Summary: God is dangerous to human beings. Approach God and die. And yet the Psalms tell us to come near. How can we do that? There is only one way, but it's the best way!
Psalms 96 – 100 are filled with wonderful praise for Yahweh. He is powerful, He is magnificent, He is worthy to be praised. We’re not going to linger in these psalms, but I want the tone of them to just wash over us and let our hearts soar with praise for our mighty God.
1 – 6
First, we are invited to sing “a new song.” We no longer sing the songs of the idols of this age, but sing of the new thing God has done for us in bringing about a great salvation.
Secondly, we don’t just move our lips and vibrate our vocal chords—we sing to Yahweh in praise of His name—and not just today but “day to day”. Everyday is a good day to praise Yahweh for His salvation.
Thirdly we make that proclamation not just in church but in every part of our life and in every place we go. We don’t stop being a thankful Christian just because we step out of church.
We do this because God is great and everything else isn’t! Society thinks they have satisfaction wired. But they do not. Everything the world offers is like cotton candy: it gives you a big rush but then lets you down every time and offers nothing to sustain you. Fear God, worship God, serve God—He made the world and you. He is:
Splendor: majesty, glory, strength.
Majestic: usually used to show an object that is beautiful and inspires awe.
Strength: Power (like a stronghold)
Beauty: glory, splendor, honor
Where God is (His sanctuary) these exist!
7 – 9
This section tells us that we should worship God and no other! “Worship” here and elsewhere in this psalm is the Hebrew word: Shacha which means “to depress” and the idea is bowing down.
10 – 13
God is in charge, He decides when things happen ultimately. And when God decides, He will be just and fair. This should lead everyone to be glad, for our King is coming and He is going to judge and it is going to be a good thing. The word “faithfulness” in verse 13 means “firmness” or “security”. We can trust in the way God does things. We can finally let go of our own worries over justice.
It will be done in total fairness. No one will argue with God over His judgments. People who don’t want anything to do with our God will get their wish. It is my hope that they realize this world is selling them a bill of goods. This culture is a great con artist. Only God has life and He offers it freely through trust and reliance in His Son Jesus. This is indeed something to celebrate!
Psalm 97 was originally a song, of course, but recently its been made into a worship chorus.
1 – 5
The “many coasts and islands” suggests God reigns over the uttermost parts of the earth. The “Clouds and thick darkness” remind us of God on Mt. Sinai when He first spoke to the children of Israel in Exodus. Hebrews says “Our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb 12:29). Lightning and thunder were also seen on Mt. Sinai. Basically—nothing can stand in His way—nothing!
Not only is the Lord powerful on earth, but He is seen in heaven as “righteous.” One day, when Jesus returns in clouds and with great glory we will indeed see Him:
1 John 3:2 “Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is.”
At that time, those that worship the false gods this age puts forward will be “put to shame.” They will realize they are nothing but idols. The end of verse 7 can be translated: “all the gods must humble themselves before Him.” It is so true. Upon His return Jesus will rule “with a rod of iron” (Revelation 2:27), which means no one will be able to dispute His authority.
8 – 9
Here, the psalmist says Israel is glad. But we have been adopted into God’s family so we too can rejoice, because despite what this age shouts at us: God is “exalted above all the gods!” (Ephesians 1:5).
10 – 12
So now we move to the final point. If God reigns then we need to align our character with His.
Proverbs 8:13 says “to fear the Lord is to hate evil.” Jesus said: “You cannot serve two masters.” (Matthew 6:24). You need to decide, either you are going to love the character of our God or love what the world serves up as good—which is to give into the desires of the flesh apart from God.