“Sing a new song to the Lord,
for He has done wonderful deeds.
His right hand has won a mighty victory;
His holy arm has shown his saving power!
Shout to the Lord, all the earth;
break out in praise and sing for joy!
Let the sea and everything in it shout His praise!
Let the earth and all living things join in.
Let the rivers clap their hands in glee!
Let the hills sing out their songs of joy
before the Lord,
for He is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with justice,
and the nations with fairness.”
Psalms 98:1, 4, 7-9 NLT
Another tremendous Psalm of joy and praise. Reading it, I get the impression that there has been a victory after a battle, and the Psalmist is giving God the credit, mentioning His “mighty deeds”, “mighty victory” and “saving power”. In those earlier days in Israel’s history, there was constant friction between the Jews and their neighbours. I suppose it hasn’t changed much today.
But I also get the impression that the Psalmist, probably reflecting national thought, expected this to be perhaps the first, or another, skirmish in what he hoped would be the process of God judging and passing sentence on the hapless neighbouring countries in that war-torn region on our planet. The Jews had an expectation that God would ultimately deal with the political situation in Palestine and fulfil His promise of driving out the nations that were populating their “promised land”.
We also have skirmishes in our lives. We have a “promised land” in the Kingdom of God, and although, as Christians, we are already populating it, we are still having problems with the “neighbours”. Our sins encroach on our inheritance. The enemy, the devil, is doing his best to stop us settling into our new life in God. Secular society ostracises those who stray away from the herd, taking the moral high ground, adopting counter-cultural ways, challenging belief systems. But we look to God for salvation, for a new life free from sin and the devil and all things bad. We can thank God for the small victories in our pilgrimage through life. We can praise and worship the Lord Almighty, the God who graciously loves us, who supports us, who picks us up when we fall, and beckons us on to the new Jerusalem, just over the horizon of our consciousness.
I’m overwhelmed by God’s grace this morning. As Christians we worship a God who is not a remote and distant deity, only interacting with His people on a whim, when He feels like it. We worship a God who so loved us that He actually came to this planet. God’s Son, Jesus, took on human flesh, and lived amongst us. He was part of a family. He worked for a living. He had such compassion on His fellow countrymen that He worked tirelessly amongst them, healing, teaching, loving. He felt the rejection of being counter-cultural, challenging the value systems and beliefs of His day. And He died for us, taking on our sins at Calvary. Through love He paid the ultimate price so that we could one day not only see the new Jerusalem in the distance, but one day live there with Him. What grace! What love! In this season of Advent, let us anew praise and worship the Lord “who has done wonderful deeds”.