The Present Reign & Future Triumph Of Christ

a brief study of Psalm 96, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 15 Jan 2010

Psalm 96 is an ancient new song. It is one of six psalms in the Psalter that calls us to sing a new song and then proceeds to give us the words for us to sing! So a new song is not necessarily ‘new’ as in ‘a new composition’ or ‘unknown previously’; otherwise it would have become quite meaningless to sing this psalm very soon after it was composed.

What then does ‘new song’ mean—both here and in the book of Revelation? Someone suggests that ‘a new song’ is a song about the Messiah. Well, this is probably correct, as most, if not all the psalms are about the Messiah in one way or another. It is also possible that ‘a new song’ is a song that points to the New Covenant. Now, this may also be correct for most of the psalms look forward to the New Covenant in one way or another. But perhaps the best way for us to approach a ‘new song’ is to think of it as a Spirit-inspired song that is designed to stir new or fresh feelings of love and joy towards the Lord in renewed hearts.

Psalm 96 is one such song! It was first composed by David on the occasion when the ark of the covenant was brought to Jerusalem. Remember how the ark was captured by the Philistines during the days of Eli. It was eventually returned, and when David came on the throne, he tried to bring it into Jerusalem upon an ox cart. That attempt was unsuccessful for the Lord was greatly displeased that his own rules for the transport of the ark were ignored by David and the priests. The ark was then left in the house of an Obed-Edom for three months, during which time, the Lord blessed the family richly.

Eventually, David decided to try again to bring the ark into Jerusalem. This time, they did everything right. The ark was carried upon the shoulders of the priests. David in his joy wrote a long psalm. This is recorded for us in 1 Chronicles 16:7-36. But that psalm was not appointed by the Holy Spirit for public worship in the form that it was in. Instead, the Spirit directed that the Psalm should be broken up into three and further edited for public singing. The result is that verses 7-22 were incorporated into Psalm 105; verses 22-33 into Psalm 96 and verses 35-36 into Psalm 106:47-48.

Psalm 96 is, therefore, an ascension psalm. An ascension psalm is a psalm that celebrates the ascension of the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem. In such psalms, the ark is seen as a picture of the Messiah, victorious over his enemies, ascending to heaven to rule over the nations as a triumphant King of kings (cf. Eph 4:8-10; Ps 68:18). But the ascension of Christ is also tied closely to the Second Coming of Christ, for as Peter reminds us, “The heavens must receive [Christ] until the times of the restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21)  …If Christ ascended victorious, he will come again triumphant to vindicate his church and to put away sin and sinners forever.

So Psalm 96 may be entitled: “The Present Reign & Future Triumph of Christ.” It has essentially 4 parts:

·   First, we are called to sing His praise & declare His glory (v. 1-3).

·   Secondly, we are reminded why we should praise the Lord (v. 4-6).

·   Thirdly, we are called once again to ascribe glory to the Lord (v. 7-9).

·   Fourthly, We are called to testify of the present reign of the Lord and of His soon coming (v. 10-13)

1. A Call To Sing the Lord’s Praise

1 O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth. 2 Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day. 3 Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people.

We have already touched on verse 1. Verse 1 is the only verse to have been added when this psalm was extracted from 1 Chronicles 16 and added to the Psalter.

We must sing to the Lord’s praise. We must sing not in a cold and mechanical manner, but with joy and love unto the Lord. Let us remind ourselves, therefore, when we sing this new song, to rejoice in the Lord and to sing enthusiastically.

If we are to call all the earth to sing with us (v. 1), we must sing heartily, not half-heartedly, or no one will join us. We must sing day by day, everyday (v. 2), not occasionally.  We must sing unto the Lord to bless His name and to praise Him. We must also sing loudly for all people to hear by showing forth God’s gracious salvation and declaring his glory and wonder in the hearing of all the world.

How to do so? In public worship; in family worship; and public places such as in the hospital and airports! Do not close your windows when you have family worship. Do not sing softly. Sing aloud that your neighbours can hear. When you visit at the hospital or send someone off at the airport, and there is a group of you, make it a point to sing the psalms! This is what the opening verses of this psalm remind us to do.

But why? Why should we praise the Lord?

2. Reasons to Praise the Lord

4 For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens. 6 Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Why should we praise the Lord? Simply stated, we should praise him because He is not only great, and worthy of praise, but he is the alone living and true God.

All the other so-called ‘gods’ are the imagination of men or are made with man’s hand. The Lord, on the other hand, made heaven and earth.

Therefore, let the church, the living temple of the LORD proclaim His honour and majesty, and strength and beauty whenever they gather before Him in the sanctuary or the place of worship.

So beloved brethren, youths and children, O ye kindreds of the people, let us stir up ourselves to glorify the Lord…

3. A Call to Glorify the Lord

 7 Give unto the LORD, …give unto the LORD glory and strength. 8 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts.  9 O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.

These are beautiful words which we have heard many times as our call to worship. To ‘give unto the LORD’ is to ‘ascribe unto the Lord.’ We cannot really give anything to the Lord that he does not have. We can only acknowledge or declare what he has and praise Him for what he has.

How do we ascribe glory to the Lord? By acknowledging God’s glory and power; by bringing an offering into his courts. What kind of offering should we bring? During Old Testament times, the saints would bring animal sacrifices.

What offerings should we bring today? Well, the New Testament speaks of alms and offering (cf. Acts 24:17)! So there is a place for showing gratitude to the Lord by bringing a monetary offering when we come for worship—though whether the money is to be collected during the worship service is debatable.

But there is no doubt that every time we gather for worship, we must offer “the calves of our lips” (Hosea 14:2); and the emphasis in this psalm appears to be on such offerings and spiritual sacrifices.

We must worship the Lord in the beauty of his holiness. We must worship Him in fear, not in frivolity and jollity. God is holy in that he is transcendent and separate from sinners. God, as such, must be worshipped in the way that he has appointed, and not according to the imaginations of man.

Indeed, God has even indicated what we are to proclaim about him to the world. What are we to proclaim?

4. A Call to Proclaim the Reign of the Lord

What are we to proclaim to the world? Shall we proclaim the love of the Lord to the world? Shall we proclaim the health and wealth of following the Lord to the world?

Our text teaches us otherwise.

10 Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.

We must proclaim the Lord’s reign and His justice. We must speak about how the Lord is our Creator and therefore we owe it to him to glorify Him. We must speak about how the Lord is our King and every knee should bow down to him. We must speak about how all who refuse submission to him will one day face his righteous judgement.

We must call upon all creation, living and inanimate, to rejoice in their Creator and to look forward to the day of restoration and judgement:

11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.  12 Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice 13 Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.

The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 8 that the whole creation is groaning and travailing in pain together, as they wait for the redemption of the bodies of the sons of God (Rom 8:22-23).

That day of redemption will come when Christ our Lord returns to judge the world with righteousness and the people according to his truth.

As God’s people redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, we ought to be looking forward to the coming of Christ wherein everything will be renewed and the church vindicated. That is our hope and yearning in the midst of a confusing world with much pain and suffering and frustration.

What a glorious day it will be when Christ our king returns to take us into the wedding supper of the Lamb. Oh how our tears will be wiped away when we know that our labours are done and we hear our master say: “Well-done thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of the Lord.”

Let us, beloved brethren and children, run on in our Christian race in the strength of this hope.

But let us not forget that we are also called to shine forth for the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what we are reminded to do in this psalm.

We must declare to the world the glory and majesty of our God.

We must not be ashamed to acknowledge that he is King over all things.

We must live and worship in such a way as to give those who observe us occasions to ask us for the reason of the hope that is in us.

We must warn by our conduct and our words that Christ our Lord is coming again to restore all things and to judge the world according to truth and righteousness.

Let us warn all men, everywhere, to repent to that end.


The Lord came, suffered and died for us; then rose victorious from the dead and ascended as the God-Man to the right hand of the throne of God. There, He is reigning over all as the King of kings and Lord of lords. From there He will come again triumphant. The world does not acknowledge His reign and scoffers scorn at the thought that Christ is coming again.

What about you, beloved brethren and children? Do you acknowledge the Lord’s kingship over you? How does that affect your life and worship? Do you look forward to the coming of Christ? Are you prepared for his coming? Remember that the five foolish virgins looked forward to the coming of the bridegroom, but they were not prepared. What about you? Are you prepared? Or are you living as if he will never return or you will never go to him?

Beloved brethren and children, live for Christ! Testify for Christ in words and in deeds. May the Lord help us. Amen.