Sing a New Song, For He Comes

Christmas in the Psalms  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  34:56
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Jesus’ primary purpose for coming as a man was a rescue mission, to save humanity; but for those who would reject him, judgment will come. Psalm 96 speaks of the judgment of the coming King; that he will judge the earth, that his judgment will be righteous and that it will be done in his faithfulness.

Psalm 96 ESV
Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.” Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.
Psalm 96 is part of a group of psalms that have become known as the ‘enthronement psalms’ because their primary message is the affirmation of the Lord’s reign over all of the earth and all of creation. The words of Psalm 96 were not originally written in the form of this psalm but, they actually appear to have been taken from a song that King David wrote which is found in 1 Chronicles 16:8-36. In that section of 1 Chronicles, verses 23-33 are identical to the words in psalm 96. It is believed by some scholars because of where the words appear in 1 Chronicles, that King David wrote the original song found in 1 Chronicles to celebrate the Ark of the Covenant entering into the city of Jerusalem when it was returned from the Philistines who had the ark in their possession for several years after taking it while Saul was King. At some point a portion of the song in 1 Chronicles was taken and made Psalm 96.
Historically, in Jesus’ church, Psalm 96 has been associated with advent and the Christmas season because of its strong message to praise God as the King who would come to judge the earth, and of course, this is a theme which strongly resonates with the Christmas season, the incarnation of Jesus Christ and his purpose for why he came. So this morning, that is how we will approach this psalm, it is a call to celebrate the Lord as we look forward to our coming King.
The psalm opens in verse one and two with a three-fold call to ‘sing’ to the Lord and it says specifically in verse one, ‘sing to the Lord a NEW song’. And verse 2-3 gives us the reason to sing new song to the Lord. His people praise Him in response to his salvation day after day and his marvelous works (v2-3). David Matthis writes about this call to God’s people, he says:
New songs of praise are appropriate for new rescues and fresh manifestations of grace. As long as God is gracious toward us, as long as he keeps showing us his power, and wowing us with his works, it is fitting that we not just sing old songs inspired by his past grace, but also that we sing new songs about his ever-streaming, never-ceasing grace.
The psalmist is calling God’s people to use our talents and our words to sing new songs of what he has done for us because his mercies are new every morning; we all woke up and had breath in our lungs this morning; that is itself a mercy from our Lord. But some of you may ask, what about those of us who are not musically inclined, who don’t know the first thing about writing a song? Well I think singing a new song can also refer to the posture of our hearts when we sing to the Lord songs we have sung in the past. We may sing words we have sung before, but we sing them in light of the recognition of new blessings.
So for example; right now, one of my favourite songs is ‘See You Again’ by the Grey Havens. It is a song that rejoices in the fact that we will see our loved ones who are in Jesus, once again in Paradise and the song refers more specifically to an intimate husband and wife relationship. So when I listen to this song and sing along to it, one day, I will find myself singing and in my mind, praising God for the fact that I will see my loved ones again whom are in Christ, that he has prepared a place for us which is greater than our minds can comprehend and then the next day I will find myself singing it again and this time praising God for my wife, that I get the privilege of walking out this life with Kate in Christ and there are two specific lines that make me think of Kate and my ultimate hope for her as her husband, the lines say “I always knew you could be like this, I saw flashes and glimpses before..”. It refers to the fact that though we are broken, sinful people Christ is making us more and more into his image and as Kate’s husband, I get to witness glimpses of glory in Kate as she becomes more Christlike through his grace when we have both passed from this earth and have met up in heaven, what i see now in glimpses and moments, I will see in full as she is wholly and complete redeemed by Christ and what he is making new on this earth will be made completely new in eternity. I will look upon Kate and say: ‘I always knew you could be like this, I saw flashes and glimpses through our life together.”
Each day it becomes a new song as I sing a new aspect of what the psalmist calls the ‘marvelous works’ of God in verse 2, which, brothers and sisters are so abundant that they should cause praise to burst forth from us afresh every day! This is what he psalmist is alluding to when he says, ‘tell of his salvation from day to day’. Those words imply that each day the Lord delivers his people in some new way, that day by day, he is working in us, and he is working for us, and he is sustaining us, keeping us, protecting us, growing us; and we praise in response from a heart of gratitude over his marvelous works.
Of course, in this season of advent as we move toward Christmas, the marvelous work, the new act of salvation we most readily reflect on as the body of Christ, which causes us to sing a new song to the Lord is the coming of Jesus, God’s son, as a child, born of a virgin, through whom salvation would come.
The beginning and middle of Psalm 96 is filled with consistent commands to praise and worship the Lord as well as general pronouncements of why praise is due to God. In v10, the psalmist says: becuase he reigns, becuase he established the earth, because he judges the people. For the duration of Psalm 96, the call to praise and worship remains rather general, under the umbrella of the marvellous works of God until the last couple of verses when the psalmist gives specific reasons for why all of creation should praise and worship the Lord and the reason he gives is a prophetic pronouncement pointing to the coming of Jesus.
Psalm 96:12–13 ESV
let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.
And this is what we celebrate in the Christmas season, the coming of God as a man in the form of a babe who would come for the reasons the psalmist lists: He will judge the world, his judgement will be righteous and his judgment will be done in faithfulness.
So let’s consider why he came according to these two verses and what it means that he will judge the world, his judgment is righteous and it will be done in faithfulness.

He comes to judge the earth

Jesus said this himself in the gospel of John:
John 9:39 ESV
Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”
“For judgment I came into this world”. Some men and women stumble over these words from Jesus recorded in John 9 because they seem to contradict words Jesus said about the purpose of his coming, which John recorded in other parts of his gospel.
John 3:17 ESV
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
John 12:47 ESV
If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.
In these statements Jesus says, I did not come to ‘condemn’, and I do not ‘judge’, but, in John 9, he says, ‘for judgment I came’. So how are we to understand this seeming contradiction? As you can imagine, Jesus is not contradicting himself or his purpose for coming. In John 3 when he says he did not come to ‘condemn the world’ Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus, in John 12 when Jesus says ‘I did not come to judge’ he is speaking to a crowd of Jews. In both instances he is teaching them what his PRIMARY purpose is in coming; the chief end for his earthly ministry. Whereas in John 9 Jesus is speaking to Pharisees and is explaining a natural result of the primary purpose of his ministry.
The primary purpose or chief end for the incarnation and Jesus’ earthly ministry as he presents it in John 3 and John 12 was to save humanity, It was a rescue mission, to secure salvation for all who would and all who will believe in Him. This is why he said, “I did not come to judge the world but to save it”, his mission was one of rescue; but, with such a mission, it follows naturally that since some, but not all of humanity would be saved through his work, those that would not be saved, but remain in sin and rebellion against God would and will be judged and condemned for their rejection of Jesus as saviour. He came to save, but there are those who reject him and therefore it is not contradictory for him to say “I came to save” in one breath, and “I came to judge” in another.
In John 9, Jesus also gives us an understanding of the judgment that occurs as a result of his coming. He says; “For judgment I cam into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”
What does this teach us about his judgment? It becomes clear as we consider the rest of John 9. In this chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus comes across a man who had been born blind. When he encountered him, his disciples asked him whether the man or his parents had sinned to cause his blindness because the belief at the time was that sin caused ailments and disabilities, such things were God’s punishment for disobedience, but Jesus challenges this idea by saying it was neither his parents nor the man who sinned, he was actually born blind for the glory of God. And in that moment, Jesus displayed what he meant as Jesus healed the man of his blindness showing the glory of God, specifically, that God could open the eyes of the blind.
Well, the healing of the man brings on an interrogation by the Pharisees, first of the man and then of Jesus, as they tried to discredit the glorious work that God had just done. So Jesus uses this opportunity for a deeper teaching about the purpose of his ministry and that is when he says “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see (highlighted beautifully in the formerly blind man), and those who see may become blind (highlighted beautifully by the Pharisees).
Which illustrates for us Jesus’ judgment, which is this: Everyone is blind, not just the man who was born physically blind, we are all born with spiritual blindness and this blindness is a result of our sinful natures, it makes us all blind to the glory of God and our need of rescue by Him. For this reason, Jesus came, to open the eyes of those who would realize they are blind, who know becuase of their sin they are separated from God and cannot see clearly. Jesus opens their eyes to see the glory of God, which is the gospel so that in our blindness God is glorified as he opens our eyes to see our need of Him and in reponse we put our faith in him. Meanwhile, there are those who are blind, but think they see. In their pride they presume they see clearly and therefore they do not need Jesus, they will not admit their blindness, they do not need to be saved and as a result the sight they believe they have will be shown to be blindness, thus they will be judged. This is the judgment of Jesus, this is why he came, to save the world through himself and as a result, judge those who do not see his glory and trust in him.
2 Corinthians 4:3–6 ESV
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

He Judges the World in Righteousness

Jesus said in:
John 7:24 ESV
Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
About halfway through the Feast of Booths in Jerusalem, Jesus went to the synagogue to teach and the people were amazed at his knowledge, marveling at his understanding of the scriptures, until Jesus explains his understanding of the scriptures is so strong because his understanding comes from God whom had sent him, that he does God’s will and that he works in God’s authority. After saying this, he then accuses the Jews of not having understanding of the law or keeping the law according to how Moses instructed them. Jesus’ reason for this indictment against them was because Jesus had healed a man on the Sabbath and the Jews were seeking to kill him because of it, saying that he broke the law by doing a work on the Sabbath.
Jesus is frustrated at their use of the law to condemn him for a good work and he proceeds to tell them, their very thought that he broke the law for healing a man on the Sabbath shows they don’t understand the spirit in which the law was given and should be followed. To make his point he uses the example of circumcision to highlight their misunderstanding:
John 7:22–24 ESV
Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
What Jesus is saying is you are accusing me of healing a man on the Sabbath and breaking the law, but you will circumcise a man on the Sabbath if necessary because boys had to be circumcised on the eighth day under the law, so if that eighth day was the Sabbath it had to be done, so if you will circumcise on the eighth day, to uphold the law, how is it wrong to do an act of mercy on the Sabbath becuase such things are also commanded and should you not show mercy to another just because it is the Sabbath?
Hosea 6:6 ESV
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
Jesus is trying to make them see, they have a fundamentally flawed understanding of the law, one that is committed to the outward appearance of holiness, not one that reflects the heart of the law, for even the law was meant to be received and lived out in faith. If the Jews had such faith, they would have discerned that Jesus is the one who fulfills the Sabbath and the covenant of circumcision and all other covenants God had made, but they were unable to judge rightly because they could not see right, they did not have right knowledge. In contrast stands Jesus who can make right judgment because unlike fallen humanity he has full and correct understanding of God’s law, the spirit in which it was given and under it the spirit in which judgment should be executed which makes him able to judge rightly.

He Judges People in His Faithfulness

We have looked at the fact that Jesus came to judge and he is the only one who has the knowledge and understanding to judge rightly, last, we will consider why he has the right to judge. And the psalmist says, He is endowed with this right because of his faithfulness. This is what is meant by the last part of verse 13, “He will judge the world in righteousness, and the people in HIS faithfulness. He will judge people in HIS faithfulness means what Paul refers to in Philippians 2:
Philippians 2:7–9 ESV
but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
Another way to say ‘Jesus judges the peoples in his faithfulness’ is, he has the right to judge people because he has proven himself faithful. Though all of humanity is rebellious and unfaithful, Christ showed his faithfulness by emptying himself, giving up his position with God to take on the form of a servant, being born as a man to live an obedient life, the perfect life that no man could live and he faithfully walked out his purpose to the point of death on a cross. Becuase of this, he has the right to judge showing the one who is faithful will judge in faithfulness.
A theophanic advent of the second coming of Christ.
Ascribe to him glory - by praising him and telling people of his salvation, declare to the nations
worshiping him in the splendor of holiness - being holy as he is holy
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