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.