Psalm 96: The LORD Reigns!
“Missions” is a word that has different meanings for different people. For some, a missions trip is an opportunity for travel and adventure. For others, missions is the work of bringing humanitarian aid to those in poverty who have physical needs. For others, serving in missions is a way to prove the depths of their spirituality. Yet, we should notice a common theme in all of these approaches to missions: they are all centered on us—on our desires, aspirations, and pursuits. Psalm 96 is so helpful in this regard, because this psalm reorients us to the real focal point of missions: God, his kingdom, and his glory. This psalm powerfully proclaims that the gospel of God summons the world to worship.
1. Why should we “sing to the LORD” (v. 1a)? What does it mean to sing a “new song” (v. 1a)? Whom does this psalm address? In other words, who should be singing a new song to the LORD? What should we sing about? Why is the LORD worthy of our praise and our worship? Why are the idols of the earth not worthy of our worship (v. 5)? How might our attention be distracted away from God and his glory in our worship?
2. What does it mean to “ascribe” something to the LORD (v. 7–8)? Who should be ascribing glory and strength to the LORD (v. 7)? Why does this worship lead us to bring an offering (v. 8b)? What does it mean for New Testament Christians to “bring an offering” to the LORD? What does v. 9 suggest about the manner in which we should approach the Lord in our worship? What is your attitude or disposition when you come to corporate worship on the Lord’s Day?
3. What is the connection between the LORD’s reign, the establishment of the world, and the judgment of the peoples (v. 10)? What effect on us does the psalmist intend to gain by linking these ideas together in this psalm? What effect will the coming judgment of the LORD have on the rest of creation (v. 11–12)? What should our response be as we think about the coming judgment of the LORD?
4. What does this psalm tell us about the true purpose of world missions? Have you ever participated in a missions work? If so, did the work you do reflect the spirit of Psalm 96? Why or why not? Have you ever considered entering into longer term missions work? What motivation does this psalm give us toward that end? Even if you never travel to a foreign country, how might you support the universal vision of Psalm 96?