Tuesday, August 01, 2023

2023.08.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 96:7–13

Read Psalm 96:7–13

Questions from the Scripture text: What triple command begins the second half of the Psalm (Psalm 96:7a, verse 7b, Psalm 96:8a)? To Whom is this giving to be done? Who are to give it? What are they to give? To what of the LORD’s is this glory especially due? To where are they to bring the tribute (verse 8b, cf. Leviticus 2)? Having brought the tribute, what are they to do there (Psalm 96:9a)? What is the beauty of that place? Who are to do what in verse 9b? What is to be said among whom (Psalm 96:10a, cf. Psalm 96:3)? What wonders, in particular, show this reign in creation and providence (Psalm 96:10b–d)? What parts of creation “join” in this great praise (Psalm 96:11-12, cf. Psalm 96:1-2; Psalm 95:1–2)? When, especially, will this happen (Psalm 96:13, cf. Romans 8:18–26)?

What does the great conclusion to redemptive history declare? Psalm 96:7–13 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these seven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the great conclusion to redemptive history declares the glory of YHWH.  

In the first six verses, we already had hints that this Psalm was for a future event. It is a “new song” that the LORD has given for a new work. Specifically, that work involves “the nations” and “all peoples” Psalm 96:3. But in the second half the future-event setting of the song becomes even clearer.

A song of the LORD, by the peoples, for the peoples. “All peoples” hear the declaration of the song in Psalm 96:3b, and the nations hear the song in verse 3a and Psalm 96:10a. It is about the LORD judging the peoples (verse 10d) and the world (Psalm 96:13b) righteously, and about the LORD judging the peoples with His truth (verse 13c). But a great part of the glory of this psalm is that it is not just sung for the peoples but by the peoples: “Give to Yahweh, O families of the peoples” (Psalm 96:7a)! As the believer sings this song, the blessing promised to Abraham in Genesis 12:3c comes into view: “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Give to YHWH! The first half of the Psalm had begun with the triplicate command “Sing!” Now the second begins with the triplicate command “Give!” All of human history, all of its glory, all of its strength, is owed unto the Lord as the tribute that is due unto Him as sovereign. The word belongs to the second of the three great offerings in Leviticus 1–3 and is a joyous expression of fealty from the subject to his Sovereign. Psalm 96:8-9 view all the earth as coming into the temple courts. But this is greater than the temple of Solomon. Its beauty is not structures that glitter with gold but the very holiness of God Himself (Psalm 96:9a)! There, an entire world’s worth of worshipers are literally shaken with reverence (verse 9b)—a verb so “moving” that it is often translated as dancing. 

Reversing the Fall. It is not just the nations but the very creation that enjoys the salvation that has occasioned the new song. The world is now firmly established and does not move (different word, but synonym for “tremble” in Psalm 96:9b). Indeed, although it is “groaning and laboring” until the “now” of Romans 8:22, Psalm 96 looks to something far further in the future: the day when the creation itself is “delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21) on the day that our own groaning ends in “the redemption of our body” (cf. Romans 8:23). Psalm 96:11-12 sing the joy of the world, far as the curse was found (past tense!). Here, then, is a song the Lord has already written in which our singing will be joined by the new heavens and new earth (n.b. Psalm 96:11a)!

Second Advent. From Psalm 96:10-12, it is already obvious that this song has in view especially the last day. But Psalm 96:13 seals it. For, this is the coming of YHWH to judge the earth, the world, and the peoples in righteousness and truth. The ruler of this world has been judged, in a decisive way, by the first coming of Christ (cf. John 12:27–33). But Christ’s first coming affirmed the wonderful truth that there would be two advents. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). He came first to be lifted up and draw people from all these nations to Himself. But this song is especially for when He comes, having already gathered them, and all who have ever lived on the earth are resurrected unto judgment (cf. John 5:28–29). 

So, redemptive history (world history!) ends not only in a judgment but in a great song. A new song. A song of the glory of YHWH. Joyous subjects rendering the proper tribute to their King. And already, hundreds of years before Christ, this hope was so sure and so glad that God’s people were already singing the new song. And now we sing it with them!

If you are not an Israelite, how is your singing Psalm 96 already a partial fulfillment of the Psalm? What does it teach you to long for? What does it teach you to be sure of? What does it teach you to rejoice over already? How would this help you in your daily life in this world?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we come to give You Your due: all glory and strength unto Your Name. How we thank You that even we might be welcomed to gather in Your courts! How we thank You that the beauty in which we worship is not a temple of gold, or a beautifully decorated hall, but the beauty of Your very holiness! We long for the day when New Heaven and New Earth will join us. But since the rocks still groan, rather than crying out with praise, grant unto us all the more help from Your Spirit to sing the new song already as new creatures in Jesus Christ, in Whose Name we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP96B “Ascribe unto the LORD” or TPH96 “Sing to the Lord, Sing His Praise”

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