Scripture reading – Psalm 97; Psalm 98

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Today’s Scripture readings, Psalm 97 and Psalm 98, have a prophetic application. I suggest that both of the psalms are depictions of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Psalm 97


The LORD on His Throne (Psalm 97:1-6)

Psalm 97 opened with the LORD reigning as King and the inhabitants of the earth rejoicing (Psalm 97:1). Christ was presented in His majesty with the “clouds and darkness…round about Him,” and His judgment as one of righteousness and judgment (Psalm 97:2).  The LORD is just and holy and “fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about” (Psalm 97:3). The earth trembled and nothing could stand in His “presence,” for God is holy (Psalm 97:4-5). Look up, for “the heavens declare [God’s] righteousness, and all the people see his glory” (Psalm 97:6).


The Shame and Confusion of the Heathen (Psalm 97:7)

When Christ reigns, the heathen who have worshipped and served “graven images” will find their idols are not gods. They are, in the words of the psalmist, “The work of men’s hands. 16They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; 17They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths” (Psalm 135:15-17).


The Rejoicing of the Saints of God (Psalm 97:8-9)

When the people of Zion (i.e., Jerusalem) heard how the heathen were confounded and put to shame, they rejoiced (Psalm 97:8). For there is none like the LORD our God for He is exalted, “high above all the earth… [and] above all gods” (Psalm 97:9).


The Righteous and God’s Blessings (Psalm 97:10-12)

How do the righteous prove their love for the LORD? They “hate evil” (Psalm 97:10a), the evil way, and the path that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). They love the LORD and keep their feet far from wickedness.

Because God loves the righteous, He preserves them (guards; watches over them, Psalm 97:10b). Yet, the righteous find they are hated and persecuted. However, the LORD will, in the end, save them “out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 97:10). To the righteous, the LORD gives light, and He rejoices the heart (Psalm 97:11-12).

Psalm 98 – “Sing unto the LORD a New Song”

Psalm 98, like Psalm 97, was a prophetic reflection on the Second Coming of Christ. Psalm 98 inspired Isaac Watts’ memorable hymn, “Joy to the World” (although sung at services reflecting on Christ’s birth, it is, in fact, a celebration of Christ’s Second Coming). Psalm 98 invites believers to worship the LORD in song and rejoice in His salvation and righteousness (Psalm 98:2).

First Stanza: “Sing unto the LORD a new song” (Psalm 98:1-3)

What was this “new song?” It was a song of victory and praise to the LORD for His strength and power (Psalm 98:1-2a). It was a song of redemption and praise to God for His grace (Psalm 98:2b). Finally, it was a song of rejoicing for the LORD was faithful, and He had not forgotten Israel (Psalm 98:3).

Second Stanza: A Call to all Nations to Worship the LORD (Psalm 98:4-6)

The Temple musicians were Levites and trained, skilled, and dedicated musicians. The sound of their voices and instruments was not noise (Psalm 98:4) but an energetic expression in music and song. The “joyful noise” and the “loud noise” was a “shout,” or cry or triumph (Psalm 98:4, 6).

The music of the Tabernacle, and later the Temple, was not meant to entertain the congregation. The focus of the music was the LORD, and His holiness was reflected in both the message (words) and the music. Accompanied by string instruments (the harp, vs. 5) and wind instruments (trumpets and coronet, vs. 6), the focus of worship was “the LORD, the King” (Psalm 98:6).

Third and Final Stanza: A Call to Creation to Worship the LORD (Psalm 98:7-9)

Only when creation is freed from the curse of sin, and the LORD ushers in His millennial kingdom, will all creation rejoice (Psalm 98:7-8). Romans 8:18-25 reveals the devastating effect man’s sin has upon creation, and the world will not be delivered “from the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21) until the Second Coming of Christ.

Closing thoughts –

Violent storms, earthquakes, and, yes, pandemics remind us that “creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together” (Romans 8:22). When Christ comes again, He will right the wrongs and judge the earth in His righteousness (Psalm 98:9). Think about that the next time you sing:

“Joy to the World, the LORD is Come!”

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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