36 East Victoria St.
Santa Barbara

Joy to the World

April 29, 2012 ()

Psalms 98 |


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Celebration. It brings life to our senses and joy to our hearts. Graduation. Marriage. Childbirth. Our team winning the big game. Birthdays. Seeing Yosemite for the first time. Even the most reserved of us will show emotion at these times. Likely we will shout out. Even pat another's back. Get sore cheeks from smiling wide.  Laugh out loud. Could it be that we were made for celebration? Maybe it is not merely a respite from the dull or the painful. Could it be that a permanent victory will surely come and that it has already begun? Yes!  This is the message of Psalm 98.

Why should we sing for joy? The Psalmist tells us that it is because our God has already done marvelous things. Powerful things. Miraculous things. The Psalmist remembers the powerful times of God's deliverance. Three times he uses the word salvation, or victory. God works to produce salvation for his people. He does it from the depths of his power (right arm) and his perfection (holy arm).  Secondly, he has made this salvation known. Who could consider Israel without knowing God is a saving God? He delivers time and time again; and against all odds. To witness these salvations is to know that God is faithful, that he is a covenant (promise) keeping God.  Some nations, aware of this, sought to align themselves to God's people in order to fall under the protection of their God. What do we then do as God's people? We rehearse his past mercies and we do so intentionally and often. We remember that what sets us apart is God's mercy and covenant goodness–we are not distinguished by who we are but by who God is.  And we sing a new song! For joy!

How should we sing?  We put our lips in motion. We use our voice. We do not worry about how good we sound. God has given us a voice to use to praise him–whatever the tone quality. We use instruments of all sorts and that are appropriate for celebration. We sing for joy even when we feel sad or anxious.  We shout that God's goodness and greatness is real. Song follows reality. Emotions follow song. We sing all types of songs (Psalms). Joy (98). Thanksgiving (46). Petition for help (55). Have mercy! (51).  Deliverance (69).  Lament (88).

We do it together. We sing to God but also to ourselves and to others around us. God has designed worship to bless in all directions. We remember that we are rehearsing for heaven. We read Revelation 4 and see ourselves in that picture. We know what we will be doing 100 years from today–singing that new song! So we sing with expectation. Our king will come and set all things right. With creation we long intently for the day of total deliverance–for full liberation! God has given us a great dream. That dream is already born in us and we sing it. That dream will be totally realized when the King and righteous judge comes.

Isaac Watts once wrote a new song that was based on Psalm 98:  Joy to the World, (the Lord is come!)   Born to save.  Coming to reign.

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