Friday, August 12, 2022

Creation's New Symphony (Psalm 98)

Today we return to the Psalms. Psalm 98 illustrates God’s glory manifest to all nations through the salvation He brings forth by His own hand. God has relied on no means other than His own power and righteousness to bring salvation to fallen man. He did not send a simple human or an angel to die on the cross at Golgotha. He sent His own Son, God incarnate, Jesus Christ our Redeemer. In response to so great a salvation, the psalmist penned these words to lift our spirits in glorious praise to God.

Psalm 98:1-2 The Second Coming of Christ means the final deliverance of Israel from the oppression of the Gentile nations. That glorious emancipation gives rise to this new song, celebrating the victory of Messiah over His foes. “Marvelous” is the word for all that the Lord has done with His right hand of power and His holy arm.

The Psalm pictures the Kingdom as having already come. His victory is by now well known. The nations have seen the faithful fulfillment of His covenant with Israel.

When Jesus came the first time, Mary sang, “He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers …” (Luke 1:54, 55). And Zacharias prophesied that He would “perform the mercy promised to our fathers and … remember His holy covenant” (Luke 1:72).

Psalm 98:3 When He comes the second time, Israel will sing:

    He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel;

    All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

It was the mercy of the Lord that prompted Him to make the promises to Israel, and it is His faithfulness that now fulfills them.

Psalm 98:4–6 At first glance it appears that all the Gentile world is being called to rejoice with Israel in verses 4–6. But the earth in verse 4 probably means the “land” of Israel, as in F. W. Grant’s translation. The saved Israelites are exhorted to break forth in rapturous song. The Levites are encouraged to join with the accompaniment of the harp. And in verse 6 the priests complete the harmony with their trumpets and the sound of a horn.

Psalm 98:7–9 Then nature and the nations are welcomed to join the symphony. The sea and its numberless inhabitants are imaginatively pictured as roaring with delight. The world and its occupants are deliriously happy too. The rivers clap their hands as they break upon the rocks. The hills lift up their heads as if in songs of ecstasy. All creation reacts with spontaneous transport when the King comes to rule over (judge) the earth—to give this poor, sick, sobbing world a reign of righteousness and of equity. Who wouldn’t be happy?