Tuesday, August 2, 2022

The King is Coming (Psalm 96)

At least seventeen different ways of praising the Lord, given in the form of crisp commands, are found in Psalm 96. Notice the repetition of “sing” (vv. 1, 2), “give” (vv. 7, 8), and “let” (vv. 11, 12).

Psalm 96:1-2 The new song is the anthem that will swell when the Lord Jesus returns to earth to begin His glorious reign. It will not only be a new song but a universal one as well; people from all over the earth will blend their voices in it. Men will bless the name of the Lord and continually bear testimony to His power to save. “Each day (they will) tell someone that he saves.”

Psalm 96:3–6 What they will do in the future, we should be doing now, namely, declaring His glory among the nations and His wonders among all peoples. The LORD is great, infinitely superior to all gods. False gods made of wood or stone are powerless; the true God is Jehovah, who made the heavens. His attributes are like inseparable attendants, accompanying Him everywhere. Thus honor and majesty precede Him, and strength and beauty wait on Him in His sanctuary. “Honor and beauty are his escort; worship and magnificence the attendants of his shrine” (Knox).

Psalm 96:7–9 If we really appreciate the greatness and goodness of the LORD, we will want others to magnify His name too. Thus the psalmist calls on the families of the peoples to join in telling the LORD how majestic and stately and mighty He is. They should ascribe to Him the glory that is due His name. They should bring an offering to lay at His feet. They should worship Him in the beauty of holiness, or in holy garments. All the world should pay Him obeisance.

The mention of holy garments reminds us that even the clothes we wear when we worship the Lord should be appropriate to the occasion. While it may be true that reverence is primarily a matter of the heart, it is also true that we can express our reverence by our attire. Slovenly clothes at the communion service, for instance, betray a casualness that is seldom seen at weddings or funerals.

Psalm 96:10 This verse identifies the occasion of the new song as the investiture of Messiah-King. The LORD has begun His reign! The world-system is established on a sound basis so that it shall not be moved by wars, depressions, poverty, injustice, catastrophes, or other crises. The clause “it shall not be moved” must be understood as meaning “never during the thousand-year reign of Christ.” We know that at the end of that time, the heavens and the earth will be destroyed by fire (2 Pet. 3:7–12). The point here is that the Lord will rule over the peoples righteously, and will protect them from unsettling influences.

Psalm 96:11–13 All creation is invited to join in the festal joy as the LORD (Jehovah, or Yahweh) arrives to rule the world. The heavens will be happy. The earth will be glad. “The sea and all within it will thunder praise” (Gelineau). No field will be silent, and “no tree in the forest but will rejoice to greet its Lord’s coming” (Knox). For He is coming to rule over the world. He will rule in perfect righteousness and in absolute honesty.

“Now therefore, why do you say nothing about bringing back the king?” (2 Sam. 19:10).

When we proclaim the riches of salvation in Christ Jesus, we instruct heathen nations to worship God in truth. Instead of worshiping their own impotent gods, they learn of the Almighty who is above all others and who upholds His creation by His strength. Let each of us obey God’s commandment that righteousness may come to all nations. Let us sing to the Lord a new song and proclaim to the ends of the earth, “The LORD reigns.”