Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—shout for joy before the Lord, the King. (Psalm 98:4-6)
A New Song
Every week, Thursday comes around again (funny how that happens) and I get to consider a new psalm for these “Thirsty Thursday” reflections. We’ve been at this for nearly two year now!
I don’t get to CHOOSE which psalm to write on, we are simply taking them in order. And yet, it’s amazing how the Holy Spirit can take what was written thousands of years ago and use it to speak to us in our own unique situation today! Sometimes the connection is obvious, and sometimes it’s not.
So, as I read through Psalm 98 this week, I thought to myself, “Shout for JOY? Burst into JUBILANT SONG? Are you kidding?” With all of the pandemic disruptions and suffering; in the midst of the racial injustice, fear and anger; as our country is being torn apart politically, socially and economically…JOY? Lord, wouldn’t a sad psalm of lament be more appropriate? “Jubilant songs” sounds a bit…well…tone deaf!
Psalm 98 is, unabashedly, a song of joy and praise to the Lord. The psalm begins by inviting us to “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things” (vs. 1). The songwriter describes how we are to praise him—with “shouts” and “songs,” with “harps” and “singing,” with “trumpets” and “blasts of the ram’s horn.” (vs. 4-6)—and who should praise him—every person and every part of creation (vs. 7-9).
But how we praise God and who joins in isn’t the cause of our joy and celebration…it’s the result. The main focus of the song is on why we praise our God:
- His right hand and his holy arm “gained him the victory” (vs. 1, NKJV)
- He makes his salvation known & reveals his righteousness to the nations (vs. 2)
- He remembers his love and faithfulness to Israel (vs. 3)
God has defeated the enemy, God has revealed himself to the world, God remains eternally faithful and loving to his people. And because of this, “all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.”
So, which of those reasons for praise is no longer true today? What prevents us from lifting our voices in joyful shouts and jubilant songs?
Today, we still celebrate the victory of God. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, sin and death have been defeated and we are given the victory (1 Corinthians 15:57); because of his victory we are able to overcome the troubles of this world (1 John 5:4).
We celebrate the same God that the songwriter celebrates in Psalm 98. And we know that our confidence and hope can’t be manufactured by how we praise Him; and it doesn’t depend on who chooses to praise Him. But when the troubles and suffering of this world seek to overwhelm us, remembering why we praise Him can produce joy even in the darkest hours. Try a shout of praise today for who Jesus is, for what he has done, and for what he will do to finally and fully make his salvation known. Celebrate him, worship him, trust him…and always stay thirsty for him.