Meditations on the Psalms #195

Psalm 98 Part 1

There are striking parallels between the first part of this psalm and Mary’s prayer (Luke 1:46-55), which may mean that the mother of Jesus had this psalm in mind as she composed her hymn, and that she rightly saw that the promises of the psalm were to be fulfilled in the spiritual victories to be achieved by Jesus Christ. Isaac Watts’s famous Christmas hymn ‘Joy to The World’ is also based on this psalm.

CS Lewis’ described Narnia, when under control of the wicked witch of the north (i.e. satan), as being in a state of perpetual winter. Spring never came. But when Aslan rose from the dead the ice began to melt, flowers bloomed, and the trees turned green. It is poetical writing, but it describes something that will happen. The rivers will indeed clap their hands. The mountains will indeed sing. And we will all join in. Maybe Lewis also had this psalm in mind when he wrote about Aslan.

Psalm 98 calls for a new song! Since that call for something new is often sounded in the psalms, the point appears to be an important one. We could imagine that a good number of OT people must have wanted to hang onto the ‘good old songs.’ But there was also a group who must have said, “We need to hear something fresh, new, and contemporary so that we can hold on to the young people.”

Psalm 98 is one of seven psalms in the Bible that were used at festivals to celebrate God as King: 47; 93; 95; 96; 97; 98; 99. Many of these psalms contain the cry, “The Lord is king.” These enthronement psalms, as they are called, are not to be confused with royal psalms, which are associated with events in the king’s life.

The psalm divides into three parts: Praise to the Lord because of mighty deeds in the past (verses 1-3), praise to the Lord the ruling King in the present (verses 4-6), and a call to nature also to praise the Lord who will come in the future to set things right in the world (verses 7-9).

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