The Righteous One’s Sabbath Song

a brief study of Psalm 92, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 23 Oct 2009

Psalm 92, is as the title suggests, “a psalm or song for the sabbath day.” The terms, ‘psalm’, ‘song’ or ‘hymn’ are used almost synonymously in the Scriptures. The sabbath day is essentially the day of rest on which the church keeps the 4th Commandment.

The 4th Commandment teaches us that we are given six days in a week for our labours and recreations. They belong for us to order in a way that is good for us and glorifying to God. But one day in seven must be sanctified unto the LORD. It is the LORD’s Day. It is a day for holy resting and worship. On other days, whatever activity is not forbidden in the Word of God is allowed. On the sabbath day, whatever is not appointed or permitted in the Word is forbidden.

In Old Testament days, the Sabbath was the last day of the week or what we may know as Saturday because God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. So he commanded Adam and Eve to sanctify the seventh day to commemorate God’s work of creation. But the Old Testament also anticipated that the day would be changed to reflect God’s work of redemption in Christ.

For example in Deuteronomy 5, redemption from Egypt is stated as the reason for keeping the Sabbath. Redemption from Egypt was a type of our redemption in Christ.

Likewise in Psalm 118, we are taught that the day that the stone rejected of man is made head-cornerstone will be the day that we will rejoice and be glad (Ps 118:24). That day is the day of the Resurrection of Christ. For this reason, when Christ had risen from the death on the first day of the week, the Sabbath was moved to the first day of the week.

Now, I mention all these things not because this psalm should only be sung on a particular day, but really to give us the background to the content of this psalm. You see, this psalm is really a hymn of thanksgiving and praise unto the Lord for his work of creation and redemption. These are the two works of God which we must commemorate and look forward to every Sabbath. Now, I say look forward and not just commemorate because the work of Redemption is, in a sense, still on going, which is the reason, the writer of Hebrews remind us that “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Heb 4:9). The weekly sabbath serves as an emblem and type of the eternal sabbath which every believer looks forward to.

We may entitle this “the Righteous One’s Sabbath-Song.”

Now, it has primarily two parts. The first part of this psalm is roughly about Creation and Providence, whereas the second part is about Redemption and Deliverance.


1. Remember the Lord our
Creator & Provider

1  It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: 2 To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night,  3 Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound.

It is good to praise and thank the LORD. It is good in that it is our reasonable response of gratitude and love towards the LORD for His lovingkindness and faithfulness towards us. It is good also in that it is delightful to the regenerated soul to praise and thank the LORD. We are made to glorify and enjoy God. One of the ways in which we glorify and enjoy God is praising Him and thanking Him for all that He has done for us.

And so this is something that we do not want to do only on the Lord’s Day. Yes, we look forward to the weekly Sabbath and even to the eternal Sabbath when we shall be able to praise and thank God in the congregation of the saints.

But no, we do not want to wait until then. Rather, we would praise and thank him every morning and every night. We should do so privately. We should do so also in family worship.

In Old Testament days, the morning and evening worship were conducted with sacrifices and accompanying musical instruments (v. 3). Today, we should no longer use the instruments. Rather we must strum our heart-strings. We must sing and make melody in our hearts unto the Lord as we praise and thank the Lord.

Why? Why do we want to praise and thank the LORD?

4 For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands. 5 O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep. 6 A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this.

We should praise the Lord because He has made all things and ordered all things to come to pass according to his wisdom and power. Indeed, we should especially praise the Lord because by His Spirit, he has opened our eyes so that when we see the works of his Creation and providence, we cannot but say: Praise the Lord! He wisdom is infinite, His work is marvellous! The brutish man, the natural man may not see it (v. 6). But we whose hearts have been changed, we in whom the Spirit of Christ dwells can see, and it thrills our heart!

Beloved brethren and children, do you not understand the thrill in the heart that the psalmist is talking about? Perhaps you have not observed God’s creation enough. You need to go out to the open more. Don’t go shopping and theme parks. Go where there is still unspoilt nature. Look at the mountains. Look at the streams. Look at the moss and lichen. Observe the variety of plants. Listen to the birds. Check out the little animal scurrying away. Study the insects and consider their habits. If that does not thrill your heart concerning the wisdom and power of God, there is little that can touch your heart!

But not only are we to remember our Lord as our Creator and Provider. We must remember Him also as our Redeemer and Deliverer.

2. Remember the LORD our
Redeemer & Deliverer

The first part of this psalm ends with a note that the brutish or natural man is not being able to appreciate God’s work. Now, the second part of this psalm begins with a declaration that the ignorance is inexcusable.

7 When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever: 8 But thou, LORD, art most high for evermore. 9 For, lo, thine enemies, O LORD, for, lo, thine enemies shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.

God is highly exalted, the living and true God. Man is created in the image of God. Therefore if a man refuses to acknowledge God or refuses to obey God’s commandment, that man is wicked and a worker of iniquity.

There will always be a multitude of such in the world. In fact, the Lord Jesus warns that even in the visible church there will be many who are workers of iniquity who will call him Lord, Lord, but would not obey God’s laws.

The righteous was and is a minority in the world.  The wicked on the other hand will often spring up and flourish like grass. But God’s people need not be overwhelmed or dismayed.

We must understand that it is all part of God’s wisdom and plan. The wicked shall be destroyed (v. 7). But their presence will serve to underscore the greatness of the Lord (v. 8) as well as His wrath against sin (v. 9).

This background is important if we are to truly appreciate our redemption, for we are by nature no different from the wicked and lawless. And yet, the Lord redeemed us with His precious blood.

But this background is also essential for us to appreciate the special place that we have in God’s eyes.

10 But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil. 11 Mine eye also shall see my desire on mine enemies, and mine ears shall hear my desire of the wicked that rise up against me.

These are words, I believe, that few of us would be comfortable to own as our own. But they are words appointed by the Lord for us to use in congregational worship both to praise the Lord and to teach and admonish one another.

But how can we sing these words without harbouring the attitude of the Pharisee who said in his prayer: “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican” (Lk 18:11).

I believe we can because we are singing these words really as those united to Christ, whose words these are. Christ alone may take these words in his lips without any tinge of self-righteousness for he alone is perfectly righteous.

And we can easily see how our Lord would have used these words to encourage himself as he was shamefully entreated and driven to the cross by his enemies.

The horn (v. 10) refers to strength, power and honour. Our Lord was being abased, but He would be lifted up. He would, as it were, be anointed with fresh oil or what fresh oil represents, even the Holy Spirit.

And our Lord who committed all things into the hand of His father would no doubt see vengeance against His enemies who remained unrepentant (v. 11).

And because he rose victorious, those of us who are united to Him may sing the same thing both in reflection of what our Lord experienced, and what we will experience when we enter into the eternal sabbath.

But we don’t have to wait for the eternal sabbath to enjoy the blessings of Christ’s work of redemption. We may enjoy it already today, as we read and sing in verse 12 onwards—

12 The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13 Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;  15 To shew that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Apart from Christ there is none righteous by nature, no not one. But in Christ, sinners are accounted as righteous. Those who trust in Him have his righteousness imputed to them. And they have his Spirit send to indwell them. Therefore they will flourish like the palm tree and grow strong like the Cedar (v. 12). They shall flourish like the palm tree when their circumstance in life is dry and arid like a desert; and they shall grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon when the conditions are right.

When they are rooted upon God’s word and experience the blessings of the Lord by the power of His Spirit, they shall like the trees planted in the house of the Lord (v. 14). They shall flourish and bear much fruit even unto old age (v. 14).

Why will it be so? It will be so because the Lord is upright and there is no unrighteousness in Him. Whoever he redeems by the blood of His Son, He will bless that His name may be magnified.

This is good reason for us to praise and thank the Lord!


This is Psalm 92, a psalm for the Sabbath. But as you can see, it is not a psalm that celebrates the Sabbath like the famous uninspired song—“Sweet Hour of Prayer” By William Bradbury. Psalm 92, on the other hand is really about the LORD our Creator and Redeemer. It is about what the LORD has done for us and is doing for us. It ends with those familiar words of assurance and comfort for those who are justified in Christ that we sing so often. But let us remember that this psalm is really about our God. Let us remember that the blessing we shall receive is not because we are worthy or righteous but because of what the Lord has done for us in making us and redeeming us by the blood of His Son. Amen. Ω