Praise - Psalm 98

One very interesting thing about the Psalms is that, with a few exceptions, they are praising God. Oh, many are prayers for deliverance. Many are prayers for relief of many things. Pain. Persecution. And poverty. And yet, they still praise the Lord. However, this and other Psalms like it are pure praise. This particular Psalm of praise lifts to God hands of thanksgiving for His salvation. This Psalm has no author attributed to it, Spurgeon suggests that it is a Psalm of King David which is as reasonable as any. This Psalm has a one word title, Mismo, which is the Hebrew and it means quite simply, Psalm. One of the ancient rabbis call it an orphan Psalm. The Psalm begins with the command to sing to the Lord a new song. Four times there is a command in Scripture to sing to the Lord a new song. Three times there is reference to a new song. And an unnumbered quantity of new songs which were sung to the Lord. Such as the song sung by Moses after the crossing of the Red Sea. And the song sung by Miriam and the women after Moses finished his new song. I was talking to one of the men at the assisted living center just before we began the service about singing. And I noted that God loves for people to sing to Him. And that God seems to love a lot of noise in worship. Our Psalm this morning proves my point. Perhaps, just perhaps we should be just a little bit noisier in our worship. So, lets turn to the first verse of our Psalm, Psalm 98 as we begin to learn from the Psalmist.

Psalms 98:1 (NKJV).
Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! For He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.
Not long ago the morning message was centered on the 96th Psalm and it had the same command. Sing to the Lord a new song. Lately, we have been singing songs which are newer and new to us. Thatís a good start, and our pianists have done an excellent job of learning these new songs and accompanying us Sunday Mornings. I hope you appreciate the efforts of Joyce and Kenneth (Or Ashenfox in our case) and their excellent skill and talent. And I hope you appreciate the efforts of Jeana with her beautiful, strong voice in helping us sing these songs. I certainly do appreciate their willingness to work to enhance our worship experience. In the parable of the talents, Jesus told the faithful ones, "'Well done, good and faithful servant; Enter into the joy of your lord." We are singing newer songs, but there is, also, nothing wrong in singing the old songs which are so filled with worship and praise. The Psalmist says to sing this new song to the Lord, because He has done marvelous things. But each of us should sing to the Lord our own new song. We could sing about the children who have made a commitment to Christ already this year. And about all the children over these twenty three years. We could sing about the food the children and volunteers collected this year and the many years in the past. We could sing about the lives God saved through the hands and skills, and caring of His medical people. We could sing about so many things in our lives that God has given. And we could sing about the many miracles in the lives of others. These are the marvelous things. Salvation. Healing. Physical, mental and emotional but especially spiritual.

Charles Spurgeon suggests a dialog between King David and Mary, the virgin mother of Godís Christ and I would like to examine that dialog. So we have to keep our finger in this Psalm and turn to Luke 1, starting with the 46th verse.

David, the Psalmist - O sing unto the LORD a new song
Mary, the virgin - My soul magnifies the Lord,
David - For He has done marvelous things
Mary - For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
David - His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.
Mary - He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
David - The LORD has made known His salvation; His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations.
Mary - And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation.
David - He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel
Mary - He has helped His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy,
Spurgeon speculates whether Mary had this Psalm in mind when she sang her new song

Lets read again this first verse of our Psalm.

Psalms 98:1 (NKJV)

Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! For He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory. His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory. The right hand is the hand of strength.
There is only one victory that matters today, the victory over Satan, hell, and death that Jesus won on the cross of Calvary and His resurrection. Notice the significant word in the next verse. "Salvation".

Psalms 98:2 (NKJV)
The LORD has made known His salvation; His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations.
What more conspicuous manifestation of Godís salvation then the terrible death and glorious resurrection of the Son of God? There on the cross was revealed Godís righteousness. How, you ask? The Lord told Adam and Eve, concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in the day that you eat of the tree, you will surely die. Death was the penalty for sin, is the penalty for sin. And on the cross, sin was judged and the penalty laid upon the Lordís Christ. Notice Isaiah 53:6.

Isaiah 53:6 (NKJV)

All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Letís pull into this, the third verse of our Psalm.

Psalms 98:3 (NKJV)

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.
The oldest promise of our restitution to Godís loving favor was given to Eve and to the serpent, we know is the adversary, the dragon, Satan, the devil, Genesis 3:15.

Genesis 3:15 (NKJV)

And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."
All people knew God promise and yet, rejected Him. God has planted His law in the heart of every man. And yet, they rebel against Godís morality. Preachers of an earlier age have said that Godís salvation has been revealed to the whole world. They mention Africa, Greenland, Polynesia, The Americas. They mention the poor of the world, the average, and the rich. In very poetic language these mighty preachers list the places and peoples to whom the grace of God had been revealed. But, one cannot blame them, they knew old wooden sailing ships, horse and buggy, and primitive means of communication. Little did they know of those in the deep rain forests of Africa, Australia, and South America. Little did they know of the many inhabited islands. Little did they know of the Alaskan native population. Just recently, I heard that every people group had been reached with the gospel. But, we had better be careful, God may have more hidden for us to reach. How else can we reason out the hunger manifested by those the Merandas were reaching? Now lets turn to the fourth, fifth and sixth verses of our Psalm.

Psalms 98:4-6 (NKJV)

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.
{5} Sing to the LORD with the harp, With the harp and the sound of a psalm,
{6} With trumpets and the sound of a horn; Shout joyfully before the LORD, the King.
Charles Spurgeon began his exposition of this passage this way, "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth. Every tongue must applaud, and that with the rigor which joy of heart alone can arouse to action. As men shout when they welcome a king, so must we. Loud hosannas, full of happiness, must be lifted up."
He went on to say, "John Wesley said to his people, 'Sing lustily, and with a good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, than when you sung the songs of Satan.'"
As I said to the gentleman in the assisted living center, God seems to like a lot of noise. Really, God loves to hear us singing His praises, and singing of the wonderful things the Lord has done for us. I would like to read to you the words of John Boys, concerning these three verses. "Wherewith is God to be praised? In a literal sense with all kind of music: vocal, sing unto the Lord: chordal, Praise him upon the harp: pneumatical, with trumpets, etc. In an allegorical exposition, we must praise God in our actions, and praise him in our contemplation; praise him in our words, praise him in our works; praise him in our life, praise him at our death; being not only temples, but timbrels also of the Holy Ghost."

In verse 5, we read, Sing to the LORD with the harp, With the harp and the sound of a psalm. As we sing to the Lord our voices, our hearts, our bodies, our very lives should be the voice of a Psalm. Singing praises to the Lord in word and deed. Being the living Psalm. Joy is a needed ingredient of true praise. The Lord as King, an essential idea in adoration. Expression in various ways is necessary for us when praising joyfully such a King.

Now to something a little different, in verses 7 & 8. Nature singing unto the Lord.

Psalms 98:7-8 (NKJV)

Let the sea roar, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell in it;
{8} Let the rivers clap their hands; Let the hills be joyful together before the LORD,
In Luke 19:39 & 40, at the triumphal entry, Jesus was challenged by the Pharisees to tell His disciples to be quiet.

Luke 19:39-40 (NKJV)

And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples."
{40} But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."
Was Jesus being funny? Sarcastic? Or literal? Truthfully, I believe that Jesus was speaking literally. Had Jesus done as the Pharisees commanded, nature itself would have cried out in protest. When Jesus was on the cross, the sun hid its face and the earth split. Even the dead rose in response to the murder of the King of Kings. In the desert, rocks gave water when struck by Mosesí rod. Isaiah 55:12 says

Isaiah 55:12 (NKJV)

"For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills Shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Is it so difficult to believe that God can cause inanimate nature to praise and sing? What is more difficult is to get people to sing His praises. How would the mountains and hills sing Godís praises? I imagine lustfully, loudly, joyfully and I imagine in tune. But, how do many sing His praises? Quietly, timidly, without much joy, wimpally if at all. Some sing as I imagine the mountains and hills would sing - some make simply a joyful noise unto the Lord and thatís OK. Is it so difficult the believe that God can cause trees to clap their hands, that river can be caused to clap their hands. The God who created them can cause them to do anything. Thatís the easy part, what is difficult is to get people to clap their hands in worship. Just how would a tree clap its hands? I imagine like a standing ovation, calling, "encore, encore" to all who are praising the creator. Well, let us close by looking at the last verse of our Psalm.

Psalms 98:9 (NKJV)

For He is coming to judge the earth. With righteousness He shall judge the world, And the peoples with equity.
When Christ judges the earth and all nature is free of the curse, that will be cause for real joy. In Romans 8:20-22, Paul tells us about the suffering of creation because of the first manís sin.

Romans 8:20-22 (NKJV)

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;
{21} because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
{22} For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.
All creation will be free. If you have ever been under restraints, you know what it is to be free. Why, if you ever had to wear a pair of shoes that were too tight, you savor the release. There was a time when what I wore all the working day was combat boots. And there were many times, at the end of the day, I would remove one boot and just savor that and anticipate the removal of the other boot. This is how I imagine all creation to feel when Christ comes to judge the earth. Think of the poor, down trodden, and homeless - Free! Our Savior will judge with righteousness and equity. No, poverty, degradation, and homelessness is not a free pass into the kingdom. But, as James points out in James 2:5 these are the ones God has given great faith.

James 2:5 (NKJV)

Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?
Our savior will judge with equity. The righteous will gain entry into Godís presence. Those who wear the righteousness of Christ. Not supposing to enter the kingdom on their own merit. All of this is cause for praise. Cause for joy. Cause to sing unto the Lord. Lustfully, joyfully, loudly. God loves the noise of true worship from thankful, joyful hearts.

Amen!

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Pastor Lee Vary
November 4, 2006

Today's reading: Psalm 98

98:1 A Psalm. O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.
2 The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly showed in the sight of the heathen.
3 He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
4 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
5 Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm.
6 With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.
7 Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
8 Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together
9 Before the LORD; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.