If the strong affirmation that God alone reigns interrupts the initial familiarity of Psalm 96, the disruption continues with a further affirmation of God’s role as coming judge: “Let all crea-
tion rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness” (niv).
When praying or singing this psalm, the people of God were reminded that there is only one Lord and that despite any appearance to the contrary, God reigns. In many contexts, talk about God as Lord, as one who reigns, or as coming judge, has become infrequent because it can seem offensive or too confrontational. Some people have raised concern about using these themes in a way that distorts the biblical witness to who God is.
We affirm that God reigns and comes to judge. The duties of one who reigns involve the establishment of justice and righteousness. God as righteous judge may sound like bad news or a threat to modern ears. But notice the way the psalmist frames the coming of God: “Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth.” It is good news, even cause for rejoicing! The establishment of justice brings equity rather than partiality, faithfulness rather than neglect.
The psalmist reminds us that these important parts of the biblical witness testify to who God is and how God is at work in the world. Psalm 96 reminds Christians again and again that God alone is Lord. Our God brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and this is very good news indeed!
God, enable me to grasp more completely who you are, and as I do, bless my offering of songs of praise, worship, and adoration. May the recognition of who you are and what you have done bring me a deep and abiding joy. And may it increase my faith, enabling me to proclaim that you alone are God. Amen.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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