(Part 1) A Call To Exalt The Lord As King And Righteous Judge Of All The Earth
By Pastor Robbie Casas
Ever since the Covid-19 crisis exploded last March, resulting in the quarantine situation in most of the country, I have been preaching to you messages focused on our encouragement, as we all battle to have a perspective that will help us respond rightly, biblically and in a way that is pleasing to God in this very difficult situation. We have heard teachings, not just from the Sunday pulpit but also through the daily devotionals from our Elders, reminding us of how God is sovereign, and how through this
truth He is building up our faith in Him and sanctifying us so us to transform us to be more and more like Christ in facing this current trial. I had even “tweaked” the Resurrection Sunday message to help us address and face our present situation with hope.
Today, as I continue with our Selected Psalms Series, we will look at a psalm, Psalm 96, that is really all about God. Nothing in this psalm speaks of any clear or immediate benefit to the reader. The only reference to the reader are the 14 commands given.
What I would like to impress on you through psalm is this: this whole crisis has all to do with God. Yes, there are immediate causes to the many situations that surround it. Yes, God’s sanctifying process in His church continues and remains of great importance to Him. But this whole crisis – and whatever will result from it or follow it – has to do with God’s glory and His redemptive plan in Jesus Christ; it has to do with the vindication of His holiness and the fulfillment of His eternal plans. Though we, the church, play a crucial role in all this, at the end of the day it is not about us but about God.
I pray that this will help clear our perspective as we plod through the details of each day in this crisis. As believers in Christ, we can only be thankful that we are securely on God’s side, even way beyond the time when the smoke clears and the dust settles around us.
A BACKGROUND TO THE PSALM
Psalm 96 is a praise psalm that issues a universal call to worship the Lord as King who reigns over all the earth, and who will judge the world. The theme of God’s universal kingship can also be found in several other psalms (Pss 47; 93; 97; 99; and particularly Ps 98).
You will find this psalm used by David in 1 Chronicles 16 when David brought the ark back to Jerusalem and gave Asaph and his relatives responsibility for praising and thanking the Lord. In David’s song of thanks in vv. 8-34, vv. 8-22 correspond to Ps 105:1-15 and commemorates God’s covenant with Abraham and protection of the patriarchs. From vv. 23-33, David incorporates Psalm 96, though in slightly altered form.
But the significance of this psalm goes beyond this historical event. As we will see, it looks forward to a time when the Lord will be praised by all nations on earth (vv. 1-3, 7, 9-10), and even by all creation (vv. 11-12). In v. 13, it anticipates the coming of the Lord to judge the world.
You will also notice that the intensity of the psalm builds over its three stanzas.
THE NOTABLE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PSALM
First, it is a psalm focused almost solely on the Lord. It refers to Him 24x (“Lord” – 9x; “He”/“Him”/“His” – 15x). As I mentioned earlier, nothing in this psalm speaks of any obvious or immediate benefit to us. It’s all about God.
Second, it is a psalm of praise. Notice the language of praise/worship that fills the psalm (“Sing to the Lord” – 3x; “Ascribe to the Lord” – 3x; “greatly to be praised”; “Bring an offering”; “Worship the Lord”; “Tremble before Him”; “be glad”; “rejoice”; “exult”; “sing for joy”). Its tone therefore is that of joy – joyful exultation and anticipation.
Third, it is a psalm that carries a message to be heralded. ~ Note the words “Proclaim”, “Tell… among the nations”, “Say among the nations”.
Fourth, the psalm addresses a universal audience. Observe these words/phrases that litter the whole psalm: “all the earth” – 2x, “among the nations” – 2x, “among the peoples”, “among all the peoples”, “above all gods”, “all the gods of the peoples”, “families of the peoples”, “all the earth”, “the earth” – 3x, “the peoples” – 5x, “the world” – 2x, “the heavens” – 2x.
All of these notable characteristics have a bearing on the message of this psalm, especially to us today.
THE OUTLINE OF THE PSALM
>> Psalm 96 consists of three calls:
I. The First Call (96:1-6)
a. The OpeningCall to the World to Worship God (vv. 1-2a)
b. TheInitial Call to God’s People to Proclaim God’s Message (vv. 2b-3)
c. The Reasons for the First Call (vv. 4-6)
II. The Second Call (96:7-10)
a. The Next Call to the World to Worship God (vv. 7-9)
b. The Succeeding Call to God’s People to Proclaim God’s Message (v. 10)
III. The Final Call (96:11-13)
a. The Universal Call to All Creation to Rejoice in God (vv. 11-12)
b. The Reason for the Final Call (v. 13)
>> Read Ps 96:
1 Sing to the Lord a new song;
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.
3 Tell of His glory among the nations,
His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.
4 For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised;
He is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the Lord made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before Him,
Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.
7 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory of His name;
Bring an offering and come into His courts.
9 Worship the Lord in holy attire;
Tremble before Him, all the earth.
10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns;
Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved;
He will judge the peoples with equity.”
11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
Let the sea roar, and all it contains;
12 Let the field exult, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy
13 Before the Lord, for He is coming,
For He is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
And the peoples in His faithfulness.