“Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth!” Yahweh had revealed Himself to Moses and the children of Israel. He had called them out of slavery and given them a way to approach Him in worship. He had also given them His Law that made them a distinct group—separate from all the other nations. Nonetheless, Israel’s God was not just for Israel, He was the God of the entire earth. In the psalms that the Lord gave for His chosen people to sing, He placed on their lips a command for all the nations. People all over the world were told to sing to the Lord.
God had saved Israel from the Egyptians, but there was another deliverance that other people groups would also receive. They too would “tell of His salvation.” The other nations of the world had their own gods, but they were only “worthless idols” when it came to defeating the worst enemies of humanity—sin and death.
The commandments of the Lord created a very exclusive worship. God had given His people rules about who could come into His presence. The holiest place in His tabernacle was off limits to almost everyone. Yet in Psalm 96, Israel sang a song to all the “families of the peoples.” They were all to “ascribe” to the Lord “glory and strength.” They were to acknowledge publicly that the God of Israel was the singular Mover who was working His will in all things. They were invited to “bring an offering,” and to “come into His courts.” Above all they were called to admire His great holiness and to imitate His moral perfection by obeying His commandments.
Yahweh created the earth and sustained it. He called everyone all over the world to publicly testify to this truth in reverent songs of praise. They were to say with all the Israelites, “The Lord reigns!” All the nations of the earth needed to sing about Him, not only as the God who had given them every good gift, but as the Lord who would one day judge everyone with perfect equity.
The concept of a perfect divine judgment has always been very frightening. How could anyone survive, especially those who were not a part of Israel? But now great relief has come to all the tribes of the earth through the gospel of the Jewish Messiah. The Son of God has met the holy demands of God’s Law for all who trust in Him.
He is coming to “judge the earth,” but those who believe in Him have much reason for rejoicing. He is bringing a perfect resurrection world with Him when He comes. Even “the trees of the forest” will “sing for joy” when Jesus returns. Our worship today is informed by our faith regarding tomorrow. All who believe His promises can join in His songs of praise. “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice.”
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Father God, we sing to You in worship day by day. You are great. The idols of the world are nothing. You made the heavens and the earth. People everywhere should praise You. The true worshiper should bring You perfect holiness. Is this not what Your Son has done for us? He has rescued us through His righteousness and His atoning death. He will come again to judge the earth.