The Confession of Sin is Good for the Soul

Please forgive us of all of our sins. It is such a simple phrase—uttered time and time again. Those who do so likely mean it sincerely; however, it unquestionably lacks the expression of contrition and appreciation that God deserves. In the closing psalm of Book Four, a section highlighting man’s relationship with God, the psalmist details the rebellious history of Israel as part of a confession on behalf of the nation, a confession that the people would then themselves sing as they reminded one another of the joint spiritual failures of their fathers—a powerful spiritual exercise, to be sure, and one God’s people today would do well to consider. Our confession of sins should take place within the context of God’s own character, a reflection on the goodness and mercy that gives any meaning to confession (Psa. 106:1). Confession ought to focus on what God has done to make salvation possible (Psa. 106:2) and on the righteousness He expects of His people—and on how we have failed Him (Psa. 106:3). Confession remains incomplete without meditation on the grace that offers the opportunity (Psa. 106:4) and that makes hope still possible (Psa. 106:5). Indeed, any request for forgiveness removed from the context of God’s character and personal introspection lacks the spiritual heart God Himself intended. “We have sinned with our fathers, We have committed iniquity, We have done wickedly” (Psa. 106:6). Moreover, the psalmist’s subsequent listing of the sins of the nation demonstrates how important it is for man to reflect on the whole of his existence and failures rather than on just the most recent occurrence, because this helps us see the patterns of rebellion that plague us and the longsuffering of God that makes it possible for Him to forgive us again. 

Israel rebelled even before they left Egypt because they failed to appreciate the deliverance God was making possible (Psa. 106:7), but God demonstrated His own character in responding to their sin with an opportunity they did not deserve, which they, in the moment, embraced (Psa. 106:8-12; Rom. 5:8-9). In the wilderness they thought only of themselves and not God and thus tested Him (Psa. 106:13-14), and yet He proved Himself and His care once again (Psa. 106:15). They rebelled against the leadership He established (Psa. 106:16) and were judged as a result (Psa. 106:17-18). At the foot of Sinai they turned away from the God who delivered them and turned back to the idolatry of Egypt (Psa. 106:19-22); only Moses’ pleading kept them from destruction (Psa. 106:23). Faith failed them when they spied out the land (Psa. 106:24-25), so the first generation died in the wilderness (Psa. 106:26-27). They fell into paganism and immorality with the Midianites (Psa. 106:28) and suffered a plague as a result (Psa. 106:29) until Phinehas rose to oppose the sin (Psa. 106:30-31). Their grumbling at the lack of water grew so virulent that a frustrated Moses responded rashly and was thus kept out of Canaan (Psa. 106:32-33). They failed to destroy the Canaanites but instead compromised their identity with them (Psa. 106:34-38), and God responded by letting them feel the consequences of their own decision (Psa. 106:39-40)—time and time again until ultimately sending them into captivity (Psa. 106:41-46). Their history of rebellion was all too real, and they needed to acknowledge it—just like we do.

However, in the closing verses, the true beauty of the psalm shines forth. As we turn to God for salvation, He still will listen (Psa. 106:47a). As we offer our thanks and our praise once more, He hears our cries (Psa. 106:47b). All of this—the character of God, our history of sinfulness, and divine longsuffering—should teach us to grow in appreciation for our God more and more everyday. For He alone deserves our allegiance, because He alone is truly faithful. Therefore, He deserves for us to recognize all that He has done and praise Him with all our heart (Psa. 106:48). It is hard to capture all of this in one easy throwaway phrase. And we should not try.


A Personal God

When I peruse the religious landscape of America, it sometimes baffles me how people can claim to read the Bible, love the Bible, and follow the Bible while remaining completely oblivious to the true nature of the God of the Bible. Some see only a harsh, judging God who destroyed the peoples of Canaan, punished people for their rebellion, and allowed Israel to endure the destruction of their homeland and years in captivity. Others only see the loving God whose grace sent Jesus to the cross for the sins of mankind (John 3:16). The apostle Paul emphasized that both of these descriptions apply to God but should be viewed together in a balanced way (Rom. 11:22). However, more than this, some have allowed their view of Christianity to rely on ritual and habit rather than heart and commitment. Theologians then offer a doctrinal interpretation of God as if Yahweh can be parsed and defined like goodness or atonement. And while all these fall under the purview of God, appreciating how they unite together to provide guidance and hope both in this life and beyond this life is where we find the true meaning of all that God has done for us. 

Indeed, when we turn to Psalm 105 and consider both its placement within this inspired collection and its content, we should be humbled in both our understanding of the LORD and our appreciation for what He has done. Our God is not some impersonal deity who formed this world and then abandoned His creation. To the contrary, the LORD has supreme interest in every aspect of our lives, and He has acted accordingly to make a relationship with Him possible. Therefore, He not only established the laws of nature by His providence but then brought man into a covenant relationship with Him. Moreover, we can see this not only in the love displayed in Jesus in the New Testament but even in His care demonstrated in the Old. For this reason the psalmist could encourage the people to worship God, talk about all that He has done, give Him glory, rejoice, and seek Him diligently (Psa. 105:1-6). Everything that God has done is designed to draw us back to Him so that we can say, “He is the LORD our God; His judgments are in all the earth” (Psa. 105:7).

The LORD established His covenant of both the promised seed and the land of Canaan, renewed it in successive generations, and ultimately fulfilled it (Psa. 105:8-11). When Israel was but an insignificant family, wandering with other nomads throughout the land, He protected them from harm in keeping with His covenant (Psa. 105:12-15; Gen. 20). In His providence, He used the anger and sin of Joseph’s brothers ultimately to bring about their own provision, raising Joseph up from a slave and a prisoner to the viceroy of the Pharaoh (Psa. 105:16-22). The LORD then turned Jacob’s family into such a multitude that their Egyptian hosts grew to fear them (Psa. 105:23-25) and then enslave them, but God had greater plans for them. He sent Moses, and Aaron with him, to bring them out of bondage so He could fulfill His covenant, sending plagues upon the Egyptians as both proof and punishment for them and proof of His fidelity to His covenant(Psa. 105:26-36). He took a nation of slaves and gave them wealth, challenged a mighty nation and brought them to their knees, guided His people day and night, and gave them food and water as they had need (Psa. 105:37-41). He did all these things to keep the covenant He made with Abraham and with the design that the people would then keep the covenant with Him (Psa. 105:42-45).

God keeps promises to His people. God protects His people. God provides for His people. God prepares His people. God proves His faithfulness time and time again. God prevails over all worldly obstacles. God makes all good things possible. He provides personal care with personal attention out of very personal love for all of His creation (Rom. 5:8-9). Why? Because He wants us to respond to Him personally with loving obedience (John 14:15). The LORD is a personal God, and that is why we should take what He has done for us personally.

Providence at Work

Psalm 104 opens with the same phrase that began the previous psalm, “Bless the LORD, O my soul!” In fact, the same phrase appears in the final verse of both psalms as well. Thus, they are linked not only by their proximity but also by their form. However, the connection grows even stronger when we examine their contents. A quick comparison of the wording found in Psalm 103:20-21 and Psalm 104:4 is sufficient to demonstrate that the latter psalm picks up the same theme introduced in Psalm 103:19-22 as if it were too grand a thought to treat so sparsely. And I must agree. In a world that worships at the altar of scientific arrogance coupled with philosophical nonsense, Psalm 104 offers a gentle reminder that a majestic Creator not only made the heavens and the earth but also provided a means to sustain it for as long as needed to fulfill its purpose as the home of those made in the image of God.

The psalmist presents creation as the royal robe of the King of kings (Psa. 104:1-2), a fitting metaphor signifying the grandeur of the One one who reigns, and then proceeds to describe creation in all its glory. Nature did not work itself out through millennia, but the LORD established the interaction of heat from the sun, air in the atmosphere, and water throughout to create the phenomena we see displayed in the weather, all carried on through God’s providence, as the role of angels makes clear (Psa. 104:2-4). While the LORD created the earth as the ideal environment for man, the subsequent flood of Noah changed its landscape and atmosphere tremendously. Nevertheless, the LORD’s care continued, causing the floodwaters to abate, the storms to retreat, and the rainbow to come as a reminder of the finality of that form of judgment as well as His promised future care (Psa. 104:5-9)—providence. The LORD ensured that water now would nourish the ground and quench the thirst of all His creation (Psa. 104:10-13). Through the LORD’s providence, He provided food for all creation, both for animals and men, as well the means for shelter (Psa. 104:14-18). His providence gave night, with the moon for light and opportunity for nocturnal animals to find their food (Psa. 104:19-21), and then gave day so man can see to do his work (Psa. 104:22-23). The oceans and seas are home to countless other creatures, but the LORD cares for them as well (Psa. 104:24-29). Indeed, His providence ensures their ongoing life (Psa. 104:30). Then, in earnest, the psalmist, building to a crescendo, moves His focus to man, just as God did the week of creation when He declared finally with the creation of both man and woman that it was very good (Psa. 104:31). But man needs guidance, prompting the psalmist’s allusion to the giving of the Law on Sinai (Psa. 104:32), and for this attention and care—a care that extends beyond the realm of nature to embrace the soul and eternity—we should respond with reverent worship in praise to the God (Psa. 104:33) and fill our minds with His will so that our lives might please Him, bring us joy, and avoid the judgment of those who ignore the One to Whom they owe so much (Psa. 104:34-35).

“Bless the LORD, O my soul!” This simple phrase declares the adoration due to the One who made us—a love born out of dependence, nurtured through life, and matured into an eternal relationship, a relationship that extends to the depths of the soul. The realization that only God could be responsible for the existence of man and the entire universe demands the conclusion and exclamation, “O LORD my God, You are very great.” But He deserves so much more, because He has done so much more. The LORD is not simply our Creator, but also our Provider. He not only provides for our bodies but also for our spirits. Our God sees in us the possibilities of eternity, and for this we should respond with adoration, “Bless the LORD, O my soul! Praise the LORD!“ (Psa. 104:35b).

What Do You Really Need?

I do not know when the idea of “finding yourself” came into vogue, but it surely has had a negative impact on how people see themselves. It usually causes people to focus on what they selfishly want while ignoring how much they actually need, as well as what they ought to be. As a result, people have begun to define themselves solely by the extent of their worldly ambitions rather than by the reality of the human condition. However, Psalm 103 offers a powerful corrective to this by redirecting attention away from self and toward the LORD to establish a spiritual perspective about life that should guide our ambitions while also comforting our spirit.

Life offers such great opportunity for personal growth, achievement, and freedom, but sadly many use the opportunities God has provided to rebel against Him and try to push Him out of their lives. Regardless, we need the LORD—more than we often realize. We need the LORD’s life-giving provision (Psa. 103:1-5). The blessings He provides mankind point to the core of mankind’s own limitations. We need the LORD’s forgiveness because we have sinned against the LORD’s will. We need His care because the human body is fragile. We need hope because life leads to destruction. We need God’s love because without it we could have none of the good things we tend to take for granted in life. More than that, we need the LORD’s righteous guidance (Psa. 103:6-8). He alone understands true justice and acts without any partiality. He has revealed His will because we need moral direction. He has shown us the greatest of character in all His interaction with His creation. And we needed Him to do so. We need the LORD’s bountiful mercy (Psa. 103:9-13). We need Him to be patient and longsuffering with us or else we could not repent and grow. We need forgiveness so desperately, especially in light of His justice, and His grace and mercy He has extended to make that possible. O how we need God! We need the LORD’s hopeful promises (Psa. 103:14-19). As our Creator, God knows our limitations, our frailty, and our futility, and we need to learn the same. We need to remember that life is short but eternity is long. We need to learn not to allow the pleasure of the moment to dictate the destiny of the soul. We need to recognize just how much we need God in our lives now so that we will be with God in eternity. We need to see into eternity and appreciate mercy, to view the majesty of the LORD and reverence Him, and to appreciate the revelation of His will so that we can obey it. The LORD is greater than life and greater than death. He reigns in heaven and beyond. But we need to let Him reign in our lives. The more we see happening in the world around us, the more we should see our need for the LORD’s providential care (Psa. 103:20-22). He does not work miracles through men any longer upon this earth, but through His providence He still exercises lordship over all His creation, using angels to carry out His will in the realm of nature, and this gives great confidence and meaning to prayer.

You need God. You need God to live. You need God to thrive. You need God to know right and wrong. You need God to know love. You need God to forgive. You need to know God. So many people are trying to find themselves in this mixed up world. Instead, what they really need is to look into the scriptures and find God.

Identifying with Adversity

The Jews who returned from Babylonian captivity faced numerous challenges in their attempts to rebuild the temple and the walls of Jerusalem. The rubble that was Jerusalem must have seemed an insurmountable and depressing challenge, and the rising opposition of non-Jews in the land created additional struggles. The stress created by such a situation took its toll on these Jews, but amidst this crisis of confidence, they turned to the LORD to see them through as Psalm 102 describes. Feeling overwhelmed by circumstances, the psalmist cried out to God (Psa. 102:1-2). The adversity, the sense of loneliness, and the persecution served as ready reminders of how much mankind needs God (Psa. 102:3-9), especially since we will all eventually face death (Psa. 102:10-11). And that is why it is so comforting to remember that the LORD is eternal (Psa. 102:12) and determined to see His purpose through to the end (Psa. 102:13-16). His will ensured the restoration of His people even if the Psalm’s author did not live to see it (Psa. 102:17-23). Whatever might happen upon the earth, the LORD Himself guarantees victory in eternity (Psa. 102:24-28). This message surely resonated with post-exilic Israel and gave them hope for their future. And yet, the message of this psalm looked forward to greater adversity and an even greater victory.

The meaning of Psalm 102:23-24 has two possible interpretations, both allowed by the consonants of the text and dependent upon the vowel pointing supplied. While the Hebrew of the Masoretic text provided the translation followed by English translations, the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, saw the vowel pointing differently, and the Holy Spirit followed this latter interpretation when inspiring Hebrews 1:10-12 in making verses twenty-four through twenty-eight the answer of God the Father to God the Son, thus making the psalm Messianic. And when we return to the beginning and consider the life of Jesus, the psalm has a flow that brings a powerful message.

Consider Jesus as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, imploring His Father for deliverance (Psa. 102:1-2). There He pled, feeling overwhelmed and alone (Psa. 102:3-7) while His enemies plotted against Him (Psa. 102:8), in agony because He knew full well the cost of sin and His own mission from God to accept its penalty on man’s behalf (Psa. 102:9-10). Therefore, fully aware of the torture that awaited Him, He realized the time for His death drew near (Psa. 102:11). However, even in this He had hope because of what His death would accomplish because God, the Father, lives on (Psa. 102:12). He knew that, by His death, God would show His grace to Israel (Psa. 102:13-14) and that even the Gentiles, those of other nations, would also benefit (Psa. 102:15-16). Indeed, this would be the answer to many prayers throughout the centuries (Psa. 102:17). Therefore, from both Jew and Gentile God would create a new people (Psa. 102:18), having defeated death on their behalf (Psa. 102:19-20) and bringing reason for great praise (Psa. 102:21-22). But at that moment, as the Septuagint reading indicates, the Father replied to the pleading and praise of the Son (Psa. 102:23) with a message that anticipated the gospel. Indeed, despite His death, the Messiah is indeed God and will live for all generations (Psa. 102:24). Through Him the heavens and the earth came into existence (Psa. 102:25; Gen. 1:1; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:3), and while they will be destroyed in the end (Psa. 102:26), the Messiah will endure (Psa. 102:27), as will the people He established and for which He died (Psa. 102:28).

Surely we can identify with the adversity of the Jews coming back from captivity. But how much greater is the thought that the Messiah, Jesus, chose to identify fully and completely with us? This indeed proved to be a foundational point in the opening of the book of Hebrews, but centuries beforehand, the Holy Spirit declared it through the inspired hand of the post-exilic psalmist.

The Promise of Thankfulness

David’s rise to the throne of Israel and subsequent reign dominate the landscape of Jewish history. From the young shepherd boy who fought wild animals to budding warrior who killed Goliath to the faithful soldier running from a jealous commander, the early life of David established a powerful backstory for the mightiest king in Israel’s history. Despite his youthful anointing by Samuel, he patiently and faithfully served Saul, consistently respecting him as “the LORD’s anointed.” Here we find no power-hungry leader but a man of faith and principle. He did not view his anointing as a political opportunity but as a spiritual responsibility. And while the psalms surrounding his coming to the throne located in Book One are more familiar, Psalm 101 offers great insight. It essentially records David’s promises to the LORD upon coming to the throne of the kingdom. However, this emphasis provides another practical consideration and perspective. David saw these characteristics as essential when he came to the throne of an earthly kingdom, but they have even greater application for all who become Christians and enter Christ’s heavenly kingdom (Matt. 16:18-19; Col. 1:13-14).

Throughout this psalm David makes a series of promises to the LORD. The two words “I will” dominate the psalm. But for the Christian, submitting to the reign of Christ as King by being immersed to enjoy the forgiveness promised (Acts 2:38) and the joy assured (1 John 1:4) is an even greater promise—the promise to live faithfully as a subject in the kingdom, whatever that may require (Rev. 2:10). David saw his responsibilities as God’s anointed leader of the nation of Israel, but truly Christians have an even greater obligation as subjects of a far greater kingdom. Therefore, upon entering the kingdom, Christians are promising to worship God faithfully (Psa. 101:1). This implies far more than regular attendance (Heb. 10:24-25) but rather a heart and soul dedicated to honoring the LORD as much as possible exactly how the LORD desires, as true worshippers do (John 4:24). More than this, upon entering the kingdom, Christians are promising to live and grow in accordance with God’s design and for God’s purposes rather than their own (Psa. 101:2). No disciple begins in exactly the same place, the same knowledge or the same problems, but every disciple should seek maturity in living for God by developing a spiritual maturity in a heart for God (1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18). Upon entering the kingdom, Christians are promising to distance themselves from wickedness of every kind (Psa. 101:3-5). It is therefore essential to eschew evil (1 Pet. 3:9-12), reprove the works of darkness (Eph. 5:11), maintain a holy heart (Matt. 5:8), and avoid the wrong companions (1 Cor. 15:33). More than this, upon entering the kingdom, Christians promise to keep close to the faithful (Psa. 101:6), following their example (1 Cor. 11:1), building relationships with them (John 13:34-35), and preferring their company (Rom. 12:10). Finally, upon entering the kingdom, Christians are promising to stand against evil however it presents itself (Psa. 101:7-8). Rather than compromising conviction, God’s people stand with the Savior (2 John 9-11). Instead of accepting iniquity, the LORD’s people take action against trespasses (2 Thess. 3:6).

David fell far short of these promises at times, as the rest of inspired history makes clear. But his heart brought him back to these promises and his desire to be faithful to God each and every time. When we become Christians, we are promising our loyalty, our fidelity, and our all to the One who saved us. We may fall short in practice here and there, but may we ever keep the heart of David with a determination to keep our promises.

The Origin of Thankfulness

Few traits demonstrate a combination of humility and joy better than thankfulness. Its very nature depends on recognizing others’ contributions to our well-being and happiness. Because of this, from a young age, most parents teach their children the importance of saying, “Thank you.” And yet, as we grow older, and perhaps because we lack the necessary humility or are missing out on the joys of life, we do not seem as ready to say it—even when the situation calls for it. However, Psalm 100 exudes thankfulness. Every phrase builds on the previous to express a crescendo of thanksgiving offered to the LORD Himself. This on its own bears imitation. But this psalm’s placement follows a poetic series that begins with man’s needs, shows God’s provision, points to the Messiah, and then marvels at the possibility of forgiveness the LORD makes available in the context of His judgment. As sinners needing all of these and yet incapable of creating any circumstance comparable to such a plan, thanksgiving ought to spring forth from within our hearts like a budding flower welcoming the sun. Indeed, the psalmist captures this very sentiment with this brief psalm’s joyful cry of thanks.

While the history of the United Kingdom records various times when David rightfully might express such appreciation, and while the Jews who returned from captivity most certainly would feel it, these should serve only as mere shadows to those who realize the forgiveness available through the blood of Jesus Christ. Indeed, the broad wording of the psalm allows the reader to consider all of these perspectives while encouraging him to internalize the psalm. Thus, all that God has done should motivate us to respond with thanksgiving—yet not simply a casual “Thank you” but rather a heartfelt gratitude that builds a relationship (2 Cor. 5:14). The reality of sin and its consequences should flood our soul with guilt and shame. Indeed, this makes the possibility of forgiveness all the more real and meaningful, which in turn causes joy to well up within us until it bursts forth for all to hear (Psa. 100:1; Phil. 4:4). More than that, it changes our behavior so significantly that we take joy in serving the LORD who made it possible (Psa. 100:2a; Rom. 12:1-2), worshiping (Psa. 100:2b; Jas. 5:13) and praising Him (Psa. 100:4; 1 Pet. 1:3-5) from a heart overwhelmed with gratitude. And yet, as the psalmist declares, this newfound passion has a specific focus: the LORD. Sadly, many people separate the opportunity of forgiveness from the will and character of the One who made it possible. But Psalm 100 so integrates thanksgiving with the One worthy of it that the personal character of real thanksgiving shines brightly. Indeed, couched within this song of thanks the psalmist points to the reasons why the LORD is so deserving. Yahweh, the Hebrew name translated LORD, means “the One who is there.” It is the covenant name of God signifying that He is by the very nature of His being but also that He is there for us (Psa. 100:1) as the offer of forgiveness so demonstrates. As our Creator, we owe our very existence to Him (Psa. 100:3a; Gen. 1:26-27; Col. 1:16-18). But He is also our Shepherd, caring for our every need (Psa. 100:3b; 23:1-6; John 10:1-10). He provides only what is good for us as part of His intrinsic nature (Psa. 100:5a; Jas. 1:17) and shows us mercy daily (Psa. 100:5b), disregarding our own character to offer aid because of His character. More than that, He does not allow us to wallow in our ignorance but reveals truth to us so that we might know Him and His will and be more like Him by doing His will (Psa. 100:5c; John 8:32; 12:48; 17:17). And because He is eternal so also can His forgiveness and blessings be bestowed on those who embrace that relationship with Him (Psa. 100:5; 1 Pet. 3:8). O how we should give thanks to the LORD—not only for what He has done for us, but also because of who HE is for us!

Not Just a Name

In Psalm 97 David continues the regnal theme, beginning once more with the emphatic exultation, “The LORD reigns,” but rather than appealing to the Israelites to announce this to the nations against the futility of their paganism, the whole earth now has reason to rejoice in recognizing the LORD’s reign (Psa. 97:1). Building on the imagery of Sinai as did the Song of Deborah (Ex. 19:16-18; Jdg. 5:4-5), he declares the LORD’s righteous judgment, sure victory, and powerful presence (Psa. 97:2-5).  However, this declaration from above shines forth to all (Psa. 97:6) with such force that it offers evidence to pagan idolaters of their error and provides impetus for the angelic throng to worship (Psa. 97:7). Israel also responds to the LORD’s will (Psa. 97:8) in recognition of His exaltation (Psa. 97:9). Thus having established His worthiness to reign and the expanse of His kingdom in a reign built on righteousness, he turns his attention to the subjects of the kingdom. Describing them in essence by their love for the LORD, he follows with an unexpected contrast: “hate evil!” (Psa. 97:10). The powerful contrast of love and hate adds immediate strength to other implied contrasts between the LORD and evil. However, the exhortation of responsibility holds manifold blessings as well, because the LORD will then deliver and preserve His people (Psa. 97:10). Therefore, the righteous and upright have reason to hope (Psa. 97:11), reasons to rejoice, and reasons to give thanks when they recall what the LORD has done (Psa. 97:12).

Taken generically, all of this sounds pleasing to the godly ear, but the placement of the psalm and the nuances of the text offer far more than general encouragement, and this becomes clear upon considering Hebrews 1:6, “But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him’” (Heb. 1:6), a quotation of Psalm 97:7 identifying without question the “gods” as angels and the “Him” as Jesus Himself. Therefore, just as the previous psalm anticipated the crowning of Jesus as King, so also does Psalm 97 anticipate the time when the Son of God would reign. This, then, formed the foundation of the psalm’s promised blessings, of the reason to hope, rejoice, and give thanks. Jesus’ incarnation and sacrifice offered exactly what the world needed, Jew and Gentile alike (Rom. 3:23). Thus, the deliverance and preservation He made possible transcend this life and extend into eternity. The message announced with the imagery of the Old Covenant is the New Covenant which supplanted it, a covenant for Jew and Gentile alike. Most of all, the One who came, the One who reigns, the One who saves, and the One worthy of angelic worship is none other than Yahweh Himself. Encased in a simple psalm extolling the virtues and majesty of the one true God, the Holy Spirit placed the seed to demonstrate the deity of the Son of God. While the subtleties of the text kept the full meaning dormant for centuries, the simple reality of Jesus and the gospel proves not only the beauty of the Davidic hope but its true force as well.

The Glory Due His Name

During the early portion of David’s reign, he wanted to bring the ark of the covenant, and therefore Israel’s tabernacle worship, to Jerusalem. While originally unsuccessful due to the improper manner of transportation, eventually David saw his dream realized, and the priests placed the ark in the most holy place of the tabernacle on one of the hills of Jerusalem near David’s own dwelling. This proximity likely appealed to David, as one who enjoyed worshipping the LORD. However, as the beautiful expression he penned in Psalm 96 demonstrates, this united proximity of the throne of David and the worship of God provided the context for an appreciation for the Kingship of God that Israel consistently failed to accept and that promised even greater things for the future.

The new location of the ark created new possibilities for Israel, and yet it was important to see them spiritually. Indeed, freshness of spirit, a recognition of the covenant relationship God has made possible, and an understanding of His universal worthiness ought to motivate our worship at any time (Psa. 96:1). Thus motivated, worship becomes an opportunity to declare what God has done with a heart of thankfulness that extends beyond the moment to affect the heart daily (Psa. 96:2). Worship should change us, but it can only do so when we change how we worship. Any true conviction concerning God’s greatness cannot simply dwell within but swells up within until nothing can contain it, simply from reflecting on all that God has done and responding to Him in accordance with His will (Psa. 96:3). This is no emotional hype because our dedication and devotion to and our reverence for our God rest not on a blind faith nor on an unintellectual hope. It finds ground in the reality of His being, the truth of His character, and the power of His essence (Psa. 96:4). Therefore, our God is no crutch rooted in the imagination of the desperate; He is the Creator of the universe upon whom all depend, whether they realize it or not (Psa. 96:5). He reigns as divine royalty, with all the accompanying honors; more than that, He combines the leadership of a general and the splendor of a king while ruling on a throne that sits within a temple dedicated to His honor (Psa. 96:6). The LORD, thus enthroned, deserves all that His creation has to give, a recognition of all that He has done and can do that leads us to offer our obeisance, our allegiance, and our all as we enter His presence to worship (Psa. 96:7-8). Therefore, we must prepare ourselves for His presence accordingly, dressing ourselves in the robes of holiness as we humbly approach His throne (Psa. 96:9). Then, knowing the LORD, His character, and His will bring forth a confidence in the future that nothing else can approach. The simple knowledge that “The LORD reigns” is sufficient to know that, whatever else may happen upon this earth, righteousness will prevail (Psa. 96:10). This makes joy, gladness, and confidence in life possible, regardless of anything else that might occur (Psa. 96:11-12). The LORD had a plan, a plan to come forth from the abode of His sanctuary to establish His reign unmistakably and thus to rule within righteousness accordingly to the standard of truth (Psa. 96:13).

When David brought the throne of mercy near to his own throne, he never realized the ultimate end God had in mind. But when Jesus came to earth to fulfill the Messianic mission, He, as the standard bearer for the throne of David, established His reign in a kingdom not of this earth (Matt. 16:18-19; John 18:36) by being raised from the dead—not only to rule as the rightful heir of David, but to do so from the throne of mercy existing in heaven itself (Heb. 1:8-9; 9:24-28). How truly worthy God is of our worship, of our devotion, and of our lives! In all that we do, may we ever remember “the glory due His name”!

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