Preacher: “O sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.” (Psalm 96)
Seeker 1: “The LORD is king! Let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!” (Psalm 97)
Seeker 2: “O sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things. His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory.” (Psalm 98)
Preacher: “Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.” (Psalm 96)
Seeker 2: I thought salvation came with Jesus; why is the psalmist touting salvation in this setting?
Preacher: The need for salvation was present from the first time humanity made a misstep, according to the Divine. Adam and Eve ignored the admonition of the Divine. Abraham (along with Sarah) doubted. Isaac fared a little better, but Jacob tried to undercut his brother. The list goes on. Just because lasting salvation did not come for many many generations in Jewish history, does not mean the need was not there.
Seeker 1: “Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him, and consumes his adversaries on every side.(Psalm 97)
Seeker 2: How did they hope to achieve salvation? At the time the psalmist was writing, they had been sacrificing for years, and it had not quenched the need to once again reassure themselves they were right with the Lord?
Preacher: And that is different from now how?
Seeker 2: Good point.
Seeker 1: “His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness; and all the peoples behold his glory.” (Psalm 97)
Seekeer 2: I guess it must have been hard, to carry around such a weight. Trying to please Yahweh from a position of uncertainty and fear. I have to wonder if sometimes the psalm passages were written to appease what they assumed was an “Angry God”.
Seeker 1: “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 revered above all gods. (Psalm 96)
Preacher: “For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Honor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.” (Psalm 96)
Seeker 1: But the Divine did not want that type of fear, not really. The Israelites and Judahites might have thought he did; and the history of the Jewish people from the time of King Solomon down to Joseph who lived as a “common man” show that the favor of the Lord did not sustain them.
Preacher: “All worshipers of images are put to shame, those who make their boast in worthless idols; all gods bow down before him.” (Psalm 97)
Seeker 2: Now I am saddened. So many years gone by, so many people of the Lord God who never received the assurance that we have.
Preacher: That is why the psalm passages were so important. It was not just “begging for crumbs” of assurance; when they felt even a small glimmer of favor, even if the rest of the nations was going to heck in a handbasket, that little bit was major.
Seeker 1: “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 holy splendor; tremble before him, all the earth.” (Psalm 96)
Seeker 2: “Zion hears and is glad, and the towns of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O God.
For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.” (Psalm 97)
Preacher: “Say among the nations, “The LORD is king! The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity.” (Psalm 96)
Seeker1: Those who saw Jesus as the Messiah, and thought back to the psalms must have felt such joy, knowing that their praises of the Divine were actually to a Messiah who truly cared and was concerned for them.
Seeker 2: “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 is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth.” (Psalm 96)
Preacher: The optimism of the psalmist was borne out after so many generations. While the believers of Jesus time may have rejoiced in that revelation, we can use the psalms to rejoice that it has come down to us – intact – the Divine is the Lord of Love.
Seeker 2: “The LORD loves those who hate evil; he guards the lives of his faithful; he rescues them from the hand of the wicked. Light dawns for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!” (Psalm 97)
Seeker 1: That must be why the crafters of the RCL have so many psalms in rotation. And during Christmas they are used in grand profusion.
Seeker 2: It is good to have words that praise the Lord. I can appreciate the praise in the psalms, and know that my voice is lifted over time with the voices from long ago.
Preacher: “The LORD has made known his victory; he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God. (Psalm 98)
Seeker 1: “Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises. Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody.” (Psalm 98)
Seeker 2: “With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD. Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who live in it.” (Psalm 98)
Preacher: “Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy98:9 at the presence of the LORD, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.” (Psalm 98)
All: Shalom & Selah!