Summer of Psalms: The Ministry of Celebration

BIG IDEA: When is the last time you really celebrated? When we stop celebrating, it usually means that we’ve stopped reflecting upon the marvelous things of God. That’s good news because it means that celebration is just a reflection away.

SERIES: Summer of Psalms – In many ways, the Psalms are at the Pheart of Scripture, but we often disregard them. Let’s reclaim the wonder of the Psalms! Let’s reclaim this God breathed collection of 150 poems of the people of God sung aloud for thousands of years by the Hebrew people, inspiring and teaching generation after generation of Jewish children to communicate with Yahweh the one true God. Written prophets, poets, reflecting upon life with God between the Time of King David and the exile to Babylon, collected and organized for us by Spirit led scribes so that all people might have access to them, memorized and used for God’s people, including Jesus and his followers as “THE” vital connecting point for the hurting, praising, suffering, confused, joyful considerers. We must reclaim the Psalms if we want to learn to pray, to live, to connect with God.

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 98
1 Oh sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
2 The LORD has made known his salvation;
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.

4 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
5 Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!

7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
the world and those who dwell in it!
8 Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the hills sing for joy together
9 before the LORD, for he comes
to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity.

 

KEY CONSIDERATIONS

  • A Petition: the psalmist begins Psalm 98 with a petition, asking everyone around him to celebrate with him because he has seen something. But not just the people around him, he asks everyone on the Earth because he has seen something great. But that’s not enough either; he then asks all of creation to rejoice with him.
    • A command: This isn’t really a request. It’s a command to be jubilant and to make melody.
  • Celebration is a human longing: it’s at the core of who we are as human beings. We celebrate all of our cultural mile-markers, our local brands, our sports teams, etc. We celebrate holidays, natural events, even the existence of things like foods and animals and occupations. We look for any excuse to celebrate something.
  • What is this psalmist celebrating? In verse 1 we see the answer. The psalmist has seen the marvelous things God has done.
  • When was the last time you would describe your walk with God using the word “celebration”? More often than not, for those of us who are Christians, it’s been far too long since celebration has been a key part of our walk with Christ.
  • You can’t force celebration: you’ve lost the heart of celebration when you start saying “I should” But when you’ve stopped celebrating, it means that you’ve stopped reflecting on the marvelous things of God.
  • What are the marvelous things of God we should be celebrating?
    • “His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him”: this is when God reaches into human history and works out salvation for his people. The psalmist would have been referring to one of the many times that God reached out and saved his people (the Exodus from Egypt, etc.)
      • “The Lord has made known his salvation…”: the psalmist points back to the covenant that God made with his people to Abraham, that Israel would serve as a witness to all nations. And God gave Israel his law so that they could be that witness to the nations.
      • New Covenant: we, knowing Christ, have even more to celebrate than the early Israelites did because we have seen the Old Covenant fulfilled. Jesus is the true Israel, and he functions as the person upholding the covenant for Israel. And so we celebrate because we have seen the ultimate salvation event of Christ.
    • Celebration is rooted in looking back at the salvation of the covenant: when Jesus was on the cross, he served as “substitutionary atonement.” He takes the sin of the people and takes the judgment from God for their sins.
      • 1 Peter 2
      • Reflect on your sin: Celebration comes when we see our sin on Jesus on the cross. This is what we should see when we reflect on our salvation, and the more you reflect on the fact that you are fallen and sinful, the more grace you will recognize and experience and with that grace comes gratitude and celebration and joy.
    • Celebration is rooted in the hope of the completion of the covenant:
      • Hope is knowledge of a future reality that gives us energy today.
      • “For he comes to judge the earth…”: the psalmist recognizes the joy of righteous judgment.
        • Salvation and judgment cannot be separated from each other: if you save a people group from anything from racism to genocide, you must in turn enact judgment on the oppressor. Salvation and judgment go hand in hand.
        • Judging with equity: The Hebrew notions in righteous and equity have to do with the method in which a decision is implemented. When the Lord’s judgment comes, we will see and know that his judgment will be right. We will see it and say “that was appropriate.”
        • Salvation and judgment bring about justice: our psalmist is celebrating because he sees a time of justice coming in the future.
        • How do we know this is the case? We see judgment through the pollution of the fall. We see it as a bad thing because judgment on earth doesn’t always bring about justice. But because God sent his son to earth to die on the cross and he raised him from the dead, and in doing so, he conquered death, promising righteous judgment.
        • Satan is not that powerful: he convinces humanity to rebel against God so that we will be on the wrong side of judgment. But when Jesus died on the cross, he outed Satan’s scheme as a rouse. As Christians, Satan cannot touch us, so what is his goal? Satan’s goal is to kill our celebration because that deflates us.

Our Response

  • Are you celebrating? If you’re not celebrating, you’re not living into your salvation. What if we celebrated Christianity with the fervor that we celebrate nearly everything else in this world? What’s your witness to your friends like? Create a celebration that’s attractive to the nations!
  • Psalm 98 is an invitation to celebrate.

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