Lessons from Psalm 96, part 1

Many years ago, when I lived in Mississippi, my church was the designated place for a welcome home reception for soldiers from Camp Shelby returning from Iraq. The women in my church cooked up a feast worthy of hero’s welcome. I volunteered to be a greeter, and I’ve never forgot that experience.

The families of these soldiers spent weeks getting ready for their reunion, no doubt telling everyone that their loved one was coming home. The return of a soldier symbolizes a new beginning, a new chapter—better than one before, a time to rebuild and restore all that has been taken from them. There is joy in the longing, the anticipation, and all the hopes that this reunion represents.

When the day of the reception arrived, the news media showed up. There were photographers, balloons, flowers, welcome home banners, and new babies—the celebration was electric! The two buses packed with soldiers, came straight from the airport. When they pulled into the parking lot there were cheers and tears. The months of loneliness and hardship melted away. And for a brief moment in time, the earth’s rotation stopped, and all was well in world.

We too are waiting for our Hero’s return. Our Savior Jesus promised us that one day he would return, not as a sacrificial lamb but as the King of Kings. When he comes it will be a new beginning, a new chapter, a time to rebuild and restore all that has been lost.

His future return is a cause for celebration even now. In fact, it’s an event so great we must tell the whole world about it

This week I’ve been teaching Psalm 96. The theme is: Our King is coming—get the whole world ready.

Some of you are thinking, I thought psalms were Old Testament. Yes, that’s correct. The Old Testament teaches that the LORD is the King over all the earth. And shrouded in mystery is his promise that one day he will come to rule and reign on earth. When he comes he will rebuild and restore all that has been lost

Psalm 96 is one of seven Divine Kingship songs, also called Enthronement psalms (47, 93, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99). In these psalms we find a repeated phrase: “the LORD is King” and “the LORD reigns.”

Enthronement psalms remind God’s people that the LORD is the King over all the earth. Every thing and everyone is under his sovereign rule.

A quick scan of the verses shows us who this psalm is for, and who this psalm is about:
• all the earth v1
• all nations v3
• all peoples v3
• all families of nations v7
• all creation v11-12
The message of this psalm is for every person in every place.

What are all these people to do? The verbs tell us: sing, praise, proclaim, declare, ascribe, come into his courts, bring an offering, worship, tremble, say “the LORD reigns”, rejoice, be glad. These are verbs of worship and proclamation. Every person in every place is to worship and proclaim.

And why should every person in every place worship and proclaim? Because:
• The LORD is great v4
• He is worthy v4
• He is to be feared v4
• He is a God of splendor, majesty, strength & glory v6
• the LORD reigns over the whole world v10
• he is coming to rule the world in righteousness and truth v13.

Every person in every place is to worship and proclaim who God is and what he has done, because he is coming to rule the world in righteousness.

The psalm builds to a climactic conclusion with certainty and urgency: the LORD is coming to rule and reign on earth—get the whole world ready.

How do we get the world ready? The obvious answer is TELL THEM.

John Piper in his book, Let the Nations be Glad, writes: The ultimate goal of the church is not missions—it’s worship. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Missions is the vehicle through which the world will come to know him, so that they can worship him.

Jesus gave his followers the same commission that God gave the Jews:
Go into all the world, tell them about Me, and make disciples for My kingdom.

Psalm 96 is a prophetic psalm of worldwide worship, anticipating the time when the LORD will establish his kingdom on earth, and all will worship him. It is both a cause for celebration & a warning.

There is a time limit before the great reunion, so we must tell the whole world now. Tell every person in every place, who God is and what he has done, so that they’ll be ready when he comes.

More next week on this amazing psalm.

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