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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 98

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-3


“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him” (Revelation 19:6-Judges :).

We may well put these verses as the title above this psalm, for with the coming of Christ, the King of Israel, the cup of thanksgiving and praise of the faithful remnant of Israel overflows. Back then, the people sang a song because of their deliverance from Egypt (Exodus 15:1-Job :; Psalms 77:11-2 Kings :). But in Isaiah 43, the LORD says: “Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? … The people whom I formed for Myself will declare My praise” (Isaiah 43:18-Psalms :; Isaiah 43:21).

The song of praise is a new song after a new redemption. Compare Revelation 15 where the LORD is called the King of the nations and all the nations will come and bow down before Him (Revelation 15:3-Numbers :). The expressions in the new song of this psalm are largely from the second half of the book of Isaiah (Psalms 98:1 - Isaiah 42:10; Isaiah 51:16Isaiah 52:10; Psalms 98:2 - Isaiah 51:5; Isaiah 40:5; Psalms 98:3 - Isaiah 49:8; Psalms 98:4 - Isaiah 44:23; Isaiah 52:9; Psalms 98:7 - Isaiah 55:12).

Not only will the remnant magnify the LORD (Psalms 98:4-Joshua :), but also the nations, symbolically represented by the sea (Psalms 98:7-1 Samuel :), who were at first in rebellion against God, will rejoice before the LORD. Yes, “let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Hallelujah!” (Psalms 150:6).

Sing to the Redeemer

This is “a psalm” (Psalms 98:1). It is the only psalm in the entire book with this short heading. But the content is all-encompassing. The psalmist again calls for singing “a new song” to the LORD, because He has brought about a new age (Psalms 98:1; cf. Psalms 96:1; Psalms 33:3). To that belongs a new song.

It is not just a repetition of the song from Psalm 96. It is a strengthening of it. In Psalm 96 we find a song of praise for the Creator-God, here it is a song of praise for the Redeemer-God, a song of praise that belongs to a triumph! It is also an answer to the prayers of the remnant (cf. Isaiah 64:1-Numbers :).

To bring about that new age, a time of undisturbed blessing for His people and the whole earth, “He has done wonderful things” (cf. Psalms 77:14; Psalms 86:10). He has caused everything to turn for the better for His people. In performing His wonders, no one helped Him. He did it Himself, with “His right hand and His holy arm”. His right hand speaks of power (cf. Isaiah 59:16; Isaiah 63:5). His arm also speaks of power to which “holy” is added here because His work is a holy work.

These “have gained the victory for Him”, that is, through them redemption, salvation has been accomplished. While His people deserved judgment, He brought them into blessing for His own sake. This is not primarily about His people, but about Him. The purpose of the work of salvation is the maintenance of His own authority and government.

Every conversion of a human being is a wonder brought about by God. There is nothing of man in it. Those who have been converted will realize that it is because of a work of God’s Spirit in their hearts. By grace a man is saved, not by works (Ephesians 2:8). Every believer will eternally praise Him for this with songs of thanksgiving and worship. He has done everything to the praise of the glory of His grace (Ephesians 1:5-Joshua :).

Israel’s salvation is “His salvation” (Psalms 98:2). He has established His kingdom, He has done it. It is His salvation. That’s how faith sees it. He has made that known all over the earth, not by proclamation in words, but by performing it. In the past it was visible in the redemption of His people from Egypt and the return from exile in Babylon. Above all, it is visible in the work Christ accomplished on the cross.

His salvation and His righteousness are two sides of His work. His salvation means blessing for all who are saved. His righteousness is the basis for this, for Christ fulfilled His righteousness by bearing the sins of all who are saved. Therefore, God can make His salvation come true.

“His lovingkindness and His faithfulness” (Psalms 98:3) are the starting point for the unfolding of His power in His salvation and His righteousness. Lovingkindness or love and faithfulness are always present in Him. It belongs to His Being. Lovingkindness is the blessing, love and goodness of the LORD by virtue of His covenant; faithfulness is the assurance that He and His covenant are unchanging.

In His lovingkindness and faithfulness, He has always had in His heart the promised blessing for His people, “the house of Israel” (cf. Luke 1:54-2 Timothy :; Luke 1:72). The house of Israel is the whole people, the remnant of the two and ten tribes, in the land. All unbelievers perished. The rest of Israel is “all Israel” that is saved (Romans 11:26; cf. Zechariah 13:8-1 Samuel :).

The people did think that He had forgotten them (Psalms 77:10). But that is impossible, for He cannot forget His lovingkindness and His faithfulness. He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). That is what the house of Israel will experience. The testimony of “the salvation of our God” will be seen by “all the ends of the earth”. The psalmist speaks of “our God”, that is, the God of His people, the God Who takes care of His people. Everyone on earth will see this and honor Him for it.

The Hebrew word eretz, translated here as “earth”, may also be translated as “land” (Israel). The choice depends on the context. Given the contrast with Psalms 98:7 – the sea, symbolizing the nations – it is better to translate the word eretz with ‘land’ in Psalms 98:3 and in Psalms 98:4. Then in Psalms 98:4-Joshua : we find the praise song of Israel and in Psalms 98:7-1 Samuel : the praise song of the nations.

Verses 4-6

Shout Joyfully to the King

What has been said about the LORD in the preceding verses about the redemption He has wrought for His people demands a response. That comes from the psalmist, who calls on “all the earth” to “shout joyfully to the LORD” (Psalms 98:4). It must be an outburst of joyful shouting and singing praises (cf. Isaiah 44:23; Isaiah 49:13Isaiah 52:9; Isaiah 54:1Isaiah 55:12).

The singing of the praises must be accompanied by a stringed instrument, the lyre, and the singing must be loud (Psalms 98:5; cf. Isaiah 51:3). There are also two wind instruments: trumpets and the horn (Psalms 98:6). The trumpet is used to call the people together and bring them to God’s remembrance (Numbers 10:2; Numbers 10:8-2 Samuel :). The sound of the horn announces the jubilee year, when everything is returned to its rightful owner, and the enthronement of the king (Leviticus 25:9; 1 Kings 1:39). Both events are fulfilled with the coming of the Messiah.

All the additions underscore the revelry. The joy swells into a great concert. It could not be otherwise, for the great “King, the LORD” reigns. He has taken the reign upon Himself and brought the earth back under the rule of God. That means great prosperity and blessing for God’s people and the whole earth. Who then would not be immensely happy?

For us, the Lord Jesus already has dominion over us now. God has already made Him Lord and Christ. He possesses His kingdom in heaven and in the heart of every person who has accepted Him as Lord and confesses it with his mouth (Romans 10:9-2 Samuel :). Such a person is a subject in the kingdom of God which at this time consists of “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”, in which Christ is served (Romans 14:17-Job :).

Verses 7-9

Sing for Joy Before the Judge

Because the Creator-King reigns, the sea and the world of the nations are called to join the chorus of the joyful shouting crowd (Psalms 98:7). “The sea … and all it contains” is the sea of the nations. It is synonymous with the second half of the verse “the world and those who dwell in it” (cf. Psalms 96:11). The sea of nations, once whipped up and troubled, producing mire and mud (Isaiah 57:20), is now going to clap its hands before the LORD, Who has come. There will be an outburst of joy. “The sea” is to “roar and all it contains”. The sea, which has always been mighty and indomitable, joins with all that it contains with its roaring voice to the chorus shouting for joy before the King.

The foothills of the sea, the rivers, which traverse the world, and the mountains, which rise above the world, are called to express themselves in a loud and joyful tone (Psalms 98:8; cf. Isaiah 55:12). The expressions of joy fill the creation that has been freed from the sighing caused by sin (Romans 8:19-Song of Solomon :). Creation breathes a sigh of relief; it comes to rest and to the purpose for which God created it: to honor Him.

Why should the whole world rejoice and be merry “before the LORD” (Psalms 98:9)? Because He is coming to judge the world in righteousness. That means that all evil will be righteously removed by Him and then He will rule righteously (Isaiah 11:3-Deuteronomy :). This is what the believer and with him the whole creation craves.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 98". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/psalms-98.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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