Looking forward to a redeemed world – Psalm 96

The 4th book of Psalms

Psalm 96 is a song of triumph, not only for God’s present victory in bringing the people out of exile but also to God’s final victory when the whole Earth is redeemed.

The silhouette of small hills across a bay. Above is a red and god sky of a sunset, Ibiza, Spain

The 4th book of Psalms, those 17 religious songs between psalms 90 and 106, have a theme, God is above us.

The layout is like this:

Book 1: Psalms 1 – 41: God is beside us.
Book 2: Psalms 42 – 72: God goes before us
Book 3: Psalms 73 – 89: God is all around us.
Book 4: Psalms 90 – 106: God is above us.
Book 5: Psalms 107 – 150: God is among us.

Book 4 answers the questions of Books 1-3 with the message that God is king.

Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
    sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
    tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvellous works among all the peoples!
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
    he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
    but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendour and majesty are before him;
    strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering, and come into his courts!
Worship the Lord in the splendour of holiness;
    tremble before him, all the earth!
10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!
    Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
    he will judge the peoples with equity.”
11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
    let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12     let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13     before the Lord, for he comes,
    for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
    and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Psalm 96 ESV UK

This is God’s world, and he wants it back

The Lion handbook of the Bible (mine is the second edition from 1983) Says of this psalm, “A song of God’s salvation, his goodness and his glory. A song of universal joy at his coming in judgement.”

That is a good summary, but the psalm goes further than salvation to the redemption of all creation.

Redemption when applied to God means exactly what it means when you talk about the redemption of a loan it means buying back. Salvation is both a smaller term than redemption and also a larger term. Theologians argue about this (they argue about everything) but they are looking at it in different ways. The large redemption, the redemption of all of creation can be simply summed up

There are levels of redemption which can be described in words beginning re:

The Re-words:

  1. Restoration: bringing back the lost
  2. Redemption: buying back what was formerly owned.
  3. Renewal: making new again, restoring to an original state.
  4. Reconciliation: regaining a friend.
  5. Regeneration: being born again, having a new beginning.
  6. Resurrection: becoming physically alive again, after death.

What the Bible talks about by Salvation is in steps 5 and 6. Not only has the mercy of God brought us back to Gpd but the grace of God in pouring out the Holy Spirit on the Church has given us a new beginning and we are alive in Jesus Christ already.

But there is more to redemption than this. Don’t worry I am still talking about Psalm 96. In Romans chapter 8 Paul talks about the redemption of our bodies, but Revelation 14:3–4 talks about people being redeemed from the earth. it happens here on earth, we don’t have to wait for heaven. Back to Romans 8, Paul continues to talk about creation waiting to be redeemed. God gets his creation back.

The first 9 verses of Psalm 96 are about giving praise to God because God has brought his people back from exile. Shout songs of praise to God and proclaim it, yes proclaim it rather than preach it, to the surrounding nations that God is not only above the people but above their gods which are no more powerful than the wood or metal their idols are made of. God will judge everybody

Then at verse 10 comes the twist. Not only is the psalm talking of God’s judgement of everybody, but stating that God, in judging will be fair to everybody. God will treat everyone fairly, there is none of the scare tactics of hellfire preaching here. God is not coming in judgement to kick ass but God will judge everyone fairly. All of creation will be put right when God comes and all of creation rejoices because God has got back what belongs to him.


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