Bible sunlight

There is a promised rest for followers of Christ during these insecure national days when “worthless” gods seem to have the upper hand. Run the evening news through the filter of Psalm 96 today and find God’s rest and worship Him.

Three of our grandkids slept over all last week. They attended day camp nearby and spent the nights with us. Wonderfully and characteristically kids, they woke up hungry and had breakfast before they left the house and then ate breakfast again at camp. Though they just had “canteen” before we picked them up, they—wonderfully and characteristically—talked about dinner all the way home.

Kids don’t see much beyond the moment, but followers of Christ do see beyond the horizons of age and our situations. We look forward to the coming of Christ and His resolution of earthly evils and, positively speaking, our resurrection life with Him forever. Psalm 96 offers us a practical orientation while we wait.

The orientation is worship—and in the larger story of the rest of Scripture it is both as an individual and with gathered followers of Christ. Psalm 96 is filled with action words that offer a new perspective and ongoing renewal. Immediately a thoughtful reader will notice the call to worship with hearty words of worship: sing, bless, declare, ascribe (give), worship, tremble, and be glad. Take a minute...

“Oh sing to the LORD a new song” (v. 1). Catch the enthusiasm of “Oh.” And, in what sense is our song “new”? There is always a need for new musical expressions and offerings in each generation, but the idea goes deeper and is “a fresh outburst of praise to God.” In context, just before Psalm 96, Psalm 95 ends implicitly offers rest for God’s people but also the terrible reality that too many refuse it in disobedience (95:11). Psalm 96:1 explodes on the scene with an “outburst” of praise. A faithful Jewish reader would need that recovery and promise after the devastating reminder of Psalm 95:11. Don’t we?!

Rest was not only a place (Canaan) for Israel but also the position of an open and receptive heart at peace with God (95:8). “Day to day” (96:2) we get to transcend our circumstances with a heart-sourced “fresh outburst of praise” to God. Could this be part of what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he instructed us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)?

Why do we worship in troubles and trials? The answer to “why?” is rooted in who we worship. Our view of God and His works colors every moment of worship. In Psalm 96, see Yahweh as glorious, great, to be revered, Creator, full of splendor and majesty, Holy, and Judge!

The psalm ends with the promised future when Messiah Jesus Christ will return to “judge the world in righteousness and His people in faithfulness” (v. 13). Note the gods/idols of this world are “worthless” (v. 5). Why do we trust them?

Father, create in me a hunger to worship You all day long and to give up on all my worthless gods.