Learning from Psalms 98-106
98:1-100:5- ‘Exalt the Lord our God... Make a joyful noise to the Lord’(99:5,9; 98:4,6; 100:1). We are to worship the Lord with joy. We are to glorify God. We are to enjoy Him. In our worship, we must never forget the holiness of God: ‘He is holy!... The Lord our God is holy!’(99:5,9). In our worship, we rejoice in the love of God: ‘His steadfast love endures for ever... He has done marvellous things!’(100:5; 98:1). The God of ‘awesome purity’ loves us with the most perfect love of all: ‘No earthly father loves like Thee...’. Let us worship Him with holy fear and heartfelt love: ‘O how I fear Thee, living God, with deepest, tenderest fears... with trembling hope and penitential tears! Yet I may love Thee too, O Lord, Almighty as Thou art, for Thou hast stooped to ask of me the love of my poor heart’(Church Hymnary, 356).
101:1-102:28- ‘I will sing of Your love... I will walk with integrity of heart...’(101:1-2). These words were written many centuries ago. ‘Things are very different now’- so we’re told! Worshipping the Lord and walking with Him: Are these things out-of-date now? Are they to be forgotten? So many people have no time for the Lord. They feel that they can do without Him. They refuse to worship Him. They do not walk with Him. In our ever-changing world, there is something we must never forget: The Lord is ‘enthroned for ever’. His ‘Name endures to all generations’. In all the changes of life, the Lord ‘remains the same’. His ‘years go on through all generations’. His ‘years will never end’(12,24,27). These words were ‘written for a future generation’. They were written for us. We must not forget to ‘praise the Lord’(18)!
103:1-22- ‘Praise the Lord’(1-2,20-22). Let’s praise Him for His ‘steadfast love’. He is ‘abounding in steadfast love’(8). How are we to respond to His ‘steadfast love’? Are we to say, ‘God loves me. I can do what I like’? No! We must not think like this. We’re not to say, ‘I’ll keep on sinning. God will keep on forgiving’(Romans 6:1-2). God’s Word tells us something very different. Loved by God, we learn to love Him. When God’s ‘steadfast love’ has really touched our hearts, it changes our lives. This is the great change which the Psalmist has in mind when he writes, ‘As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him... The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear Him’(11,17). Let’s thank God for His love - and live to please Him!
104:1-35- ‘I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live’(33). Do you feel like giving up? Other things are becoming more important to you. Worshipping the Lord is being pushed out to the edge of your life. Wrong attitudes are creeping in. It starts with the idea, ‘Worship’s just an hour on a Sunday’. Then, it becomes, ‘I’ll worship the Lord when I feel like it’. It soon becomes, ‘I’ll worship the Lord when I’ve nothing better to do’. Before long, all desire for worshipping the Lord has gone! Little-by-little, you are drifting away from the Lord. It’s time to start thinking about what’s happening. It’s time for a new beginning. It’s time for an ‘all my life’ commitment to worshipping the Lord - not just on a Sunday, not only when I feel like it, not only ‘when there’s nothing better to do’!
105:1-22- ‘Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. Remember the wonderful works that He has done...’(4-5). The Lord gives strength to those who put their trust in Him. Trusting in Christ, we have this great testimony: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’(Philippians 4:13). How do we receive the Lord’s strength? We must ‘seek His face always. We must not think we can face difficult circumstances in our strength. Without the strength of the Lord, we will be defeated. He has helped us in the past. Never forget this. Give thanks to Him for every victory won. As you face temptation, remember the Lord’s promise of victory: ‘God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength. With the temptation, He will also provide the way of escape...’(1 Corinthians 10:13).
105:23-45- ‘He brought His people out with joy’(43). When things are going badly and we feel like giving up, we must remember the Word of the Lord: ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength’(Nehemiah 8:10). We are to ‘rejoice in the Lord always’. The Lord does not leave us on our own when our time of testing comes. He is there for us in our time of need: ‘My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus’(Philippians 4:4,19). When we are deeply conscious of our own weakness, the Lord comes to us with His Word of strength: ‘My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness’(2 Corinthians 12:9). Through the Word of God, we receive strength. His Word brings joy to us. Let us sing ‘glad songs of victory’: ‘The Lord is my Strength, my Song, my Saviour’(118:14-15).
106:1-48- We read here about sin and salvation. There is a very realistic description of Israel’s sin - ‘They soon forgot what He had done and did not wait for His counsel... They despised the pleasant land; they did not believe His promise... They grumbled in their tents and did not obey the Lord... They rebelled against the Spirit of God’(13,24-25,33). This is not only ancient history. It’s the story of our life! We read this, and we must join in Israel’s confession of sin: ‘We have sinned, even as our fathers did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly’(6). The history of Israel is not only a history of sin. It is also a history of salvation: ‘He saved them...’(8,10). As we read of God’s salvation, we must echo the prayer of God’s people - ‘Save us, O Lord our God...’- and join with them in praising God - ‘Praise be to the Lord...’(47-48).