“The Lord Has Made Known His Salvation” — Kenneth Moore

The children of God must understand that He sees and knows our struggles. He sees every heartache and every tear; He is not emotionally distant from what we are going through. God understands our suffering, and He allows us to petition Him for guidance and comfort. The Psalms demonstrate this fact, showing the deepest emotions of their writers. Thematically present through certain kinds of Psalms are the laments of God’s faithful, often echoes of our own hearts in times of trouble and sorrow (e.g., Ps. 13).

If psalms of lamentation echo your heart today, I cannot promise to answer your every question or calm your every fear. However, God’s desire is for us to know and trust in His character as our deliverer. Yes, our Lord’s salvific power is worth pondering, even if we struggle to comprehend it. At countless times, God has sheltered His people with care and protection. The three stanzas of Psalm 98 offer reminders of these truths, ultimately showing that our Deliverer is worthy of our praise. The 98th Psalm is by no means a psalm of lamentation, but it ought to inform our attitude as we trust in His power to save.

The first verse opens the psalm with worship, as the psalmist shows that God is worthy of a “new song.” Though our songs may naturally repeat, may they never grow monotonous. We must never approach God with tired praise and recycled worship, but we must approach Him as though it is our first and last time to do so. It is a great privilege to worship God, and it should not grow stale. We must approach wholeheartedly because he has done “marvelous” things that only a miracle-working and salvation-bringing God can do. The Israelites bring glory and honor to His name, as His might and holiness have brought them out of trouble. He has acted personally and powerfully on the Israelites’ behalf; He seeks to do the same for us.

The second and third verses elaborate on God’s salvation, as He has “made (it) known,” having revealed it to all the nations (v. 2). His righteousness is undeniable, even to those outside the nation of Israel. The Israelites sing about the sovereignty and justice of God, emphasizing His splendor. The text then says that God has “remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness” to Israel (v. 3). By this, the psalmist is not speaking of God as having forgotten something until reminded. He is speaking of the God who always remembers! The Israelites are praising God, who is our unendingly righteous, loving, and faithful deliverer. There is no point in time in which He is not trustworthy, and the whole world can clearly perceive that through what He has done for Israel. Already, the psalmist calls God’s people to remember His power, faithfulness, and presence.

The next several verses expound on the fact that God is worthy of worship. Worship to God should be “joyful,” with a multitude of jubilant cries in praise to His name (v. 4). God is worthy of this praise from all inhabitants of the earth, and He is worthy of even more. The Israelites worship Him with the lyre, giving added praise with “trumpets and the sound of the horn” (vs. 5-6). Christians do not worship in the manner of the Hebrews (Matt. 26:30; Acts 16:25), as we do not follow the commands of Moses but of Christ (Deut. 18:15; Matt. 17:1-8). However, we still should sing in a heartfelt manner (Eph. 5:19), apart from the physical embellishments of the Old Law. Despite this, we must not clarify these verses as we read; we should instead mirror the passion exemplified in them. Moreover, the most crucial words of verse six are those that indicate the recipient of our praise: “the King, the Lord!” He is our Lord, He is our deliverer, and He is the King over all creation.

His kingship is shown through the personification present in verses 7-8. The sea in all its fullness should “roar,” and the world should echo its lauding; the rivers “clap their hands” and the hills “sing for joy together.” Pantheism is nowhere readable in this context, nor any commentary on Christian worship. Rather, the truth of the creation’s subjection to its Creator is clear; if the physical world could praise God, it would be obligated to do so. If that is true, then what is stopping humanity from giving God the praise that He deserves?

Finally, verse nine indicates that the Lord is the judge of all the nations. It may confuse us that the psalmist remarks of God’s justice in the same writing that emphasizes His deliverance, love, and faithfulness. However, note that the psalmist never speaks of the Lord’s judgment with unwarranted fear, as the Lord judges with “righteousness” and “equity.” Recall that God’s righteousness and kindness are seen in all He does (Ps. 145:17); His judgment will be no exception.

Our initial focus on suffering is not lost on me.  Neither am I claiming that every issue of human suffering has a simple answer; claiming otherwise would be the height of insensitivity.  However, there is a respone we are able to have to our suffering, seeing to the fact that God has already figured out a solution.  After all the loss Job had endured, he “tore his robe and shave his head and fell on the ground and worshiped” (Job 1:20).  Worship and submission to God may not bring us answers, and it may not make our problems easier.  However, it does provide us with countless reminders of God’s character.  Remember, Christian, that the Lord is able and willing to save.  For that and more, He is worthy of our most passionate worship.

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