Psalm 98 (ESV)
Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord
98 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.
“Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth” (Psalm 98:4)
Rivers “clapping their hands.” Mountains “shouting for joy.” What extraordinary images these poetic descriptions of nature evoke for us! These have got to be some of the most beautiful verses in the entire Psalms!
The Bible resounds with the worship of God. From its pages echo the voices of countless men and women, as well as angels, who offer cries and prayers of homage to the Lord. And as today’s psalm shows us, even nature adds its voice to the chorus.
Many Church Fathers have seen this psalm as a joyous celebration of the coming of Christ in his incarnation. When the Son of God entered into his world, the whole of creation sang and rejoiced. The Fathers also saw this psalm as pointing to Jesus’ final coming.
According to Scripture scholar Jean-Pierre Prevost, Psalm 98 is “an ‘unfinished symphony’ meant to encourage among the faithful the joyful awaiting of God’s coming.” But we are not just to wait passively for his coming, Prevost says. We should “join the chorus and the orchestra in such an uplifting symphony in honor of our God.”
All creation – every human being as well as all of nature – has a part to play in this great unfinished symphony. Each one of us has countless reasons to join the rivers and mountains in their song of praise. So go ahead and sing to the Lord! Tell him how much you love him. Let him know how eager you are to see him face-to-face. Tell him how deeply you long for him to come with saving justice and deliver you from all temptation. And while you’re at it, invite the created world to join you as you “sing a new song to the Lord” (Psalm 98:1)!
Lord, open my eyes to see the wonders of your creation and your incarnation. I want to join my voice with nature’s great symphony of praise to you. Amen.