God’s Glorious Judgment

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June 25, 2017

Psalm 96

Allen Burns

Scripture Reading: Psalm 96 Sermon Title: God’s Glorious Judgment Sermon Text: Psalm 96 Memory Verse: Psalm 96:3 MAIN IDEA: Proclaim, worship, and rejoice in God’s glorious judgment. Proclaim God’s Glorious Judgment Worship God’s Glorious Judgment Rejoice in God’s Glorious Judgment Our Response Today   NOTE: “Scripture quotations are from the NASB." This manuscript is provided as a courtesy and is not intended for publication. The audio and video message differs from the manuscript. Thanks for understanding.   The first time Psalm 96 is sung is around 1000bc. It is recorded in 1 Chronicles 16. It is written at the beginning of the reign of King David. It is sung as a celebration of the Ark of the Covenant set upon its final resting place in Jerusalem. The Ark represents the presence and manifestation of God among the people of Israel (Psalm 132: 1-5). Bringing the Ark to Jerusalem is a high-priority for the newly crowned King. Psalm 96 is written during a high-point in the history of Israel. They are free from slavery in Egypt. The journey through the wilderness is complete. Their enemies are defeated, and the beloved King David sits on the throne. They live in peace and prosperity in the Promised Land which flows with milk and honey. The Ark of the Covenant, symbolizing God’s presence, sits high in the city of Jerusalem. The Israelites have done nothing to deserve such goodness. They are in their position because of God’s undeserved favor. God rescues them from darkness and brings them to peace and prosperity in the Promised Land. The Israelites are a miserable, complaining, and sinful people. We might say that they deserved being left in Egypt. But, God is glorious. God shows His glory to the nation of Israel. God’s glory is summed up in the proclamation of His glory to Moses on Mount Sinai. The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, (Exodus 34:6-7) The Israelites know that their life of peace in Jerusalem is because of God’s glory. King David knows it is because of God’s glory he sits on the throne. To give praise where praise is due, King David orders Asaph to write a psalm to commemorate the day. The purpose of the psalm is to instruct God’s people and have them meditate on what is true. In singing the psalm, the Israelites proclaim together in a unified voice a fitting response to the work of God in Israel. Imagine King David, calling to Asaph, and giving him orders. “Asaph, we will bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. Write a psalm to commemorate the event. Glorify God for His goodness.” Imagine we are in the shoes of Asaph. The psalm is written. The Holy Spirit of God gives us the words. We return to King David, and we read the words express to the King the meaning. Asaph approaches King David’s throne with confidence and joy. “King David, the psalm is complete. Here is your copy. It is written in three sections. The first section commands the Israelites to proclaim God’s glorious judgment.”

Proclaim God’s Glorious Judgment

The psalm begins with expressing we are to sing and proclaim the glory of God and His salvation. If I may King David, please allow me to read the lines and express the thoughts behind the lines. Sing to the LORD a new song. We are not to sing to our family, the army, the priests, our neighbor, or even to you King David. We are to sing to the Lord. Yahweh is our deliverer. We are not to sing yesterday’s song, but we are to sing to the Lord a new song of today. Let there be a freshness to the words, let it be a bright song, with new notes and new lyrics. Let the paper from which we sing be fresh with ink. When tomorrow comes, we will sing another new song, and that song will be filled with words expressing the new work of the Lord. Sing of new mercies. Sing of new bread on our tables. Sing of a new day with new peace and rest from our enemies. Sing to the LORD, all the earth. Let there be no voice excluded. May all the earth as far as the eye sees, sing to the Lord. People beyond Israel must sing to the Lord. Children, sing to the Lord. Grandparents, sing to the Lord. Rich, poor, healthy and sick, slave, or free, sing to the Lord. Sing to the LORD, all the earth. Bless His name. Let no one curse the Lord, but bless the name of the Lord. Let the name of Yahweh, flow from our lips as a cherished word. Speak the Lord’s name with reverence. As His name is spoken, may joy cover our face. Let those who hear us speak the name of the Lord see worship and adoration from our heart. May our ears take joy to hear our lips speak the name of our Lord God. Bless the name of the Lord. Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day. God’s people are to continually proclaim the great news of how the Lord God saves. The good tiding of His salvation is news which must be proclaimed and heard. We may not let one day pass without proclaiming the salvation of God. Tell of His glory among the nations. Send a delegation to Ophir and tell them God alone is all-knowing and all-powerful. Let the people of Egypt know Yahweh was, Yahweh is, and Yahweh forevermore shall be. Tell the people of Canaan to forsake their idols and find forgiveness with the Lord. Tell of His wonderful deeds among all the peoples. Let no one pass by without hearing of God’s destruction of wickedness in the time of the great flood and His salvation of Noah upon the ark. Go upon the housetop and tell of God providing a sacrifice to Abraham to save Isaac from the knife of sacrifice. Speak of God bringing the Israelites through dry land out of the land of Egypt. Speak of His forgiveness in the wilderness. Tell of how He speaks through His prophets. King David. These are commands the people must obey. They are to sing and proclaim the salvation of the Lord day to day. But, they must also know the reason why they should sing a new song. We bless His name and proclaim good tidings of His salvation because the Lord is great and deserving of our praise. For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised.  The Lord’s greatness reaches from one end of creation to the other. We see firsthand His greatness. He is great, and praise of Him is to be great. Don’t praise a great God with little praise. Don’t praise Him with a timid voice or with a whisper which is not heard. Let there be no half-hearted or lukewarm praise for the Lord deserving of all our praise. Bring forth thunderous adoration and wave after wave of joyous worship. Praise Him greatly for He is great. He is to be feared above all gods.  For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Idols do not inflict wrath. The Idols of the nations do not provide manna from heaven. They do not lead through the wilderness. Idols made by human hands fade away and are destroyed. They do not speak themselves into being. They are not to be feared. God is to be feared. He sees all and knows all. He judges evil. He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. The Almighty is a perfect judge demanding holiness in His creation. He judges the Egyptians who worship false gods. He judges the blasphemy of the Philistines. He rains down His wrath on Sodom and Gomorrah. Every transgressor faces His just wrath. All who do not worship or value Him are judged. All who break His laws are guilty before Him. Those who do not cherish His name or are thankful for His provision are condemned. Fear God for He is a consuming fire. Proclaim God’s glorious judgment. Splendor and majesty are before Him, Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. He is the source for all things right and good. The splendor and majesty of every earthly throne is an outpouring from His holy temple. He is the well from which we draw the water of beauty and loveliness. He brings forth the feathers of the peacock and the shimmer of the pearl. He radiates every hue of color and every sparkle of brilliant light. In the presence of His sanctuary, and all before Him, are wonders of strength and mighty power. He speaks His word, and the strength of the ox is born, and the force of the storm is conceived. He alone gives the wisdom to behold and the knowledge to discern all that is splendid. He is the Almighty. He is the all-wise God. He is Glorious.

Worship God’s Glorious Judgment

“King David, the psalm changes from the proclamation of God’s judgment to worship.” Verses seven to ten are filled with the command to worship God for He is the great and mighty judge of His creation. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. All of the families of Israel are to give God the glory. It is not our glory and strength which rescues us from darkness and despair. It is not because of our mighty deeds we are blessed. We are weak, and the Lord is strong. We are sinners and He offers forgiveness and mercy. It is not by our strong hand or by the chariot and the horse we find deliverance. Let no family or person take credit for God’s goodness. Ascribe to the LORD the glory of His name. He is the great I AM. His name is above all names. He brings us to the Promised Land for His name’s sake. He sets our feet upon the rock for the worship of His name. Bring an offering and come into His courts. The people are to enter the beautiful courts of our Lord God. They are to bring a tribute worthy of praise. Bring an offering of thanksgiving. Bring an offering for the forgiveness of sins. Bring an offering for the atonement of sin. Worship before the Almighty God and Creator. Worship the LORD in holy attire. Dare not go before the Lord with unclean hands and unclean robes. Cleanse yourself because God is a holy God and we may only come before Him with holy utensils and wearing holy garments. Cleanse your heart o’ sinner. Be holy for He is holy. Tremble before Him, all the earth. Let it be known in all of Israel and all the nations; we are to tremble before the Lord God. He is the Almighty. There is none like Him. Fear the Lord for He is your judge. Fear Him who casts the soul into Hades. Fear Him who holds the power of Sheol in His right hand. Fear Him who speaks judgment and sits on the throne of mercy. If He withholds His mercy, we become like the dust of the earth. Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved; He will judge the peoples with equity.” King David, let’s send people forth to proclaim Yahweh sits on the throne of judgment. Say to the Hittites who bring terror to their enemies, the Lord reigns. Proclaim to the boastful Amorites; God will judge your trust in your self-dependence.  Speak to the Canaanites that the Lord brings the riches of this world to naught and their lust for riches leads to destruction. Say to the Hivites and Jebusites, God is holy, and He sees their immorality and unrighteousness. Say among the nations that the Law of the Lord and His authority is established. It stands forever and will not be moved. All men stand under the judgment of the Almighty, holy and eternal God. Worship God who judges the earth.

Rejoice in God’s Glorious Judgment

King David, the psalm speaks to the people of Israel and all the nations. Now, at the end of the psalm, the people of Israel will sing to creation. They will cry out to all which the Lord God has made to join in celebrating God’s glorious judgment. As we sing this psalm, we will look up into the sky and declare, “Let the heavens be glad.” All you stars which the Lord calls by name and directs your path, be glad. Moon, who pulls the tide and gives light in the darkness, be glad. Orion and Pleiades, be glad. We shall look to the ground and sing, “Let the Earth rejoice!” It is time for the rocks to cry out and the mountains and the hills to bow down with great joy and gladness. Valleys, fill your rivers and let them be lifted-up with delight. We will sing to the waters of the earth and say, Let the sea roar and all it contains. We will stand on the shore and hear the thunderous waves crashing and feel the salty mist as it triumphantly celebrates the glory of God. Scrod, bluefish, coral, and seaweed will roar with the waves. All the creatures below the waves will join God’s people in joy. We will turn to the fields and sing, Let the field exult, and all that is in it. Barley and grain bring forth exultation. Bend your reed in the wind with joy. Flowers bring forth your bud and blossoms in triumphant color. Elk, bring your yearlings in celebration alongside the lamb, wildebeest, and jackal. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy and clap their hands. Instead of the thorn bush, bring forth in its place the cypress and the cedar. Branches of fruit trees bend low as you become laden with ripe fruit. All the heavens, all the earth, sea, field, and forest sign be glad and filled with joy Before the LORD, for He is coming, For He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His faithfulness. No longer is Creation cursed because of man. The Lord is coming to bring His righteousness and His salvation. The Lord will judge evil and casts it as far as the east is from the west. He is faithful and true; He is not a liar nor will He be idle in His judgment. All things are made new and holy. Be joyful before the Lord for He is coming. Rejoice! * Thus, Asaph finishes the psalm. King David is pleased. On that day, the Ark is brought to Jerusalem. The sound of harps, lyres, and Asaph playing loud-sounding cymbals, fills the streets. The priests blow trumpets continually before the ark of the covenant of God. King David dances with joyful worship. The people sing this great psalm, and it is added to the pages of the Tanakh, the Jewish Bible where it remains to this day as a reminder of God’s glorious work.

Our Response Today

Let’s turn our attention from the Israelites and their great day of celebration and think about our circumstances and our lives. Let’s speak first of the parallels of our life with the situation of the Israelites. The Israelites were in captivity in Egypt under the terrible hand of Pharaoh. God hears their cries and delivers them. The final deliverance of God’s people comes from the blood of the Passover lamb. Our salvation is likened to God bringing the Israelites to the Promised Land. We were Satan’s captives with no hope of escape. God delivers us by the blood of the Lamb of God, and He is bringing us into His Promised Land. The Lord conquers the enemies of the Israelites and brings peace to Israel. God conquers our enemies. Sin is defeated. The grave and death are defeated. Jesus disarms the rulers and authorities of Satan and his underlings and makes a public display of them, having triumphed over them on the cross. No enemy may separate us from the love of Christ. The Israelites see the shekinah glory of God as a bright light emanating from the Ark of the Covenant. God shines His light into our heart, and we see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Instead of an Ark, God fills us with the presence of His Spirit. God sets King David on the throne to rule Israel with peace and justice. God sets Jesus on the throne to rule over us as the Prince of Peace and the Lord of lords. With Jesus as King, we live in perfect peace and prosperity. With this in mind, how are we to view this psalm? (Listen carefully.) God‘s Spirit gives the psalm to God’s people so that they may respond to His work in their lives. Singing, the proclamation of salvation and a heart attitude of joyful worship is God’s expected response for those who He delivers out of captivity and brings into His Promised Land. (this is how you are to respond) This Psalm represents how God’s people are to speak and worship after experiencing God’s glory at work in their lives. By the authority of King David, with a psalm written by Asaph, the people of Israel are told that they are to proclaim the salvation of God, they are to worship before Him, and they are to rejoice in the faithful judgment of a righteous God. The people of Israel are given testimony to declare, a song to sing, and a reason to rejoice (hold that thought). Last week, we talked about the deeds of evangelism. I admit I spoke in a way which brought conviction. My tone was too harsh. I have no good excuse to justify the manner which I expressed the call to evangelism. I ask for your forgiveness. As a pastor, I truly desire the best for our church. I desire for us to be in complete obedience to the Scripture. Sharing the gospel is a command, not a suggestion. Being silent about salvation is disobedience. Please, let’s not choose comfort over the joy of sharing the gospel. Let’s not choose the fear of man over the fear of God. We need to know that our flesh, and our enemy, fight against making Christ known. Our flesh struggles against prayer, reading the Bible, and putting to death the deeds of the flesh. But, if we want to see our flesh fight at its hardest, start sharing the gospel with your friends and neighbors. Our Father desires for us to fulfill His will. But, sharing the gospel is much more than obeying out of duty. Obedience brings blessing. When we share Christ with others, we experience the fullness of joy Jesus promises. We mature in our faith. We know Christ in deeper ways. We grow in our appreciation of the gospel. And, we share in His sufferings. This psalm is chosen because it is a fitting follow-up to last week’s message. Last week we heard we are to share the gospel. With this psalm, we learn why we are to proclaim good tidings of salvation. Psalm 96 speaks to the Israelites and teaches that God is to be feared. They are to tremble before Him. The Lord is judge over all the peoples. He is the Creator. Along with expressing that the Israelites are to fear God, the psalm reminds them of the Lord’s great and wonderful deeds. It is because of His glory; they are to proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day, to all the peoples, and to all the nations. Let’s ask ourselves a question. If God gives Psalm 96 to the Israelites because He desires for them to give a fitting response for His glorious work in their lives, what might be the expected fitting response God has for us? Should God expect less or more than what He expects from the Israelites?
  • If God expects the Israelites to express joy, worship, and proclaim His goodness because of the presence of the Ark in Jerusalem, what might He expect from us after we experience the presence of His indwelling Spirit?
  • What response does God expect from those who He delivers by the blood sacrifice of His Beloved Son?
  • What response does God expect from those whose greatest enemies of sin and death are defeated?
  • What response does God expect from those who He brings out from the clutches of hell and sits at His right hand in Christ with everlasting life?
Singing to the Lord is the response God expects. A heart attitude of worship and joy is the response God expects. Out of the abundance of a worshipful heart, the mouth speaks. The proclamation of the good tidings of His salvation from day to day is the response God expects. God expects that His people will never have a shortage of words about the glad tidings of His salvation. We have a testimony to share, a song to sing, and a reason to rejoice. Ours is not a one-time song or testimony, but one which is to take place day by day. Our proclamation of salvation is good tidings for all the peoples of all the nations. Go, therefore. Respond to the work of God’s glory in our life.