Today we will consider four more Psalms. No one knows who wrote them or when. They all have a common theme: God is the God of the whole earth. We begin in Psalm 97 with a call for the whole earth to rejoice that God reigns (97:1). In verse 2, we get a description of God’s presence, as on Mount Sinai (see Ex 189:9), along with the foundation of His reign on earth, which is His righteousness and justice. As we have seen, righteousness and justice are also the foundation of God’s call on His people (see 1 Kings 10:9, Prov 21:3, Isa 56:1, Amos 5:24).
Verses 3-5 speak of the righteous and just judgment of God against wickedness. Verse 6 tells us that the creation itself proclaim God’s glory and righteousness (see Ps 19:1). Therefore, idolaters will be put to shame, and even the false gods should worship God (v. 7). This idea of God revealing Himself through creation and the just judgment of those who worship false gods is picked up by Paul in Romans 1:18-23. That God is exalted above even the other gods is reason for God’s people (Zion and Judah – the place of God’s dwelling) to rejoice (vv. 8-9).
And what is our response to this glorious, righteous, just, exalted God? We are to hate evil (which means loving righteousness and justice) and know that God will preserve (save to the end!) us if we do (v. 10). God will honor those who follow Him in righteousness (v. 11). Therefore, we should rejoice and thank Him (v. 12).
Psalm 98 begins with a call for us to sing a “new song” to God for the marvelous things He has done (98:1). Whenever we read of the “new song” in the Bible (Ps 33:3, 40:3, 96:1, 144:9, 149:1, Isa 42:10, Rev 5:9, 14:3) the context is always God as both Savior and Judge of the whole world. Marvelous indeed! The right hand and holy arm that have worked salvation is salvation in Christ (see Isa 52:10). And this salvation is revealed to all nations (v. 2 – see again, Isa 52:10). In verse 3, God’s hesed love for Israel is paralleled with salvation to the ends of the earth.
Therefore, the Psalmist calls for the whole earth to praise God in song (vv. 4-6). He then calls for the creation itself (including man) to sing praises unto God (vv. 7-8). Why? Because He is not just Savior of the whole world, He is Judge of the whole world (v. 9). And we sing songs of praise to Him because He will judge righteously.
Psalm 99 begins with the declaration that YHWH reigns (99:1). And this reign makes the “peoples” and the “earth” fear the Him. And He reigns from Zion, the place of His dwelling (at the time of the writing of this Psalm, this is probably Jerusalem, but it is ultimately His people themselves) over all the peoples (v. 2) who are called to praise Him (v. 3). God reigns with justice and righteousness (v. 4 – see 97:2). The footstool where man worships is here the Temple (v. 5 – see 1 Chr 28:2), and ultimately the whole earth out of which God calls His true people (see Isa 66:1-2). In verses 6-8 we see both the grace and the justice of God for His priests (ultimately, all of His people – see 1 Pet 2:5, 9). The Psalm closes with a call to worship God at His holy mountain (v. 9). This is another way to describe the dwelling place of God (like Zion or the Temple).
Psalm 100 continues the theme of God being the God of all the earth by beginning with a call to the whole earth to sing praises to God (100:1 – see 98:4). The whole earth is then called to serve God and to come into His presence (v. 2). The whole earth is to know that YHWH is God, the Creator (v. 3). Notice also that this call to all the earth includes the fact that “we” are His people (see Hos 2:23, Rom 9:25-26, 1 Pet 2:10) and the sheep of His pasture (see John 10:11-16).
The whole earth is then invited to enter God’s gates (into Jerusalem, which is ultimately the church) and enter His courts (into the Temple, which is ultimately the church) to give Him thanks for making us His people and being our Shepherd (v. 4). Why did He do this? Because He is good (v. 5). His hesed (saving love!) endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations. His salvation extends not just to all of the earth (all four Psalms we have just considered), but through all of time!