As I have studied the Psalms of Praise and others in the context of training people for cross-cultural ministry I have noticed how often the “nations” are mentioned by the psalmists.
Sing the praises of the Lord, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done. (Psalm 9:11)
Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name. (Psalm 18:49)
All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations. (Psalm 22:27-28)
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)
And then there is Psalm 96. Note the use of the words “all the earth”, “the nations”, “all peoples”, “families of nation”, “the world” and “all creation”:
1 Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among all peoples.
4 For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. 6 Splendour and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
7 Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. 8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. 9 Worship the Lord in the splendour of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. 10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.” The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.
11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. 12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. 13 Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.
Psalm 9 similarly says: ‘I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you. I will sing to your name…Sing praises to the Lord…proclaim among the nations what he has done.” (Psalm 9:1,11)
The NIV Study Bible notes comment on Psalm 9:1, ‘The praise of God in the psalter is rarely a private matter between the psalmist and the Lord. It is usually a public celebration of God’s holy virtues or of his saving acts or gracious bestowal of blessings. In his praise the psalmist proclaims to the assembly God’s glorious attributes or his righteous deeds. To this is usually added a call to praise, summoning all who hear to take up the praise – to acknowledge and joyfully celebrate God’s glory, his goodness and all his righteous acts.”
Then this interesting statement:
“The aspect of praise in the psalms has rightly been called the OT anticipation of NT evangelism.”
Encouraging the people of all nations to the praise of God is still our calling as the people of God today and John’s vision in Revelation 7:9 spurs us on. He wrote:
9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10 NIV)
John Piper in his book “Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions”, suggests that, “The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God. ‘The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coast lands be glad’ (Psalm 97:1). ‘Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy! (Psalm 67:3-4).
He continues, “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exist because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever…Passion for God in worship precedes the offer of God in preaching. You can’t commend what you don’t cherish…Missions begins and ends in worship…When the flame of worship burns with the heat of God’s true worth, the light of missions will shine to the darkest [places] on earth.” (John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions Baker Academic 1993, 2005)
Being someone who has been involved in various ways in God’s global mission most of my Christian life, no wonder the Psalms resonate with all that I am and do!
“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. (Psalm 67:2) Amen.