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Bible: What Does Psalms 96-103 Teach Us About Worship and the Coming of the LORD?

Updated on September 15, 2016

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Psalms 96-103: "A New Song"/Worship the Coming King

As a call for all believers to rejoice and sing praises to their great Savior, the LORD, because

He is coming to judge the earth in righteousness, this psalm proclaims Messianic hopes, employing the phrase "a new song" (vv. 1-4, 13).

Contrasting God with Gentile idols, the writer emphasizes Yahweh’s creatorship and majesty as ample reasons for all nations to worship and reverence Him (vv. 5-10).

All nature — the heavens, the earth, the sea, the field, and “all the trees of the woods”— will “rejoice” when the LORD arrives in judgment (vv. 11-13).

[God's righteous judgment promises to rectify all wrongs and reward all holy deeds. Cf. 1 Chronicles 16:23-33].

Psalm 97

"Because Yahweh is the King of the universe, the earth should rejoice (v. 1)," argues the psalmist.

He describes the awesome "environment" of God's throne, and the effects His presence produces upon enemies and nature alike (vv. 2-6).

For this reason alone everyone should worship Him, as do the daughters of Judah (vv. 7-9).

His saints should reject what is evil, rejoice, and give thanks for His preservation and deliverance (vv. 10-12).

[God's fearsome Presence should cause the sinner to turn from his rebellion, and the saint to rejoice and live righteously].

Psalm 98

This psalm calls for joyful singing (v. 4), for the playing of instrumental music (vv. 5, 6), and even for the approval of nature—“the sea,” “the world,” “the rivers,” and “the hills”—(vv. 7, 8), because the holy, omnipotent LORD is coming to judge the earth (vv. 1, 9; cf. 96:13).

This work expresses "new song" literature (cf. Ps. 96:1).

Speaking post-victory, the writer offers reasons to sing: the revelation of God's salvation, righteousness, mercy, and faithfulness to His covenants with Israel (vv. 2-3).

[Once God sets every issue aright, nothing should restrain His people and all nature from singing in triumph].

Psalm 99

This psalm forms a triad with Psalms 93 and 97 by beginning with the assertion "The LORD reigns!" (v. 1)

Through his emphasis upon God's holiness (vv. 3, 5, 9)—note the refrain in vv. 5, 9)—, the writer directs the people to praise and worship His name, citing Moses, Aaron and Samuel as examples of those saints whose prayers He answered, whose sins He forgave, and also whose lives He chastened (vv. 6-8).

[This psalm exhorts believers to follow the example of great saints of the past who obeyed God's commands and worshiped Him in His holiness].

Jesus, the Good Shepherd




Psalm 100

While exhorting the people of God to show appropriate responses toward the LORD (shouting, serving, singing, giving thanks, and praising) [vv. 1, 2, 4] in light of God's goodness, mercy, and truth toward them (v. 5), this psalm of thanksgiving also commands them to acknowledge their status as His possession.

That is, it tells them to come humbly before Him because He is their heavenly Shepherd (v. 3).

[Knowing what we are before the Shepherd—very privileged, loved sheep who often go astray but whom God always rescues—we should not hesitate to express our gratefulness in every possible way for His protection and provision].

Psalm 101

David promises to take holy actions in his life: praise God for His mercy and justice (v. 1), and watch that he does not look at, think about, or practice wickedness at all [maintain purity] (vv. 3-4).

His commitment extends to personal relationships; he will not fellowship with wicked people, but he will employ the faithful (vv. 6, 7).

Those who practice wickedness—engage in slander, pride, deceitfulness, and lies—he will destroy (vv. 5, 8).

[Verses 1, 2, 5-6, 8 center on "do's" (godly and righteous actions), but David also rehearses the "do not’s" (actions to avoid) in vv. 3, 7.

To make advances in righteousness, the believer must work both sides].

Psalm 102

A man, bitterly afflicted in soul and body, prays fervently for the LORD to answer him speedily (vv. 1-2).

Employing much figurative speech [e.g., days consumed like smoke (v. 3a), bones burned like a hearth (v. 3b), heart is stricken and withered like grass (v. 4), like a pelican in the wilderness (v. 6a), like an owl of the desert (v. 6b), like a sparrow alone on the housetop (v. 7)], he explicitly portrays himself as one wasting away under both the hatred of his enemies (v. 8) and the chastening hand of God (v. 10).

[Note the psalmist’s continued use of similes to describe his suffering: “eaten ashes like bread” (v. 9), “days are like a shadow that lengthens,” and “wither away like grass” (v. 11)].

Remembering the LORD's eternality and glory (v. 12), he yet looks forward to the day [which he seems to think has come (v. 13)] when Yahweh will restore Zion and its inhabitants (vv. 12-17) to a position of preeminence in the world (vv. 18-22).

[Does the psalmist see the distant millennium, or a particularly prosperous time in Israel’s immediate future?]

In words reminiscent of Hezekiah's at the time of his grave illness, the psalmist pleads for mercy and restoration to health, counting on the LORD's immutable character to see him through (vv. 23-28; cf. Is. 38; see also Heb. 1:10-12).

[The psalmist, recognizing his own mortality, turns to the eternal God as the only One who can save him from a premature demise].

Psalm 103

David praises God ("Bless the LORD") with his whole being for giving him manifold blessings—forgiveness, physical health, spiritual redemption, covenant mercy/love, physical food—and reminds himself not to forget what He has done for him (vv. 1-5).

As he recalls God's past righteous dealings, David refers to Yahweh’s word spoken to Moses (vv. 7, 8; cf. Exodus 34: 6, 7) by which He manifested His marvelous "name" during a period of covenant renewal.

In Exodus the LORD showed His mercy and forgiveness to Israel by not giving them what they deserved (vv. 9-10); now during the monarchy David celebrates these same attributes which still influence and relate to the current generation of covenant keepers.

[Note the three consecutive comparisons—“as the heavens . . . Him,” “as far as the east . . . from us,” “as a father . . . who fear Him”—which show God’s mercy, forgiveness, and compassion upon believers whom He knows to be mortal (vv. 11-14).

The comparison continues between mankind’s transitory nature (vv. 15-16) and the eternal attributes of God—mercy and righteousness—which He showers upon those who obey His covenant and commandments (vv. 17-18)].

After declaring the universal nature of Yahweh’s kingdom (v. 19), David frames his work, concluding it with another chorus of "Bless the LORD," this time addressing the mighty, obedient angels and all God's works (cf. v. 1; vv. 20-22).

[Believers must take time to recall God's goodness; it is a discipline essential for the maintenance of a right perspective toward life.

We must not let the inequities and unfairness in the world to cause us to forget the LORD].

Additional Commentary

Many folks in the West have turned away from belief in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, scoffing at the teaching that He will ever return to Earth.

"He's dead and gone, just like Moses and Mohammed," they say.

The Scriptures teach that He came the first time to pay the penalty for the sins of His chosen ones through His sacrificial death on the Cross.

The New Testament also informs us of Jesus' promise that He would return to Earth a second time to set up His kingdom.

He is patiently waiting until all His people come to faith in Him.

Where do you stand on this most important issue?

© 2013 glynch1


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