribing to the Lord also become clearer in the light of how ancient kings on earth were approached spoke to and Gill writes,

 

“This and the three preceding verses there is a manifest allusion to the form of addresses made to kings in the eastern nations; who being arrayed, and seated in a majestic manner, with all the marks of royal honor and dignity about them, whom their subjects approach with ascriptions of glory to them; bringing presents in their hands, and bowing down to the ground before them”.

 

This is the reverent kind of worship God must expect. We are warned over and over again about not showing reverence and respect to the God of the bible in many parts of the bible. Isaiah warns of the danger of approaching God in worship in a non sincere and irreverent way in Isaiah 29: 13,

 

“The Lord says: ‘These people come near me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their heats are far from me. Their worship of me is made up of rules taught by men”.

 

Such was the formal worship of Jesus day as he pointed out on a number of occasions like when Jesus cleared the Temple because Jewish merchants under the control of the Jewish leadership of the time turned the outer courts of the Temple where even Gentiles were allowed, into a market place to exploit would be worshippers.

 

I like Marks version of this event because Mark pin- points the central shocking nature of the irreverence of this activity with Jesus teaching on why he was doing this startling clearing of the Temple courts with what we call righteous anger.

 

Jesus quotes from Isaiah 56: 7 and then adds a particularly apt conclusion in Mark 11: 17,

 

“And as he taught them, he said, ‘It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.

 

But you have made it a den of robbers”.

 

The Jewish leaders of Jesus day had turned worship of the God of the Bible into a money making racket and therefore the sincerity of heart so necessary for true reverent worship was sadly lost. This was not only a tragedy for the Jewish worshippers but also God seeking Gentile worshippers who came to the Temple courts to by animals for sacrifice to the great God of the bible.

 

Paul writing in the first letter to the Corinthians had to deal with irreverent worship practices that had emerged in the Corinthian church. Paul deals with this in 1 Corinthians 11: 17 – 33. Here we learn that the worship of The Lord Jesus Christ through what he calls The Lords Supper had degenerated into a love feast. This corporate meal or feast had gotten right out of hand with some eating well and others not having much to eat at all.

 

Some participants even got drunk at these meetings and worse the real meaning of celebrating Jesus constituted basis of worship was lost and people instead were sinning in a number of ways in the guise of Christian worship.

 

Paul lays down the basis for The Lords supper worship ceremony in 1 Corinthians 11: 23 – 26,

 

“ For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes”.

 

Paul is setting down this basis of The Lord Supper worship ceremony to help the Corinthian church conduct corporate worship in a decent and orderly way. He completes his word on this with these solemn words of warning in 1 Corinthians 11: 33 – 34,

 

“So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment”.

Real worship of the God of the bible is both a joyful and serious activity, which is what is behind David’s words in verse 9 of Psalm 96, which says,

 

“Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him all the earth”.

 

Note those last words of this verse,

 

“Tremble before him all the earth”.

 

I like Spurgeon’s comment on this phrase,

 

“There is a sacred trembling which is quite consistent with joy, the heart may even quiver with an awful excess of delight. The sight of the King in his beauty caused no alarm to John in Patmos, and yet it made him fall at his feet as dead. O, to behold him and worship him with prostrate awe and sacred fear!”

 

  1. 10 – 13 REJOICE ALL CREATION IN THE GOD WHO JUDGES AND SAVES

                  THE WORLD

 

We come then to the third and final section of this Psalm 96 lifted from the pages of 1 Chronicles 16 where we find a even larger Psalm of David written for Sanctuary or Temple worship to help celebrate the ascension of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem.

 

In this final section of the Psalm we will hear of the worship of the God of the bible of the innate natural world followed by a word of prediction of the coming of the Lord in judgment of this world and its people.

 

I have broken this final section into two parts:

 

  1. 11 – 12 The praise of the natural world to the God who offers

             judgment and salvation to the world

  1. 13 –       The praise all people must offer the God who judges and

                              saves the world.

 

Lets then look at this final section of the Psalm:

 

  1. 11 – 12 The praise of the natural world to the God who offers

             judgment and salvation to the world

 

When I was in my twenties and thirties I tried to write a number of creative poems under the general title of “Prayers of the Created”. The idea behind this concept of “Prayers of the Created” was that I believed nature spoke of God in various ways and my main proof text for this idea was Psalm 19 verse 1,

 

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”.

 

Here is an example of one of those poems:

 

PRAISE THE MORNING

 

I love to see the morning, so fresh and clear each day,

Piecing through the darkness the sun sends down its ray,

And I love to see the morning; it is my hope each day.

So praise to the morning,

May the morning hold it’s sway today.

 

A haze of crystal water laps the shores of a tranquil bay.

Reflecting the wholesome beauty of every sunlit ray.

The birds all sing and chatter, their chorus for the day

“Praise to the morning

May the morning hold its sway on us today.

 

And I like to stop and ponder as I read God’s word each day,

How precious is the morning that herald’s in each day.

For the morning speaks of mercy as it drives the night away;

So praise to the morning

May the morning hold its sway on all my day.

 

And in the distant city, soft white clouds seem to say,

“The morning is our vision for in the morning children play”;

And so I ask the Lord to grant me a purpose for my day,

And he answers, “Praise the Morning,

The morning is yours today and every day”.

 

This rather romantic style poem is an attempt to get one innate aspect of God’s creation, “The Morning” to speak and even offer or at least inspire a prayer. David does the same kind of thing with verses 11 and 12 of Psalm 96,

 

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy”.

 

It seems that I picked up the same idea David had of how nature or the natural world can and does speak to us. I’m the kind of person that is not really impressed or inspired by a man made building like a Cathedral but take me to some impressive naturally beautiful place and I can get really inspired and sense the wonder and greatness of the God who made all that I see.

 

David calls the heavens and earth to rejoice,

 

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad”

 

This is a similar idea to what I quoted he said in Psalm 19: 1,

 

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”.

 

Psalm 19 is one of David’s Psalms called a creation Psalm and another is Psalm 8, which starts with the words,

 

“O Lord, our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens”.

 

This seems to be a reference to the stars of the night sky which also can make you think of the greatness and wonder of the God who made all that.

 

So David wants all creation to sing the praise of its creator so he speaks of the chaotic often-turbulent sea and all that’s in it to again rejoice in its wonderful creator,

 

“Let the sea resound, and all that is in it”

 

We have seen in recent Psalms the image of the sea as that mighty untamed often -chaotic place being under the control of the God of the bible, as we saw in Psalm 93: 3 – 4,

 

“The seas have lifted up, Lord, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.

 

Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea— the Lord on high is mighty”.

 

God has something to say through the sea and maybe it is something like I am so great and powerful and mighty because I even control the sea.

 

Then David turns to the dry land in verse 12,

 

12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy”.

 

Isaiah seems to have been inspired by this verse when he writes in Isaiah 44: 23,

 

“Sing for joy, you heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel”.

 

Here the innate natural world speaks praise for God’s salvation of the nation of Israel

 

Paul in Romans 8: 18 – 21 links God’s creation with God’s salvation of mankind, he writes,

 

“ I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

 

So creation itself has been sadly effected by the fall of man into sin and it groans in expectation for God’s total salvation to come as we will see in final two verses through the final judgment of God to come when Jesus returns to earth in all his heavenly glory.

 

I mentioned before that in my twenties and thirties I wrote some poems under the general concept of “Prayers of the Created”. I shared one of those poems that spoke of praise for the morning. Some of these poems were not prayers of praise but because of the bondage of creation through man’s sins creation sometimes my poems spoke of the negative aspects I observed in the world of nature, which has come about through the many sins of mankind. An example of this kind of poem follows:

 

CREATIONS GROANINGS

 

What has happened to the fields where once the flowers bloomed?

Stone upon stone man has built to feed his greed and gloom.

 

Even in the rugged bush mankind has left his mark.

Paper bags and soft drink cans lie around in every part.

 

Creation groans and suffers pain it often seems in turmoil.

High rise buildings and honking cars all cause our blood to boil.

 

Decay and death have entered into our world and it’s in a mess.

Even though there’s life around bad air mixes with fresh.

 

Creation longs to be released and find its liberty.

One day the sky will crack and the clouds will part and all will be set free.

 

  1. 13 –       The praise all people must offer the God who judges and

                              saves the world.

 

The last two lines of my the poem, “Creations Groaning” I just quoted relate very well to the last verse of this Psalm.

 

Creation longs to be released and find its liberty.

One day the sky will crack and the clouds will part and all will be set free.

 

This is because these two lines of my poem and the last verse of Psalm 96 speak of the Lord coming in judgment to this world,

 

“They sing before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth”.

 

Christians believe that this verse is a prediction of the coming of the Messiah who we believe is The Lord Jesus Christ. Jews reject the idea that Jesus is the Messiah and apparently one of the reasons they do this is because the coming of Jesus 2000 years ago did not fulfill all the Messianic prophecies.

 

It has been claimed that Jesus fulfilled 353 (see web page – www.accordingtothescriptures.org) However there are other Messiah prophecies Jesus did not fulfill in his life, ministry, death and resurrection and these like this last verse of Psalm 96 deal with God’s final day of judgment. Jewish critics of Christianity usually point to these unfulfilled prophecies and conclude that Jesus cannot therefore be the Messiah.

 

However the New Testament clearly teaches that Jesus first coming to this world was not to judge the world but to save it. The verse in John’s Gospel that follows the famous John 3:16 about how God sent Jesus into the world to save those who believe in him says this, John 3:17,

 

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him”.

 

Jewish critics would say this is a cop out to cover up the deficiencies of Jesus as the Messiah but most of the 353 Old Testament prophecies Jesus fulfilled deal with the Messiah’s role as a savior of mankind like, Isaiah 53: 5,

 

“But he was pieced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed”.

 

This is not a cop out as the Messiah was predicted in the Old Testament to come as our savior from our sins. However he is also predicted as the great bringer of judgment as this final verse of Psalm 96 says,

 

“He comes to judge the earth”.

 

Jesus himself explains how he is both the world’s savior and Judge in John 12: 44 – 48,

 

 “Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

 

47 “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day”.

 

Jesus speaks, however in a number of places of a second coming to this world and in that second coming he will come as the judging Messiah. As we see for instance in Matthew 25: 31 – 32,

 

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats”.

 

So why have at least 2,000 years, maybe more between these comings of Christ?

 

The answer to that is God does not want anyone to perish and now through what his son, the saving Messiah he can offer salvation to avoid his judgement. Peter speaks of this very issue in 2 Peter 3: 8 – 9,

 

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”.

 

We then are living in a special age of God, which has been called “The Gospel Age” where we are called to, like verse 3 of this Psalm says,

 

“Declare his glory among the Nations, his marvellous deeds among all people”.

 

So creation, Paul says in Romans 8: 22 is groaning awaiting God’s final judgment to come to free it like us from the bondage of sin. This is how I understand what the start of Psalm 96 verse 13 is saying in the words,

 

“They sing before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth”.

 

The final words of the Psalm tells us how God will judge the earth,

 

He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth”.

 

Albert Barnes explains these final words of the Psalm this way,

 

“The allusion would seem to be to some future time when God would come to reign among people; to dispense justice; to vindicate his people, and to establish truth”.

 

This again seems to me to be yet another Old Testament prophecy of the coming of the great Messiah king who again I believe is The Jesus Christ. Not Christ in his first coming but Christ in his second and final coming to this world when the Gospel age is ended and Christ comes from heaven to reign on earth as the great judge of all the earth as we read of in Revelation 20: 11 – 15,

 

 “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire”.

 

Unto that great day comes we are to follow the command of Christ as he gave us all in Mark 16: 15 – 16,

 

“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned”.

 

These words are mirrored by the opening three verses of this Psalm, which read this way,

 

“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples”.

 

I close as usual with an original poem and a prayer,

 

PREACH HIS GOSPEL NOW

(Based on Mark 16: 15 – 16 and Psalm 96)

 

Go into the world

And preach the Gospel Now

Tell all creation

Of his mighty saving power

 

Sing this brand new song

Sing to all the earth

Sing of his salvation

When God’s Son came to earth.

 

Chorus:

Our God is so great

So worthy of praise each hour

He reigns supreme

We must preach his Gospel now.

 

Who ever believes

And is baptised will be saved.

For we must give God the praise

When we remember what he has made.

 

Say to all the world

That our God surely does reign.

His judgments are fair

And we must praise his mighty name.

 

Chorus:

Our God is so great

So worthy of praise each hour

He reigns supreme

We must preach his Gospel now.

 

If you don’t believe

Your sin has condemned you.

For the heavens and earth rejoice

In the God they know is true.

 

The trees and the forests sing

Of the Lord who is surely coming

To Judge all the earth

And to do away with sin.

 

Chorus:

Our God is so great

So worthy of praise each hour

He reigns supreme

We must preach his Gospel now.

 

By: Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

 

Dear Father in heaven I thank you for your great and wonderful message of the Gospel, which came to us by the coming of your only Son Jesus Christ to our world. The Gospel message tells us that we are sinners and are all under your just and righteous judgment. But your Gospel message also tells us that through the death of your Son, Jesus Christ we can know your amazing forgiveness if we would but turn from our sin and accept what Jesus has done for us. Help us to take this Gospel message to the world as you have commanded us to do and may many come to know your love through the message of your Gospel. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.