In Psalm 110, the Lord God speaks to David’s Lord, instructing Him to take His seat in the place of authority at God’s right hand. This king’s rule is empowered by God. His enemies cannot overthrow Him. His own people willingly serve Him. On top of this, God swears to make Him a priest forever like the priest-king Melchizedek, who received honor from Abraham, the first Hebrew “king”. David then praises God for what He empowers the king to do: this kingly priest will execute God’s judgment all over the earth, and put an end to the world’s rebellion. As we celebrate Ascension Sunday, we proclaim that Jesus Christ is the one who sits enthroned at God’s right hand, and we rejoice that by the sword of His Spirit, He is causing knees to bow all over the earth in worship.
In Psalm 150, the Psalmist’s calls for instrumental praise are filled with echoes of the creation account in Genesis. God is to be praised in the expanse, and everything that has breath is called to praise God. After speaking something into being out of nothing, God refined His creation by separating, dividing, and fashioning, ultimately turning dust into man. Mankind imitates God by crafting instruments for praise from the things that God made, and we use these inventions to praise our Supreme Creator. As you come together to worship God, join your breath to the sounds of creation refracted through horns and strings. Praise the Lord!
Psalm 118 celebrates the steadfast love of the Lord, and when it is read on Easter Sunday, we are called to hear the middle section with the resurrection in our hearts. The right hand of the Lord does valiantly by bringing the Lord Jesus through death, so that death is not the final word. Instead of forever taking our praises to the grave in death, Christ’s death becomes for us the gates of righteousness, which those who have been made righteous in Christ enter through to give thanks to the Lord. The Lord has become our salvation, and His work is marvelous in our eyes. The day of resurrection becomes the day that the Lord has made for us to rejoice in and be glad, for we shall not die, but in Christ, we shall live.
Psalm 91 celebrates the protection that God provides to His people. When you live in God’s house, you are under His care, and so His house becomes a refuge and a fortress, a place of safety and peace. Because you love God, and know His name, He promises to deliver you and to answer you when you call. God takes it upon Himself to make sure that no evil befalls you, since you trust in Him. As you come to worship today, you are placing yourself under God’s protection. When you look for His help, He promises to show you His salvation. You have taken refuge in the fortress of the Most High God, so come and worship without fear in the shadow of the Almighty!
The refrain of Psalm 99 focuses on the holiness of God, His awesome greatness that loves justice and righteousness. Our response to the majesty that we encounter at the holy mountain should be one of trembling, exalting, and worshiping this mighty King. But alongside this transcendent sense of awe is the truth that He is our God, the God of our fathers Moses, Aaron, and Samuel. God answered them, forgave them, and defended them, and in His glorious might, He will do the same for us. So as you come to worship today, stand amazed at the holy glory of God, and rejoice that He is the Lord your God.
Isaiah’s confidence in God’s salvation overflows in praise, as God is both his strength and his song. The prophet is eager that God’s fame be broadcast among the peoples with a lot of shouting and singing. What motivates this worship is that Israel’s holy God is great in their midst. This is the heart of Advent: God in our midst. This is why we’ve come to worship today. And in Isaiah’s beautiful phrase, as we joyfully remind each other of these truths, we are drawing water from the wells of salvation. So let all the thirsty come and drink in this good news!
When Zechariah’s tongue is loosed, he sings a glorious song of praise celebrating the visitation of God. God was faithful to His promises to Abraham and David and so brought salvation to Israel. This salvation takes the form of deliverance from enemies and forgiveness of sins. Once delivered and forgiven, Israel is now free to serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness. In the beautiful concluding poetic image, the dawn breaks over Israel, and those who were sitting in darkness and shadows are now able to step into the light and follow the path to peace.