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PRAISE GOD FOR HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS;
A GLIMPSE OF THE FINAL JUDGMENT DAY
"This is a jubilant song of praise to God, because of the marvel that the divine revelation of salvation should be known to the ends of the earth." If all people really understood what a marvel the salvation of God actually is, perhaps there would be a more general song of thanksgiving arising from the hearts of mankind.
Just think! In all the history of the universe, there is no such thing as "forgiveness" until we come to Christ. None of the laws of nature ever forgave a violator even for the fraction of a second. All nature is red in tooth and fang and claw. No hawk ever forgave the prey; no wild beast ever forgave the victim. No serpent ever forgave the careless heel.
When the angels of God kept not their first estate, but sinned, there was no hint of forgiveness. The same verse of the holy text which tells of their sin speaks of their destruction and of their being reserved in chains of darkness till the day of judgment and the destruction of ungodly men.
Even under the Law of Moses, although a provisional "forgiveness" was extended to the righteous, even so, "There was a remembrance of sins year by year," due to the fact of its being impossible that, "the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin" (Hebrews 10:3-4).
At the World's Fair in New York City in 1964, the Moody Institute staged an exhibit showing the marvel of forgiveness. The nearest star to our earth is four light years distant, and this means that the light we see began its journey to our earth two million years ago! God, being ubiquitous, everywhere simultaneously throughout His whole universe, sees all things continually. All the sins of everyone's past life are clearly visible to God; in a sense, He is still seeing everything anyone ever did. How can He forgive us, when He is still seeing us commit whatever sins may have marred our lives? It is a marvel indeed; and not only does God forgive, He can and does forget the sins He forgives!
The very first verse of this psalm calls it a "New Song"; and we believe that is because it sings of "salvation," that is, the forgiveness which God brings to mankind in Christ. What a gloriously new thing indeed is God's forgiveness! Halley's remark that, "Since this is a new song, it may be one of those which will be sung in heaven," is undoubtedly the truth.
Adam Clarke has this regarding Psalms 98:
"In the Hebrew, this psalm is simply called `A Psalm.' In the Chaldee it is labeled, `A prophetic Psalm.' In the Vulgate, the LXX, and the Ethiopic it is called, `A Psalm of David.'
"In the Syriac, it is attributed to David and stated to have been composed concerning the restoration of the Israelites from Egypt. Spiritually, this psalm applies to the Advent of the Messiah and the calling of the Gentiles into the Christian faith.
"It was probably written to celebrate the deliverance of Israel from their Babylonian captivity; but it is to be understood prophetically of the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ."
The closing verses of the psalm are eschatalogical and relate to the Final Judgment of the Great Day. "The psalm closes with the prophecy that the Judgment will be characterized by righteousness and equity."
"In this psalm, there are no comparisons with the heathen, no instructions for correct worship, all is joy and exhilaration." It is one of the happiest of the psalms.
Barnes observed that, "This psalm does not admit of a particular analysis," We shall study it one verse at a time.
"Oh sing unto Jehovah a new song;
He hath done marvelous things:
His right hand, and his holy arm, have wrought salvation for him."
"A new song." (See the chapter introduction for comments on this.) The second and third clauses here may be understood as reference to that "forgiveness" (salvation) which God has achieved for mankind.
"Salvation for him." This means salvation "for God" in the sense of it's being God's achievement, not for himself, but for mankind.
"Jehovah hath made known his salvation:
His righteousness hath he openly showed in the
sight of all nations."
"In the sight of all nations." This great salvation which God achieved was accomplished during his visitation to our planet in the person of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. His death, burial and resurrection constitute the unique basis of that salvation; and the message of this verse is that God brought this to pass in such a manner that all the men on earth could not fail to be aware of it. It was "in the sight of all nations." As Paul expressed it, "This thing hath not been done in a comer" (Acts 26:26).
Indeed it was not done in a comer. The whole-world had every opportunity to know all about it. The same is true of all who were ever born. Historical time is reckoned from the birth of Jesus Christ, an event that split all time in half. All letters, newspapers, legal documents, treaties, legislations, etc. are dated from the birth of Christ. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the most important historical records of the human race. Yes, this was done before all the nations.
"He hath remembered his lovingkindness and his faithfulness toward the house of Israel:
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God."
The psalmist, who was an Israelite, naturally stressed the marvelous things God had done on behalf of Israel. The deliverance from Egypt, the Red Sea crossing, the wilderness wonders, the pillar of cloud, the pillar of fire, the manna, and the water from the smitten rock were among those wonders; and the conquest of Canaan and the eviction of the pagan nations by the conquest - all these marvelous doings upon Israel's behalf were continually brought before the minds of the chosen people.
"All the ends of the earth have seen." Indeed, this was true. One of the constellations in the heavens was believed to represent Israel; all the nations were aware that none other than God himself had delivered Israel from Egypt, cast the pagan nations out of Canaan and settled Israel therein. Even in the times when the Saviour was born, all the kings of the earth were expecting the birth of the Mighty One.
"Make a joyful noise unto Jehovah, all the earth;
Break forth and sing for joy, yea, sing praises."
The logic here, as Yates saw it, is this: "Since all the earth has seen how God has delivered Israel, all men are called to join Israel in worshipping him." It seems tragic that Israel never seemed to catch on to the fact that the worship of God by all nations foretold here would bring the Gentiles into God's favor on an equal footing with Israel. It was this tragic blindness which, in the principal part, set Israel against the Messiah and embittered the nation against Paul.
"Sing praises unto Jehovah with the harp;
With the harp and the voice of melody.
With trumpets and the sound of cornet
Make a joyful noise before the King, Jehovah."
The message of these two verses is one. They are a call to bring the mechanical instruments of music into the worship of God. (For more comments on this, see my comments on this at the end of Psalms 150.)
These words, like Psalms 98:4. are addressed to "all nations." "God's covenant relationship with Israel was never intended to be exclusive (Genesis 12:3); but it was intended to be the prelude to the universal extension of his blessings."
"Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof;
The world, and they that dwell therein."
The second clause here is parallel with the first, indicating that the roaring sea is a metaphor of the restless, rebellious, and sinful populations of the earth. The message is: "Let them foam out their fury with all the vehemence they can muster, God is going to do something supremely GREAT; and there's not a thing that the opposing, antagonistic populations of mankind will be able to do about it." That Great Something will be announced in Psalms 98:9 (below).
"Let the floods clap their hands;
Let the hills sing for joy together."
Nature itself is here pictured as joining the praise and joy at the coming of God in judgment. Delitzsch tells us that this reference to "The floods `clapping their hands' is original with this psalm. The rest of the language here is either similar or identical with the language of other psalms.
"Before Jehovah; for he cometh to judge the earth:
He will judge the world with righteousness,
And the peoples with equity."
"Before Jehovah." These words belong to the preceding verse, carrying the meaning that all that singing and the joyful noises, the clapping of hands, etc. shall be performed "before Jehovah."
"Jehovah cometh to judge the earth ... he will judge the world." It is amazing that Anchor Bible translates this as God's coming to "Govern the world." No, God's Final Judgment, indicated here, will not be for the purpose of "governing the world." A summary of some of the things God has revealed that will be accomplished upon that Great Day includes the following:
(1) God will wipe this Adam off the face of the earth (Zephaniah 1:3).
(2) The earth and everything in it will be burned up (2 Peter 3:10).
(3) A new heaven and a new earth shall appear (2 Peter 3:13).
(4) All nations shall be summonsed before the throne of Christ for judgment (Matthew 25).
(5) The redeemed shall receive their reward, and
(6) the wicked shall be banished from the presence of God forever (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
(7) There shall be a general resurrection of the dead (Hebrews 9:27).
(8) Cosmic disturbances of the greatest dimensions shall occur; every mountain, and every island shall be moved out of its place, and the sun shall become black (Revelation 6:12ff). At that time, of course, the probation of Adam's race shall have been concluded.
Mankind is repeatedly warned that the Great Judgment spoken of here will not be a day when Christ will begin to reign and govern the earth; "That will be the day he will end his reign on earth" (1 Corinthians 15:20-28), The reign of Christ is going on at the present time for those who love him (Matthew 28:18-20).
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Psalms 98". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19