Weds 22nd February - Psalm 96
1 Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
4 For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
7 Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.
9 Worship the Lord in the splendor of his[a] holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.
10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.”
The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.
11 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.
13 Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his faithfulness.
Meditation on Psalm 96
Wow! What a psalm of praise – no confessions, no personal requests. Just meditating on the greatness of the LORD.
Before we get into any detail, just dwell on these words and phrases from this psalm:
‘great is the Lord and most worthy of praise’
‘splendour and majesty’
‘worship the LORD’
‘the LORD reigns’
‘let the heavens rejoice’
‘let the earth be glad’
‘let the fields be jubilant’
‘all the trees of the forest sing for joy’
‘let all creation rejoice’
‘he comes to judge the earth’
‘righteousness and faithfulness’.
What a list! Where do we start in our meditation? Let me quote the verse of an old song…
‘We’ve a song to be sung to the nations, that shall lift their hearts to the Lord;
a song that shall conquer evil, and shatter the spear and the sword;
for the darkness shall turn to the dawning and the dawning to noon-day bright,
and Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth, the kingdom of love and light.’
Handel took 24 days to compose the Messiah. When he had finished the Hallelujah chorus he is reported as telling his servant, “I did think I did see all heaven before me and the great God Himself seated on His throne with His company of angels.”
A. SING AND DECLARE Verses 1-3
We are not singing any old song. We are singing a new song to the LORD. He is the focus of our singing. He is the subject of our singing. We are singing TO the Lord. It is very easy to get caught up in songs about ‘me, myself and I’ but we, then, become the focus of the song. What songs are we singing to the Lord?
Spurgeon makes it clear when he says, ‘a new song, always new; keep up the freshness of your praise. Do not drivel down into dull routine…. We have new mercies to celebrate, therefore we must have new songs.’
And this is not a local phenomenon. The whole earth should be singing to the LORD. When we sing, we ‘praise His name.’
How many songs can you think of that focus on the name of Jesus? Remember what His name means… ‘you shall call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins’. (Matthew 1:21)
Remember how powerful His name is … ‘salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’ (Acts 4:12)
One more verse: ‘Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth… (Philippians 2;9-10)
And when we sing to the LORD, we ‘declare His salvation day after day.’ Our singing, therefore, is not just for certain festivals or particular time of the year but ‘day after day’.
Nor are we singing just locally as if we don’t want others to hear (although that might be a good thing!) We are declaring ‘His glory among the nations.’
I well remember on one of my early trips to Romania when we were up in the mountains and, spontaneously, we started to sing ‘How great Thou art’, some in English and others in Romania. As we sang, we walked around, changing our view each turn we took.
As we sing, we are also declaring ‘His marvellous deeds among all peoples.’
Each of us can recollect these marvellous deeds as He has worked, and is working, in our lives.
Let’s enjoy our singing as we praise the Lord, as we proclaim His salvation, as we declare His glory and as we declare His glory.
B. HE IS WORTHY Verses 4-6
When Moses and Aaron challenged Pharoah, he replied to them, “Who is the LORD? I do not know the LORD.”
The psalmist would answer as he does in this psalm:
§ He is great
§ He is worthy of praise
§ He is the creator
§ His splendour and majesty are before Him
§ His strength and glory are seen in His dwelling place.
Again, we can all think of songs that we have sung, and will still sing, that give us good reason to sing His praises. ‘How great Thou art’.
John, in the book of Revelation, gives us a good starting point when he says, ‘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.’ (Revelation 4:11)
And again, ‘To Him who sits on the throne sand to the Lamb, be praise and honour and glory and power for ever and ever.’ (Revelation 5:13)
C. ALL NATIONS Verses 7-10
This call to worship and praise the Lord goes out across the whole world to every nation. As we look around the world today, we have to admit that this is not happening, even across the UK. As Pharoah asked the question and made a statement, already quoted above, so, as a nation, we are asking the same questions and making the same statements.
This drives us on to reach out across our communities, our nation and around the world. We, the children of God, are the messengers of God to the whole world so that the world may come to hear about and come to know, the great Creator and Redeemer. There is coming a day when Jesus returns that the whole earth – people and creation - will bow the knee to God’s King, the Lord Jesus. As Paul writes to the Philippian church, ‘at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father’. (Philippians 2:10-12)
D. ALL OF CREATION Verses 11-13
Perhaps we have watched a number of nature programmes or enjoyed the countryside physically. We have all seen the night sky. We have watched the sea, both calm and raging. We have looked out across the fields, some bursting with colour, some recently ploughed, some bearing fruit or vegetables. We have
walked through the woods and the trees are swaying in the wind and the sun is shining through, giving light and shade.
We can each add to this list. And we can all say with the psalmist, ‘Let all creation rejoice before the LORD’.
Creation itself sings to the Lord.
We know that creation is groaning. Paul tells us, ‘we know that the whole of creation has been groaning as in the pains of childhood right up to this present time’. (Romans 8:22)
We see this as we look around the nations. Jesus told us that there would be trouble of all kinds. You only need to read Matthew 24 to see what is happening and what is going to happen before Jesus returns ‘to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His faithfulness.’ (Psalm 96:13)
As Paul says when he preached in Athens, ‘…God now commands all people to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead.’ (Acts 17:30-31)
The LORD reigns. Let us sing to Him, proclaim His salvation and declare His marvellous deeds.