Joy for the World
Joy for the World
We are in a series on the psalms. For December we are going to be looking at some psalms that connect with the coming of Jesus. I hope this gives us a deeper understanding of the book of psalms and helps us see some unique aspects of Christmas. I also hope that it is not too different from what we have been doing throughout the series. Every psalm connects with themes, promises, hopes, that find their fulfillment in Jesus.
Today we are looking at a psalm that points to themes. One of the main themes in this psalm is to sing.
Psalm 98:1 A Psalm. Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. 2 The LORD has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. 3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. 4 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! 5 Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody! 6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD! 7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! 8 Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together 9 before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity. (Psa 98:1)
Prop: This psalm points to an enlivening work of God that reverberates through all creation, causing everything and everyone to sing and rejoice of the salvation God brings. Sometimes you see bad things happen that silence people. Bad news travels and makes people sad. Drought drys everything up, takes away life. But this work of God brings life, celebration, joy.
One of the first things to see in this psalm is the call to sing. Singing has always been a main part of church services. Break forth into “joyous song and sing praises” (v4). Sang at last supper, in jail, etc. It is an appropriate response to the goodnews of the gospel. When you read the birth account of Jesus notice how many times people burst into song.
Zechariah burst into song about the announcement of John the Baptist (Luke 1:67).
Mary burst into song at the announcement of the child she would bear (Luke 1:46).
The old man Simeon sings when he takes the baby Jesus into his arms (Luke 2:28)
When you think about Christmas you probably think about songs. Music is a result of the heart overflowing. What is the grinch without the town of Whoville singing. What is A Christmas Carol without Scrooge erupting in praise at the end. What is George Bailey if he is not running through Bedford Falls with shouts of joy over his wonderful life. Likewise, what is church without songs, shouts, praise.
Here the focus is on a new song. God has done a new work and it merits the praise of his people. In the church there is no debate that we should sing. But there is debate on what we sing. Some like slow songs, some like fast songs, some want a big drum, others a big guitar. Those are all preferences. One debate in worship songs is that some people want only traditional songs, hymns that have survived time. I like those songs and we want to sing those but not to the exclusion of others. We serve the living God. He is constantly working in the world and in our lives and we want to sing of his works. We want to do new songs as it says here. Even the old songs were new at some point. Let’s embrace that. But also consider writing down what God has done in your life, how he has moved.
Sing in his presence. This is what is most important. Being in the presence of the king. Seeing him in it all. Remembering his work. Take this away and you have nothing.
[“make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD! (Psa 98:6 ESV)
A natural inclination that when something good has happened you want to dance, shout, clap, sing. fresh original composition.
“The psalms we sing now are a rehearsal, and God’s presence among his worshippers is a prelude to his appearing to the world.” Kidner
There is also an exhortation. He is exhorting the people to sing and to praise God. It's an imperative in verse 1 (sing) and verse 4 (make a joyful noise). It doesn’t say to be in tune or on beat. Just make a noise. Loud and proud. But we need to be stirred to that. Being in church is not about being comfortable. We are here to stir one another!
Why the need for an exhortation? Because of our natural inclination to dullness. Laziness. We do not actively stir up the things that need to be stirred up. Sometimes we use music to reflect our mood and sometimes we use it to get us in the right mood.
Oobleck. I want to illustrate our need to have our hearts roused to God’s work (can make this available for the youth too). I have some water and I have some corn starch (½ water and ¾ cornstarch). I’m combining these into two cups. One cup I am going to let sit unmoved. The other cup I am going to hold in my hand and stir. BTW this illustration came from The Gospel Project that we use in our kids ministry. It has some great illustrations … Now look at these two. The cup that I am stirring is flowing with my spoon. The one that I did not stir is now rock hard. (Turn upside down). Cornstarch has an inclination to solidify, get stagnant, and it has to be stirred to keep it from doing that. Your natural inclination is to grow hard and cold to God’s word. You have to push back against that.
We want to stir ourselves to worship. That means sing. But it means more than that too. Are you following God’s commands. Are you living the life he calls you to live. If not you can get settled and comfortable. A life with no real sacrifice. Are you reaching out to others? Who’s your one. Are you in fellowship with others. These are ways we stir one another.
Church once a year? Sounds stagnant. Not reaching out to others? Not discipling? Not praying for the people you are reaching out to. Just showing up to do your thing and go about your life with little interruption. Not repenting? Rock hard. We need to heed the exhortation. We need to see the goodnews, celebrate it in all of life.
Trans… He calls people to magnify the name of God on account. God has manifested his salvation in a singular and incredible manner. It is a goodnews with substance. Not just, “hey sing loud.” But here is why. God has worked salvation.
God has done wonderful things, things so great you can't fully understand. So many Christmas movies start with a dead and hardhearted person who in the end is softened through an experience and come alive. Come alive in singing, joy. This is who we are made to be. It is who we become in Christ.
Sing for God’s Work
God has brought salvation and it causes us to sing, it moves us to sing. All of our obedience in the Christian life overflows from what God has done for us. A command is not what should motivate us. We need to see the substance of the reason. It is God’s work of salvation.
His hand works salvation. Yashah occurs three times in the first three verses. Theme of the psalm. This is what the people were longing for. For God to take away their distress, deliver them from their enemies, put down those who are doing evil and lift up those who are doing what is right. It is the day of judgement. This, Yeshuah, is where the name Jesus comes from. Remember when Jesus is born they are told to name him Jesus. He will save his people from their sins.
[“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." (Mat 1:21 ESV)
v9 sums up the hope of this psalm, “for he comes.” This could certainly point to some of the things God did in the Old Testament, but it most clearly connects to the coming of God’s son. Jesus comes to deliver his people. He comes to deliver people from their sin. He shows his care. You don’t go live with someone you don’t care about. God came to dwell with his people. He is born to die. He experiences all of our pain and hardship in order to deliver us from them all.
The work of salvation combines many things of God. It is an expression of his love. But this work also manifests his righteousness, judgement, faithfulness. How can God pardon sinners and still be just. You would be outraged if a judge let a guilty person go free. He would be unjust. So how can God do this? Take some time to really think through that. Read your Bible and I bet if you read you will really start to marvel, and then sing, and change your life.
This song celebrates God’s work of salvation.
His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. (Psa 98:1 ESV)
It is his work. God brought it and made it happen. Remember going to a friends house in college and his dad was out working on the house. In jest I said, “Mr Stanley, how come you can't get David out here to help.’ He looked at me and said, “It ain't worth the trouble.” He had a problem but couldn't get his son to do it so he did it himself. This is how salvation is. We bring the same problems that got us into the problem in the first place. No one else could do it.
He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. (Isa 59:16 NIV)
Rubix Cube. Gospel. Some people view the gospel like it is the a,b,c’s of the christian life. It’s the basics and you graduate and move on. The gospel is a-z. It is the letters you use every day. The gospel isn’t just that you die and go to heaven. Yes, that is part of it. But the gospel is why you do everything. It motivates you. It causes you to love God, to adore God, to worship at the top of your lungs. It fills you with joy.
He remembers his promises. God made promises in the past and acted to bring them about. Promises Abraham his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. And began to see that fulfilled as they became a nation. Promised David would have a descendant who would reign forever and through all the attacks, setback, dire circumstances David experienced God saved him from them all. So too we look at the birth of Christ and know that God remembers. He remembers his promises.
Do you think he has forgotten you? Do you think that he doesn’t care for you? He remembers you. Called you by name, knows all that you do, think and say. He remembers you, and he remembers the promise he has made to you. Do you remember his promise? Maybe you have forgotten…
What is your theme song for life? Cream, “Born under a Bad sign. I've been down since I began to crawl. If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all. Bad luck and trouble been my only friend. I've been down since I was ten.” That was what filled my life. But now through God’s work I have hope, I have a new song. “You’ve given me so much, more than I'd ever dreamed...” Amazing Grace.
God forgotten you or have you forgotten what he did? Our outward gloom… Santa.
God has worked salvation for us. He is doing new things today, but it is really just an application of what he has already secured. He does works to bring us into a greater understanding and awareness of that work. He reveals his character to us.
This work causes us to sing and also all the earth...
All the Earth/Nations:
Look at who is singing in this psalm. God has done a work and it ripples through all of creation. Victory is for the whole earth, for the nations. It is not just one people group. God is drawing all people to himself through the work of his Son. When Jesus is born Angels worship, magi come from Persia, shepherds come from the fields, kings recognize it.
[a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel." (Luk 2:32 ESV)
Psalm 96 follows a similar pattern and organization as this psalm. It calls nations to say to the “The Lord reigns” (v10).
All creation that is praising God. The rivers, seas, mountains sing together. They clap their hands. Together. They are in sync. We have seen “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, (Psa 2:2 ESV). they are united. Psalmist prays for God to help his heart be united to fear God’s name (Psa 86:11 ESV).
The mountains are united in rhythm of praising God. We need to see the gospel for what it is. Angels worshipped. Wise men came from the far reaches to see Jesus born. I hear people often talk about not wanting to go to church so they can enjoy a mountain hike. There is a place for that and don’t be legalistic about missing church. But you have to admit it’s ironic that all creation is ready to erupt into praise at the news of what is taught in churches, and people are in those churches thinking it’s irrelevant. It’s a reminder we need to see things as God sees it.
The Christmas song Joy to the World captures this theme from Psalm 98.
Joy to the world! The Lord is come:
let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare him room
and heaven and nature sing. Joy to the earth! the Saviour reigns:
let men their songs employ
while fields and floods rocks hills and plains
repeat the sounding joy.
God works salvation and it ripples outward to all nations and people. This is like the ultimate video clip that goes viral. There is joy for the world because of what Jesus has done.
This is the heart of evangelism. The heart of missions. John Piper said “Missions exists because worship does not.” It is taking good news to those who don’t have anything. God has done an amazing, marvelous work that all people can experience. It's not available for just a few people. It's available for the world and they should stir us to move, share it. There is a movement in this psalm.
And it means we need to get in line with what God is doing in the world. Are you overflowing in excitement of what God has done. Is the gospel a marvelous thing to you. Does it cause you to sing, and dance, and laugh, and love.
Christmas is not about getting stuff, watching movies, santa claus. It’s about becoming fully alive every day of the year. It’s about seeing others come alive every day of the year. Yes give Christmas gifts out of the overflow what Christ has done for you. How are you making Christ paramount this season. Every part of life.
Discipleship is about movement, multiplying. Who are you discipling, who are you being discipled by, who are you helping this news flow through and who is helping it to flow through you. You can't just do the same thing you have always done and expect a different result. We all need to change. How are you celebrating God’s work. Sharing God’s work.