Our psalm today is one calling all creation to praise God for his great victory. Or as Longman summarizes it, it is concerning “God [who] is Victor in the past, King in the present and Judge in the future.” (# 30)
Recently, a few of us sat in a lounge room to remember the life of my brother-in-law, John, as we watched the live-streaming of his funeral 3000km away on the east coast of Australia. One of the positives of this present pandemic is that it has birthed further creative ways to connect when it has been impossible to be together physically. And live-streaming funerals is one of them.
So, we remembered a life lived by a man who loved God and served him as best as he knew how. We acknowledged the faithfulness of our God and were challenged to seek to live the rest of our short lives pleasing to Him. We also looked forward to the time when we too, like John, will be “forever with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17), at the time of our own deaths or at His second coming. Together we grieved, but not as those who have no hope. As Paul wrote:
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)
We also rejoiced in God’s great victory over sin and death, as Paul wrote in his wonderful chapter on resurrection:
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15)
And so, with these great truths in our hearts we turn back to Psalm 98, where the psalmist exhorts us to:
1 Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvellous things.
Longman continues: “A new song is a hymn of victory sung after God has made all things new by his defeat of the forces of evil.” (# 30)
These marvellous things he did for Israel many times including at the exodus from Egypt and then delivering them from Babylon.
How did He do this? We are told:
his right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
2 The Lord has made his salvation known
and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
3 He has remembered his love
and his faithfulness to Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
As we look further into His-story, we read that God has again done marvellous things. In fact, in our day, not only have all the ends of the earth seen the salvation of our God, but people from all around the world have experienced for themselves this great salvation found in Jesus. Following his death, resurrection and ascension, Peter proclaimed at Pentecost concerning Jesus:
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
We in the 21st Century can identify with this great victory psalm and,
4 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music;
5 make music to the Lord with the harp,
with the harp and the sound of singing,
6 with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
shout for joy before the Lord, the King.
And even join with all creation in praise of God’s great salvation:
7 Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.
8 Let the rivers clap their hands,
let the mountains sing together for joy;
9 let them sing before the Lord.
Not only praise for God’s marvellous things accomplished in Egypt, and in Babylon, and on the cross of Calvary, but for our future hope as the psalmist reminds us that:
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples with equity.
He is indeed our “God [who] is Victor in the past, King in the present and Judge in the future.” (# 30) Amen.