The Book of Psalms

Thursday: An Exuberant Praise Psalm


Theme: Praise to God the King
In this week’s lessons, we see that all creation is called upon to praise the Lord.
Scripture: Psalm 98:1-9
The second stanza of Psalm 98 praises God as King, which is why it is included in the block of royal psalms (Psalms 93-100). The first stanza praised God as Savior and called on the people of Israel to sing a new song to him. This stanza views him as king not only of Israel but of the whole earth. Therefore, it broadens its call to worship to engage the whole earth in singing his well-deserved praises: “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—shout for joy before the LORD, the King.”
The most striking feature of this stanza is something we have seen before and will see again, namely, the desire of the psalmist that the worship of God be joyful and above all loud. “The noise of temple worship was legendary,” according to Marvin E. Tate.1 He points to the accounts of Israel’s worship in 2 Chronicles 29:25-30 and Ezra 3:10-13, where in the second passage the sound of the instruments and the shouts of the people are said to have been “heard far away” (Ezra 3:13).
Should the worship of God’s people be any less exuberant today? Should we be quiet when we have come to know him who is the great King above all kings and the great Lord above all lords? Shame on us for all lackluster worship and all half-hearted praise.
The Methodists have always been noted for their hearty singing of God’s praises, and one reason for it is what John Wesley told his followers. The father of Methodism said, “Sing lustily, and with good courage, Beware of singing as if you were half dead or asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, than when you sang the songs of Satan.”2 Not all of us have good voices. But I do not think the angels find poor voices offensive when hearts are full of gratitude to God.
1Marvin E. Tate, Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 20, Psalms 51-100 (Dallas: Word, 1990), p. 525.
2Quoted by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 2b, Psalms 88-110 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1966), p. 212.
Study Questions:

Why was worship in the temple loud?
What contributes to our worship being lackluster and half-hearted?
How does the second stanza of the psalm broaden its call to worship?

Reflection: How would you characterize praise in your church? Is your own worship marked by the exuberance of this psalm?

Study Questions
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