[Firstly, thanks so much to Tom and Donrich who wrote devotions for me in December on 1 & 2 Timothy! Such good content, thanks guys.]
Psalm 98 is a song, that was sung for a thousand years with a particular meaning and significance to God’s people.
But since the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus as our Messiah King, it now carries an even greater significance than the original composer could never have contemplated.
The composer sings of God’s deliverance of Israel from its enemies (vs1-3) how God is worthy of new songs, songs that express gratitude in new ways, fresh melodies and rhythms (vs1).
But for the believer in Jesus, this Psalm about salvation now carries even more profound meaning. God has now revealed His plan for salvation for His people, in fact, for all people through Jesus Christ (vs2).
The whole Old Testament pointed to the time when Jesus would come; however, those events could only be seen dimly to all those believers in the Old Testament.
But then Jesus did come (as we have just celebrated at Christmas) and God’s plan for salvation was revealed (Ephesians 3:9 & Colossians 1:24-29) in all its glory and wonder to the apostles and the early church.
God’s salvation story is no longer a mystery, but a mystery revealed to the praise of His glorious grace (Ephesians 1:3-10)!
So, ‘sing to the LORD and new song, for He has done marvellous things!’ (vs1)
For, God has worked salvation for us in a way that no one could ever have imagined. God became flesh and gave Himself for us to save us from Himself so that we could be with Him forever. Sing a new song about that – marvel at that!
God did this before all the nations. The great empire of Rome heard about it, ancient Greece. God made known His salvation not just to Israel but to every nation, to all people (vs2-3). So much so that every person on planet earth has their history and their calendars hinged around Jesus’ birth date! The good news of salvation through Jesus; ‘will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come’ (Matthew 24:14).
What was once Israel’s song, is not a song for anyone who will believe in King Jesus and bow their knee in glorious good surrender.
So, let the whole earth worship God for Jesus is the King of all kings. Jesus is worthy of majestic, beautiful worship with diverse instruments and melodies (vs4-6).
Let the whole of creation join in and worship King Jesus for he has come not just to redeem humankind but to redeem all things (Romans 8:19-23) and one day to declare; ‘Behold, I am making all things new!’ (Revelation 21:5)
Psalm 98 is an old song revitalised by new revelation, transforming it into an eternally relevant song about King Jesus. Worship Jesus today, sing your own new song, use your own worship let worship bubble up and out of you, He is worthy of all praise forever.
This Psalm is one with two bookends (vs1&9) that hold within them some reflection as the content held within those bookends of praise and exaltation of God.
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
King David here addresses God as Yahweh, the eternal self-existent and only God of all who is also ‘our God’, the One who made a covenant with His people and established a unique relationship based love and commitment with us.
King David breaks out in praise and worship delighting in how majestic God is in all the earth! When king David says; ‘how majestic is your name’ he is referring to God’s character, God’s attributes that are known to His people and in fact are known not just to His people, but known to the whole earth, all the nations because of the way God has intervened for His people and judged the nations of the earth!
The content between the bookends (vs2-8)
‘Out of the mouth of babies’ – the ESV commentators think that this phrase probably refers to God’s people who seem like little and insignificant babies compared to some of the impressive nations around them.
(vs2) David is reflecting on how God is His wisdom uses weak, small and seemingly insignificant people on the planet to make Himself known as the strong and mighty One, through His interactions with them and through their actions and history.
(vs3-4) David considers all the magnificent things God has made in creation, and finds it astounding that God has set His attention and affection on us, on human beings.
(vs5-8) And yet David knows that God’s given us as little human beings a position, a place, a role as His agents having authority & responsibility for everything on the planet, and that is just an amazing thing to think about, to ponder and to praise God for and a responsibility to take seriously.
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
At the end it all, Yahweh, our Yahweh we praise You for who You are and for what You’ve chosen to do, how You have set up the planet and how You have intervened for Your people, even for little me. I praise You, we praise You.
•Write down the names of God you know and what they say about WHO God is WHAT God has done and then praise God for those things.
•Do you feel week, think of the church as weak and insignificant? Can you see how God’s people have always felt like ‘babies’ compared to the nations? How does this encourage you to think differently?
•Consider the role God has entrusted to us within creation, are you taking that role seriously? What might need to change?
For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. – ESV
And you know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children. 12 We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For he called you to share in his Kingdom and glory. – NLT
Not all things in life have equal value. Friends who’ve watched a good film might encourage other to do so themselves. It’s not life altering, just a suggestion of something that might be nice. While a parent or a mentor might exhort or even plead with a young person to avoid certain places or people for their life’s sake or might even charge them to promise that they won’t do something or will do something of great importance…
The more important something is, the more urgent the appeals tend to become and the urgency of the appeals reveal something of the perceived importance of the matter to the person speaking.
So what is worth someone’s exhortation, pleading, encouraging, urging even their charging others?
Paul uses three phrases all in one sentence, translated as we ‘exhorted’, ‘encouraged’ and even ‘charged’, to stress how important this thing is that he wants to emphasise for them to make a priority in their lives….so what is it?
Paul is urgently insistent that the Thessalonian believers, that we ourselves would live our lives in such a way that God would consider those lives worthy of God’s having called us and saved us.
He feels like a dad as he says this. As a dad it’s a terrible thing when I see my kids taking something for granted, not valuing what they have been given, seeing them ignoring something incredible they’ve been blessed with, seeing no gratitude in their response.
The Christian life is a response. It’s a response to the wonder and mystery of the goodness and kindness and mercy of God’s saving love for us. The more we see the magnitude of what God’s done for us in sending Jesus to die in our place for our sin, the more we will respond with a life fuelled by gratitude expressed towards God who has loved us so incredibly. And that life will be a God-pleasing life! A life that is worthy, is an appropriate response, considering what God has done for us.
The Christian life is a response of whole life worship (Romans 12:1-2), not just 1-2hrs on a Sunday, but 24/7 worship of God in all and through all you do and say. That’s the type of life that Jesus’ gift to you and to me is worthy of.
So, how’s your life response, is it a worthy one?
What might you want to change?
What might God want you to change?
We love Jesus back by living our lives as a wholehearted response to His wholehearted giving of Himself for us. We do so not out of a sense of debt and trying to pay Jesus back but rather out of gratitude for who He is and what He has done for us – we respond by loving Jesus back with our whole lives.
And this is worth exhorting, encouraging & charging others with!
We don’t always feel like worshipping. When the circumstances of our lives are dire, when we are feeling attacked by others or crushed by the pressures of some circumstance, we might not ‘feel’ like worshiping but that is exactly the moment we could to choose to worship God as David did from the cave of Adullam.
In this moment in David’s life he was being accused and persued by his own people as an outcast. Psalm 57:4 captures the feelings he was experiencing;
My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts – the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords (Psalm 57:4)
In moments like this when it feels like everyone, everything is against me, it is possible to be overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings regarding your plight, in moments like these we are often more inclined to grumble concerning our plight…
But not David in this psalm. David might feel desperate but he chooses to worship God in the midst of his trial, in the midst of the very real and present threat of danger he is in.
In verse 1 in prayer he throws himself into God’s mercy and declares that God is his refuge, a safe place to shelter in until the storms pass by. But by verse 5 begins to worship, he might not feel like worshipping but worship he does;
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth. (Psalm 57:5)
He contrast between vs4&5 is extreme. David has chosen to worship God, his eyes have lifted from his circumstances so that he sees God again as He is, exalted as the glorious One in the heavens!
Worship is a choice, not merely a feeling. And when we choose to worship even in the midst of perplexing and or challenging circumstances we have chosen wisely. We see more clearly, we get perspective, we get reconnected to the experience of God’s love for us.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! May we choose to worship not just when we feel like it but because God is worthy of our worship because of who He is and what He has done.