Psalms 98


This week marked a change in my life schedule which is good. However, the time I have available to write is less as well as less structured. As a result, I have not produced an entry in my posts for about a week. Because of this change, I may not be able to write as frequently or as extensively as before. However, I do not want to give up this project so instead, I plan to change the focus a little. Rather than writing about both readings each day, I will likely more often, concentrate on one of the two readings and it may not be every day. Even though this change initially troubles me since it is a shift from my original goal, I shall adapt. I will remind myself that the purpose of this online journal was never to inform or attract other readers, though all are welcome, it is to give me an avenue to deepen my quiet time with the God of the Bible.

Psalm 98

In the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 98 is known as the Cantate Domino (“Sing to the Lord”) and is placed between the evening Old Testament reading and it New Testament counterpart. It overflows with exhilarating worship and joy. 1

The last word of the above quote from D. A. Carson was the primary focus of my reading this morning. This summer, for the most part, has been one often void of real joy. Spending so much time without work created an ever increasing discontent with life and with my goals. The bright spot was an increasing awareness of God’s “ever presence” and a sensitivity to my sin.

I also became increasingly aware of a clearer definition of “joy”. It doesn’t come from things. It doesn’t even come from people, really. It ultimately only comes from pleasure in God. God is constant and when my joy is in Him, my joy will remain constant also. Things will fade, people will disappoint, but God remains constant forever.

In this Psalm, the author writes many imperatives. Two of them, I highlighted, Psalm 98:4 and Psalm 98:6. Three times he uses the word joyful or joyous. He also commands that my joy be expressed verbally (noise, song). I might point out also that the Lord is the receiver of my expression. Because of my cynical sin nature, I am often suspicious of outward expressions of worship during singing in church or similar venues. My suspicions are wrong but they limit my ability to express my joy and praise in a likewise fashion. However, I do feel a pull to worship the Lord and express my joy in Him.

Psalm 98 is a great expression of the grateful heart. Recently, I have seen the might hand of God do some really awesome things in my life and my responses are gratefulness and joy. The joy part seems weak, though, because the circumstances are difficult. Today’s psalm teaches me to focus on God not circumstances. The result will be unrestrained joy!

1 D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word., vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998.

Ezekiel 34 and Psalms 83-84


Ezekiel 34 tells the story of the self-concerned shepherd who feeds himself but not his sheep. In the Old Testament, the term shepherd often referred to the king. Carson gives this explanation,

“Shepherd” was a common metaphor for “king” in the ancient Near East, not least in the Old Testament (cf. Isa. 44:28; Jer. 10:21; 23:1-6; Mic. 5:4, 5; Zech. 11:4-17). The shepherd provided not only care and nurture for the sheep, but leadership, medical attention, and defense against foes. Doubtless it was an excellent metaphor to apply to hereditary monarchs who might be tempted to think of their calling in terms of power and privilege but not in terms of responsibility.1

God, however, turns the story around by listing a number of times the phrase, “I will…” or “I myself will…” (Ezek. 34:10-16 and Ezek. 34:17-22). He will both protect the sheep and purify the flock by judging those who are evil or corrupt. In Ezekiel 34:23-31 He promises a shepherd who will be both God and a man from the line of King David — Jesus (John 10).

God is amazing; He identifies the problem, He executes judgment, and He provides relief for the oppressed. In the midst of deficit, it can be easy to succumb to despair — much like the poor sheep of this metaphor — but God will alway step in at just the right time to restore the downtrodden.


There is quite a difference between Psalm 83 and Psalm 84. Psalm 83 is likely the last psalm of Asaph and it once again asks God to bring judgment against Israel’s wicked neighbors. I don’t think that is it easy for me to understand just how heavy the oppression against Israel by it surrounding countries was. However, I can liken it to the oppression that Satan brings against my mind and soul with his accusations and fiery darts. Spiritual warfare is very real and living right in the middle of the devil’s kingdom is a dangerous and oppressive place to be. I can relate in that sense to the cry of this psalmist to God to destroy my enemy and restore me to a safe refuge when I am feeling the oppression of the devil against me.

Psalm 84 is a beautiful oasis in this portion of Scripture. The psalmist speaks about true worship and coming to the place of the presence of God. The closest thing we experience to this today would be corporate worship. I know many Christians who claim to love God but disdain church, usually because of bad experiences. Those are the human factors but they do not negate the critical command we have in Hebrews 10:25 to come together to worship Christ and be fed from the Bible.

I read a very good commentary on Psalm 84 this morning from the book, Opening Up Psalms,

In the first place, we must note his intense longing for worship (Ps. 84:1-4). How great was this longing? The psalmist says it consumed his entire being. He says his soul ‘faints’ with this longing (Ps. 84:2). It was almost too much for him to bear.

We will never feel like worshipping God until we understand something of his greatness, and we cannot help but worship once we do. In other words, there is a direct correlation between our conception of God and our desire for worship. The greater God is in our eyes, the greater will be our desire to worship him.2

1 D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word., vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998).

2 Roger Ellsworth, Opening up Psalms, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2006), 58-59.